Note Refinement and the Worthy Notebook

   I wrote last year about how napkin notes allow multiple trains of thought... on paper... at once. Not bad, for those of us that are multi-tasking-challenged. But napkin notes, by themselves, have problems. They're really fragile, for example, and it's all too easy for someone to use one to wipe up a spill because... that's what you do with a napkin. They crumple up and literally disintegrate if you carry a wad of them around in your pocket for a few days. And they're easy to lose.

   Recently, I've been doing something else: a couple days after working on the napkins, once the ideas have had time to percolate, I've begun taking another pass at them, and moving all the ideas to a notebook worthy of ideas. Inevitably, the original ideas are really scattered, as ideas almost always are at birth. But restating them refines them, and also expands them.

   I believe this effect is magnified by the "worthy notebook." Here's why: when a notebook is good enough that you might keep it for a lifetime, then you're likely to give a little more effort to refining the idea as you translate it from the napkin notes. I just bought my first moleskine today at Heathrow, and it clearly has the "worthy notebook" effect. It's very important that moleskines aren't too pretty, however. Just a simple black leather cover, and plain near-white pages. Notebooks more elaborate might be an impediment to use, because you don't want anything within them not to be perfect. A moleskine, IMO, invites invention and creativity, but it's worthy enough to endure. Mixing living and lasting. Right on target, if you ask me.

© 2012 The Guild Foundation Press