Moleskines and working methodologies

by Lee Hopkins on February 22, 2006 · 20 comments

in miscellaneous

My Moleskine pocket notebook with tabs

The challenge one often faces with a new toy is how to take best advantage of it, how to shape and structure it for optimum reward, both intrinsic and pragmatic.

This is no different with my new Moleskine notebook.

I did think of breaking it into sections:

  • Blog ideas
  • Personal ideas
  • Miscellaneous

as the photo at the top of this post shows.

However, upon reflection I realise that I am very much a ‘stream of consciousness’ writer, so partitioning my paper hard drive, as it were, is not how my brain works (much to Mrs BetterComms’ annoyance).

Rather than focussing on what I can’t do and attempting to re-wire my brain, I’m going to follow Kathy Sierra‘s excellent (as always) advice and concentrate on my strengths.

So the Post-It tabs have been removed and my Moleskine will be filled with ink in a strictly chronological fashion.

Now that I have the current litidigerati’s toy of choice and a nice fountain pen, I expect witticisms that rival Wilde and commentaries that eclipse Chatwin to pour like liquid gold from between the acid-free sheets.


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  • ALR

    Perosnally I make the first three pages an index and number the pages as I go. Then just write, when I continue a topic I put in link indications to the previous or succeeding page on the topic. It makes following things a little trickier but I don’t feel constrained by sections and scale. I write on a topic until I don’t feel the need to write any more, move onto something else, then come back to the topic later. I started also identifying links on the index pages as well.

  • ALR

    Perosnally I make the first three pages an index and number the pages as I go. Then just write, when I continue a topic I put in link indications to the previous or succeeding page on the topic. It makes following things a little trickier but I don’t feel constrained by sections and scale. I write on a topic until I don’t feel the need to write any more, move onto something else, then come back to the topic later. I started also identifying links on the index pages as well.

  • Lee

    WOW! That’s a really cool working method. Sounds even too organised for me :-)

    I guess that having blogged for nearly a year now, the blog mentality of self-contained thought pieces has either become engrained in my working style, or else ‘blog style’ is how my brain works anyway (I personally think the latter). Which is why blogging has become so much a part of my life — it’s how my brain works. You have no idea how hard it can be to *not* blog about something I’ve just thought about, because it’s completely off-topic or just too personal for every one else’s comfort levels.

  • Lee

    WOW! That’s a really cool working method. Sounds even too organised for me :-)

    I guess that having blogged for nearly a year now, the blog mentality of self-contained thought pieces has either become engrained in my working style, or else ‘blog style’ is how my brain works anyway (I personally think the latter). Which is why blogging has become so much a part of my life — it’s how my brain works. You have no idea how hard it can be to *not* blog about something I’ve just thought about, because it’s completely off-topic or just too personal for every one else’s comfort levels.

  • ALR

    I think I saw the suggestion on lifehacker or something like that. It’s not original :)

  • ALR

    I think I saw the suggestion on lifehacker or something like that. It’s not original :)

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    Original or not, it’s new to me — sounds like a good strategy.

    Too late for my current Moleskin, but certainly the next one will use this system (assuming that my addled brain remembers it).

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    Original or not, it’s new to me — sounds like a good strategy.

    Too late for my current Moleskin, but certainly the next one will use this system (assuming that my addled brain remembers it).

  • Alice

    You can put the index in the back and work towards the front (while writing from front to back). Unlikely to run out of space, or waste pages that way.
    And if you are left handed just reverse it all. Start at the back, writing on the left hand pages, with the index starting from the front of the book.

  • Alice

    You can put the index in the back and work towards the front (while writing from front to back). Unlikely to run out of space, or waste pages that way.
    And if you are left handed just reverse it all. Start at the back, writing on the left hand pages, with the index starting from the front of the book.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    Goodness me — that’s WAAAY to complex for me {smile}.

    I remember how, many years ago when I was a male secretary, a department I worked in used to file all their correspondence on projects in reverse order, so that you always put the newest letter on top and didn’t have to flip all of the pages over in the folder to enter a new one. Very smart process, I thought. I’ve since used that method on all my paper-based project tracking (using Doug Johnston’s D*I*Y Planner sheets). Works a treat!

    But the idea of using that ‘from the back to the front’ idea in a bound book is just too much of a mind-shake for me to cope with. Pass me another cup of java and I’ll have another crack at believing I can work that way! {grin}

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    Goodness me — that’s WAAAY to complex for me {smile}.

    I remember how, many years ago when I was a male secretary, a department I worked in used to file all their correspondence on projects in reverse order, so that you always put the newest letter on top and didn’t have to flip all of the pages over in the folder to enter a new one. Very smart process, I thought. I’ve since used that method on all my paper-based project tracking (using Doug Johnston’s D*I*Y Planner sheets). Works a treat!

    But the idea of using that ‘from the back to the front’ idea in a bound book is just too much of a mind-shake for me to cope with. Pass me another cup of java and I’ll have another crack at believing I can work that way! {grin}

  • http://allanjenkins.typepad.com/ Allan Jenkins

    Ooooh! You got a Moleskine! Aren’t they terrific?

    I use one of mine only for ideas and thoughts, and the other for my compulsive list taking. No business notes, no shopping lists. Keep them sacred to one purpose & they become remarkably useful and valuable.

  • http://allanjenkins.typepad.com Allan Jenkins

    Ooooh! You got a Moleskine! Aren’t they terrific?

    I use one of mine only for ideas and thoughts, and the other for my compulsive list taking. No business notes, no shopping lists. Keep them sacred to one purpose & they become remarkably useful and valuable.

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  • Andrew

    Like Allan, I use two Moleskines. The one with ruled pages is used for taking notes at meetings – complete with my own symbols in the left hand margins (checkboxes for actions, flags for hot issues etc). Each day starts with a new page with the date written on the top line. Lots of meetings in 1 day = lots of pages of notes.

    The one with blank pages is my personal journal. It has everything from traditional “journal” text when I feel like dropping thoughts on paper, through goals and the related steps and targets, through to mind-map summaries of things I have read or studied. I number the pages and have a mind-map that takes up a double page at the front where I “index” topics.

  • Andrew

    Like Allan, I use two Moleskines. The one with ruled pages is used for taking notes at meetings – complete with my own symbols in the left hand margins (checkboxes for actions, flags for hot issues etc). Each day starts with a new page with the date written on the top line. Lots of meetings in 1 day = lots of pages of notes.

    The one with blank pages is my personal journal. It has everything from traditional “journal” text when I feel like dropping thoughts on paper, through goals and the related steps and targets, through to mind-map summaries of things I have read or studied. I number the pages and have a mind-map that takes up a double page at the front where I “index” topics.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    G’day Andrew,

    Certainly I agree with you on the blank, unruled pages being reserved for your more personal text. Once I have filled the pages of my first moleskine, I will be purchasing a same-sized one with blank pages. I find the lines cramp my thoughts, plus the paper still allows my scrawl from one side be slightly visible on the other.
    I guess I’m too ‘precious’… :-)

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    G’day Andrew,

    Certainly I agree with you on the blank, unruled pages being reserved for your more personal text. Once I have filled the pages of my first moleskine, I will be purchasing a same-sized one with blank pages. I find the lines cramp my thoughts, plus the paper still allows my scrawl from one side be slightly visible on the other.
    I guess I’m too ‘precious’… :-)

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