I'll be the first to admit it, I'm a "process junkie." A lot of times I get more wrapped up in what I'm writing in and what I'm writing with than in what I'm actually writing. The end result is the same thing that a lot of people in this community complain about: having a dozen pens inked up and another dozen half-finished notebooks with sharpened pencils scattered everywhere. I finally got tired of this, and lately I've been working on developing a coherent, clutter-free system for collecting my thoughts while still providing some enjoyable variety in terms of the products I use on a daily basis.
I've never been able to use organizers, so the Hobonichi Techo is not an option for me (putting aside the fact that I really, really want one, just because...). I've explored various "systems": I like the bullet journal system, and Getting Things Done was a revelation, but neither provided everything that I needed on a day-to-day basis. What I've settled on is a mash-up of both, taking the filing, organizational, and information processing aspects of GTD and merging them with the monthly/daily task list elements of the Bullet Journal System.
So here's what I've found myself using the most and how I've been using it:
- Daily Calendar: Iphone with Outlook. I need the automatic reminders of deadlines and meetings, (especially for things people schedule without my knowledge). While I'll sometimes write a particularly important appointment down on my "daily list" in my pocket notebook (sort of an "I'm writing it down to remember it now" thing), given the nature of my work an electronic calendar is really the only thing that's foolproof enough for me to use.
- Daily Notebook: What I call my "Daily Notebook" is where I keep my Daily/Weekly/Monthly "Task Lists" of things I need to complete during those time frames. This doubles as a sort of "daily journal" that I can look back on and revisit what I accomplished on any given day. I also keep other short lists here, such as grocery lists, housework lists, bills to pay, used books, music and video games to be on the lookout for, etc... This notebook is almost always a pocket notebook such as a Field Notes, Word. Notebook, Backpocket Journal, or Doane Paper Utility Journal although I am currently using the slightly larger-size Doane Utility Notebook now. While I love Doane products, I'm not sure how I feel about the larger Utility Notebook, because my Daily Notebook should go everywhere with me, and pocket-size works better for this purpose.
- Work Notebook: I take a lot of handwritten notes during the typical workday, generally in meetings. These can last a while, and go on for pages. It's more comfortable to take these notes in a larger book. Borrowing from the Bullet Journal, I don't use a different notebook for each subject, but rather devote the first few pages to an index, number the pages, and just start a fresh page for a new meeting/telephone call. Currently I'm using a TWSBI lined notebook with the soft cover and elastic closure. I love the paper for both pen and pencil, and the notebook seems like it has lasted forever.
- Scratch Pad: I always carry around some sort of writing tablet or notebook with perforated pages that I can use to sketch out ideas, outlines, and/or drafts. If I need to save the material, I'll tear it out and scan or file it. If not, I'll shred and recycle. Lately, this has been a pad of Doane Paper or a perforated Fabriano Grid Notebook. The pads of Tomoe River Paper sold by Nanami are also excellent, but tend to get bent out of shape and don't hold up well in a briefcase.
What's your "system"? In talking with various people in this community and reading stuff that we've all posted, I've learned that most people have them, and many people develop a system on their own that works for them. I find this process fascinating because it provides pretty clear insight into how we think and process information. Please share if you want!
I've focused a lot on product reviews recently, so I thought I would shake things up a bit with some different content. You may also have noticed that my posting has been sporadic over the past few weeks, and that's due to a heavy work travel schedule that's left me very little time to test out new things and brainstorm on some new ideas. This won't last forever, but my traditional Monday-Weds-Friday posting schedule is probably going to suffer in near future, so bear with me.