On paper notebooks in a digital world

Since the summer of 2011, I’ve carried a notebook with me.

It started as a way to journal on the go, but that was replaced by Day One pretty quickly. My use of paper notebooks evolved into a low-friction capture system for notes during phone calls, meetings and brainstorming sessions.

For a while, I stored them in a big Ziploc bag, but that didn’t scale for long. It was hard to go back and find notes later, and as work got busy, I was burning through notebooks pretty quickly. Before long, I had a stack of filled notebooks hanging around.

I started scanning my notebooks after about a year of using them heavily. By making high-res PDFs named by the dates the notebook was in use, it became easier to go back and find anything that hadn’t made it into OmniFocus or Evernote.

For physical storage, I sprung for the Field Notes Archival Wooden Box. It’s a luxury in a world where a shoebox would have worked just fine, but I like the way it looks on my bookcase.

In a digital world, there’s still a place for things like paper notebooks. They can’t cause distractions in meetings and don’t require Wi-Fi. While I try to be good and not have much just in a Field Notes notebook, if something is, I can get my hands on it later quickly.