For over eight years now, the Moleskine notebook has been my preferred way to take notes, record thoughts and track my to do’s in the analog world. I always go for the black, 8×5 size with rule.
It has so many cool things going for it. It’s compact, easy to carry, has a ribbon marker to find your place and a clever elastic closer. There is also a pocket glued into the back endpaper to hold small bits of paper or business cards. You also look pretty important when you sport one of these to a meeting or are sitting in a Starbucks with your iPhone.
But it’s not without its problems. First, at some point the book gets full, then you have to carry two for a while as you migrate to the new one. Another challenge is finding something you wrote months ago; no search feature. The mind can recreate a chronology to some degree, but not exactly. So you find yourself thumbing pages. As you get older that skill recedes while the need to write things down so you don’t forget increases.
Here are my secrets to the art of managing Moleskine.
- Always date each and every page in the header. That way you can easily see where you are as you flip back
- Develop a categorization schema for what you record
- To do’s are preceded by a box. Completed tasks are then checked off. Makes it a fast read to see what you still need to do
- Innovations/ideas are designated with a ψ
- Notes taken during meetings with several people get this •
- One on one meetings are noted in this fashion >
- Strategy thoughts are given ∞
All of these symbols are placed left aligned for easy scanning. I tend to go back and forth between cursive and printing, and my penmanship has gotten pretty bad. But I can read it, and that’s all that matters. Having bad handwriting helps when your Moleskine is summoned in legal cases, as they can’t read what you’ve written, and the symbols confuse them.
But perhaps the most difficult feature of the Moleskine is how much you put down for a reward. At first there isn’t much written, so the value is low. It gets higher the longer you write, with the highest amount being at the three-quarters mark. After that it goes down again, and when you are on the last few pages you essentially have a nostalgia file. Fortunately I haven’t lost one yet, but you never know.