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I am going to be brutally honest here and I know it's my fault for not taking notes during the notepad and pen podcast.  I listened to this podcast several weeks ago and forgot what I should have as a notebook.  I did just the opposite of the podcast and purchased a flimsy notpad at the supermarket.  I re-listened to the podcast today and had some specific questions about the notebook.  I work for Federal Law Enforcement agency and am making around $60,000 in DC.  What are some suggestions as to a good notepad and pen?  I currently have a notepad from my university (I am a new proffesional just graduated two years ago) my notepad is black that has a zipper on three sides.  The It is a leed's notepad, pretty standard.  The inside has a notepad on the right and the left has business card slots and i.d.  Should I just keep this notepad with me.  I really do not like the notepad because when I want a new page I have to flip the page up and it looks sloppy.  What are your suggestions?

Mythraine's picture

I'm in conservation law enforcement.  I've searched for various journals and pens(for citations and meetings).  I discovered this site (below) and have purchased items after consulting the reviews postedt here.  Hope it helps.

I'm finding that keeping a journal with meeting notes and ideas for articles, program and professional development have helped to set me on an increasingly professional path.  Of course, Manager Tools is a huge part of this progression in my personal/professional development.

After recently reading, by audiobook,The Virgin Way by Sir Richard Branson

[ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22129114-the-virgin-way ] , I was surprised and exciited to read that he keeps notebooks and pens handy to capture his ideas.  Good enough for him is good enough for me!

You'll find that the Pen Addict also reviews paper, i.e., notebooks, as well as pens, fountain pens and pencils of various types and designs.

https://www.penaddict.com/top-5-pens/

Here's to working smarter!

edzaun's picture

 Hi Jazzbone,

Because of the nature of the notes I take, I also found the Cornell system a bit difficult to deal with. I adapted what M&M recommended in the podcast to suit my needs and do not reserve the bottom 3rd of the page. I use the whole page for my notes and developed a symbol system to call out the various categories of items and put the symbols in the left-hand margin where they are plainly visible at a glance.

For example, a Go-Do always has an arrow in the margin pointing at the item. If it is a Go-Do for me, there is just an arrow.  If it is a Go-Do for someone else, I put that person's initials in a circle above the horizontal line of the arrow.

An important point someone else brings up is signified by an exclamation point, something I put on the floor uses an asterisk. Follow up required items use a horizontal line with an upwards pointing arrow on the right-hand end. Decisions are marked with a star.

I have about twenty symbols altogether. Some of them, I simply stole from the podcast, like a person's initial in a circle, because it was there and no need for me to invent my own.

I do use only the right-hand page and reserve the left for very important things I want to find easily, such as feedback. I use at least one page per day and move to a new page each day even if the page is not full. I also paperclip each week together as an index so I can easily go back and find things I need, even if they happened four or five weeks ago. I need to keep my notebooks for a long time due to the nature of my job so the indexing helps.

When I review my notes, all I need do is run down the left margin and pick out the symbols for what I am looking for.

Since you are using a smaller notebook than I am (8 1/2" x 11"), you might find this system a little easier to deal with.

 

Ed Zaun

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jazzbone1031's picture

Thanks, Ed, for the reply. And that does sound quite reasonable. If I stick with the pocket size notebook, I will probably use that suggestion or something similar. I am also toying with the idea of carrying a larger notebook (moleskine large squared) and using the bullet journal system. The only thing stopping me from wholeheartedly jumping into that system is the idea of carrying a larger notebook. I've also had another system, that seems a little more suited to my retail environment (ETP). 

I'll decide soon. I have to. I'm tired of researching it. LOL.

edzaun's picture

Hi Jazzbone,

As a follow up, I also have occasion to use a pocket-sized notebook in place of my normal book. Some of my work requires me to be in the field, climbing through equipment and up and down ladders. Carrying my normal notebook in the field is impractical as well as unsafe (we are required to have nothing in our hands when climbing a ladder) so I change over to the smaller model. The system works perfectly with the smaller book and I simply transfer the notes I take in the field over to the main book so all my notes are in one place. 

If you need your hands to do your job frequently, stay with the smaller notebook. If you have the bigger one you must constantly put down, you will leave it somewhere when you get distracted have to move on to something else.

 

Ed Zaun

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edzaun's picture

 Hi Glenn,

Your point about culture and adapting MT concepts to an individual situation is very important. Thank you for making it.

Mark and Mike often say MT practices should fit 90% of managers 90% of the time, clearly  stating it does not cover everything and implying we must adapt. Standing out a bit is almost always a good thing when it come to professionalism and productivity, flaunting it is not.

On the topic of this thread, I use a black spiral-wound notebook I get through internal procurement. It has an alligator-skin pattern on the cover and looks more professional than the cardboard covered spiral-wounds many of those who take notes use. It sounds incredible after listening to MT, but some senior managers two levels above me use the cardboard notebooks. Some people print out their daily calendar from Outlook and use that piece of paper to take notes. Not everyone at the meetings I attend takes notes.

That being said, I take the opinion of using MT advice as a default position and only adapt when I know I must. For example, some of my directs are represented employees, so I cannot use the direct feedback model. O3's are out of the question with represented directs, but my exempt directs are very familiar with them. With represented directs, the peer-to-peer feedback model works well.

