Because old stuff is cooler than new stuff sometimes.

What is it?

A little notebook that slides into my back pocket. Field Notes are popular (affiliate link), and my current brand. But any small notebook that fits into your pocket will do. Also, a pen.

How I use it

While out and about, or even sitting around the house – something comes to mind that I want to remember, so I whip out my notebook and pen, jot it down, and return it safely to my pocket afterwards. Once that thing/idea is addressed, I cross it off in the notebook.

Why I like it

  • It’s quick. Typing out the “How I use it” section above took a lot longer than writing down something in my notebook.
  • It keeps me accountable for stuff. There’s no excuse for “I forgot”, which is actually pretty great. I don’t worry about missing out on something now because I have it written down.
  • Great ideas don’t go unnoticed. Ever have a great idea? Something you thought would be really cool to do? Or you thought, “I should look that up…”? Now you take the burden off your brain and can actually take action on that great idea later.
  • I’m more attentive. Emptying out my brain is a great way to keep me focused on the “now”, whether that’s at work, a quick round of meditation, or in conversation with somebody. Hey, you don’t like being rude, do you? The best way to not be rude is listen when someone’s talking. Most of us are too busy trying to think of stuff. A pocket notebook uncorks that attention span and gets you back on track.
  • I become a more thoughtful gift-giver. It turned me into an awesome, thoughtful husband. When out and about, my wife will comment on how much she loves [insert something on a store shelf here]. So now I can hang back for a second and write these things down to go into my “Gift Ideas” Evernote note for her. When holidays/birthdays/anniversaries come up, I’ve already got a great list and I don’t even have to ask her. [Note: I’m not blowing my cover here. She knows I do this. I confessed to it a year ago.]

Why you don’t use it

  • There’s an app for that. Yeah, this is the main one, and it’s a fairly effective one. With Evernote, or now Google Keep, there are other ways to take notes. Plus, your notes are backed up in the cloud, which is nice. And it’s one less thing to carry around.

Why you should think about it

  • It’s less rude. This doesn’t really make sense, but think about it: you’re in conversation with someone, and they pull out a little notebook to jot something down. Not bad. Now you’re talking to someone, and they pull out

    their phone and stare at it for a minute. See the difference? Regardless of intent, when you are staring at your phone while you talk to somebody, you are telling them they are not worthy of your full attention.

  • It’s quicker. This was one of the main reasons why I switched from making Evernote notes to using a notebook. Opening Evernote, clicking “New Note”, creating it, saving it, and exiting the program just took too stinking long compared to the notebook.
  • It’s more appropriate in certain situations. This is a big one for me in church. If I’m listening to a sermon and an idea pops in my head, I can’t really pull out my phone and start typing. It looks really bad (again, intent doesn’t matter – perception is reality). But jotting something down in a notebook isn’t a problem for most people. Plus, again, I can now go back to paying attention to the sermon, which is why I’m there.
  • It forces you to take action. Being backed up in the cloud is great, but it encourages laziness. Think about it: if I wrote something down in a paper notebook that could get wet or fall out of my pocket or get damaged in any number of ways, I’m going to want to make sure I’m up to date on going through the last couple pages. If I dump something in Evernote, I could immediately forget about it.

A pocket notebook is an old-school approach to a common problem: how do you remember stuff? I transfer a lot of my pocket notes into Evernote later, but that extra step encourages remembrance.