Why I Carry A Pocket Notebook

Created: 2023-07-28 | Last edited: 2023-09-26

How often do you have a thought that you want to remember and then you go about doing something else and its gone? That used to happen to me all the time. There are so many thoughts that we have throughout the day that may be important. To-dos, boughts of inspiration, random epiphanies and more. Chances are most of these will be just that, thoughts. They will occur and then soon after be gone forever. The solution that works for me is to write these thoughts down. Having to not worry about remembering many things at once frees up brain power for other tasks. Also, especially for to-dos, seeing them written down is a constant reminder that they need to be accomplished.

Many people already write things down; they will have their notes app on their phone for recording fleeting thoughts or maybe a to-do list app to help them stay on top of things. For those that know me or read any future blog posts, you will know that I am not a fan of constant connection and try to not rely on technology (in this case a smartphone) when I don't have to. Not having to rely on having a smartphone and possibly even an internet connection (Some very popular note/to-do software such as Notion do not allow local data storage) is helpful in many circumstances. What if your phone dies? Or if you don't have service? Or maybe you are trying to cut back your smartphone usage. On top of the above reasons, when I used to use my phone for notes more often than not I would get distracted and end up spending time on my phone mindlessly browsing. Sometimes even seeing a notification or a distraction would cause me to forget what I was going to write down in the first place! Regardless the situation, paper will work almost anytime and anywhere and it is distraction free. I will write things down when on a walk, at the gym or basically anywhere since I carry the notebook with me everywhere I go. On top of that, having access to paper allows the ability to draw and format notes in any way imaginable.

Another benefit of carrying a pocket notebook that I have yet to mention is the ability to record statistics about the day. Personally I record my sleep, mood, energy and what I did during the day. I have a simple condensed header that I write each day shown below.

2023-07-28 W:06:00 M:5 E:5 S:22:00

W is for wake, M is for mood, E is for energy and S is for sleep (bedtime). Mood and energy are on a 1-10 scale, although it is not very standardized between days. This allows me to track the basic "stats" of my day all out on one line. This is useful when looking back, trends can be spotted. You may realize that you feel better when you do X, or worse when you do Y. To make my notes easier to parse I also have a small legend for them. "-" meaning a to-do, "*" meaning a quote, and a normal bullet point for any thoughts, ideas or information about the day. On average I only have a couple notes or to-dos each day, so I can usually fit 2 to 4 days on each page. With my small leather cover notebook being around 175 pages, each notebook should last a long time.

I highly encourage everyone reading to try carrying a notebook. There is no barrier to entry, you can buy mini composition notebooks for $0.99. It may also decrease your smartphone usage. When doing a "boring" activity such as waiting at the doctors office, instead of mindlessly consuming content try pulling out the notebook and writing something. So yeah, go buy a notebook, limit your distractibility and work on taking control over your life.

Edit (2023-09-26): Unfortunately as of recently I have not been carrying my notebook around with me. With being at school and having due dates and such, it has proven easier to have a text document where I plan my whole week out at once and check things off as I do them each day. I still love the idea of carrying a notebook and may start again just for the purpose of tracking my day and jotting things down. I have gotten out of my flow since coming back to school and I am working on fixing that.