The take-away here is: MT advice works. Use it undiluted first and adapt only where you have to.

Thanks for reminding the group that MT is a guide and not a straight-jacket.

Ed Zaun

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jazzbone1031's picture

Actually, my wife made this suggestion to me just tonight. So, I think I will try this and see how it goes. 

spiderwj's picture

I am experimenting with my notebooks to try and find the right system.  Presently, I am using a ARC by staples notebook that I can pull pages out of.  I

Each day I use a single sheet for my "daily notes" and planning.  I use a separate page for each recurring meeting.  At the end of the week, I remove the notes for the recurring meetings and file them in a folder to keep all my meeting notes together.  At the end of the month, I scan the "daily notes" and archive the paper copy.  This keeps my notebook from become too large or cumbersome.  I take a lot of notes.  More than I should I 'm sure...

I would like to move to a more hard-bound notebook; however, I am not sure how to handle keeping notes from regular meetings together.  Does anyone else have this issue?  Do you keep them together or just leave them in the hardbound notebook in the chronological order and flip around if needed?

edzaun's picture

 Hi Spider,

I prefer the hard cover. Your notes are in chronological order and with regular meetings, it is no problem finding the portion you want.

It also has the added benefit of proving your notes are contemporaneous, should you every have the need. It is very difficult to argue pen-written notes in the middle of a page, sandwiched in middle of a notebook are not timely and taken on the spot. This has saved my bacon more than once with short memories.

Ed Zaun

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tpedrick's picture

I have been keeping hand written notes since before college and continue to do so.  I have tried the use of technology but, found that there is a disconnect with the notes I take using it.  Pen and paper seems to allow my mind to retain and recall the information much more efficiently.  I have used several different notebooks over the years from the horrible spiral bound notebooks to the hardbound Rhodia webbooks with some of the best paper I've ever written on.  All my experimentation was in the hopes of finding the "perfect" notebook.  My conclusion was that much of the decision is taste and circumstance.  For instance, I currently keep several notebooks.  All are for different purposes.  I have a commonplace book (a classic hardbound Moleskine notebook), for reading; a journal (a Midori travelers notebook); a notebook for work (pocket Moleskine hardbound); & a fitness log (a Field Notes Pitch Black series notebook).  I have found that depending on the content and situation will determine the notebook that is best for me.  I tend to write with a fountain pen for "normal" writing and so for journaling the Midori is great.  (Not to get technical but, the paper accepts the ink without bleeding through and flows smoothly while I write.)  I tend to prefer the pocket Moleskine for work because it allows me to carry it around in a pocket while I walk around, the hardbound cover keeps it looking professional.  

My best suggestion is to experiment with different things till you find the one system that works for you.  For years I was forced into using the Franklin-Covey planning system.  Its a great system but, I don't use it well.  It is a system that is not set up to logically work with the way I think and organize things and for years was "manipulating" the planner to work for me.  

There are so many choices for notebooks for a  reason, everyone is different.  What works for me may not work for anyone else.  

Live, experiment, learn and have fun with it...

Respectfully,

T. David Pedrick

cruss's picture

I have recently gone back to taking notes on paper with the Staples Arc Notebook. They have a nice 'leather' cover version in either black or brown (which i have). If anyone is familiar with Levenger's Circa notebooks, this is simply a less expensive version of the same thing. The best part is the removal of pages for archiving or rearranging. Second is that they offer lined, grid, and cornell style pages which you can mix and match to create exactly the notebook you want.

For the previous year I had used my Nexus 7 tablet, a Truglide stylus, and a app called Handrite to take hand written notes in meetings. I found that by laying the tablet down flat and obviously 'taking notes' as if writing in a notebook I was able to make it clear that I wasn't checking my email. This countered much of the "you aren't paying attention" view of using technology during meetings. I should note that I work in an IT department and many people come to meetings with either laptops, iPads, or MS Surface tablets. 

So why did I stop? I found I was writting down less than I thought I should. For me going back to paper was about minimizing friction and maximizing how much I captured. I'm taking way more notes on paper than I did with my tablet.

As for a Pen, I found a professional looking pen/stylus combo with a metal barrel to cary with me. I do still cary my Nexus, I just don't use it durring meetings. At my desk I have the 'professional' version of the Pilot G2 and I keep several regular G2s in my bag, in my desk, at home, just laying anywhere i may need a pen. All of them are Blue ink. I went to blue years ago to see clearly what I was writing on printouts and have never looked back.

Canyon R

DRRobinson's picture

 

This may have been mentioned, but I just discovered that Moleskine has a "Professional Notebook" (http://amzn.com/8866134635) with "an original and simple graphic layout to help keep notes organised. It is especially designed for meetings, with areas for names and agenda, in-depth notes and key subjects, and action points and next steps." The page layout is similar to the Cornell system. They're a bit pricier than other Moleskines, but I love the layout.

 DR

David Robinson
Atlanta

DRRobinson's picture

 

This may have been mentioned, but I just discovered that Moleskine has a "Professional Notebook" (http://amzn.com/8866134635) with "an original and simple graphic layout to help keep notes organised. It is especially designed for meetings, with areas for names and agenda, in-depth notes and key subjects, and action points and next steps." The page layout is similar to the Cornell system. They're a bit pricier than other Moleskines, but I love the layout.

 DR

David Robinson
Atlanta

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