Understanding: Notebooks

15 January 2024 • 2024 Theme

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As part of my 2024 theme, Year of Understanding, I’m doing a bunch of introspection about various things. This is one of a series of posts about me working towards understanding some aspect of my life.

Write it down.

I can still hear my dad telling me that phrase over and over and over again as I grew up. Write it down. Is it important? Do you need to remember it? Write it down.

I was always terrible at taking notes growing up, and still am to this day. In class? Eh… I’d get some of it. A planner? I’d use it for a week or two, and then it’d get lost in my backpack somewhere. A journal? Good luck. A pocketbook filled with joyous moments? Abandoned. A little musical ideas notebook? I feel weird about adding things to it, so it lays abandoned.

I’ve always been envious of people that take notes on paper, and/or have an interesting and varied enough life that warrants something like that. Same with people who draw and have oodles of sketchbooks, or nice pen collections with which to write things. The whole “scene” surrounding notebooks and writing has always been very appealing to me (I’ve got a massive stack of notebooks around here somewhere, including a really nice leather-bound one my wife got me as a gift years ago). And yet, try as I might, I cannot break into it at all. Especially now, in my Work From Home era, when I just wear sweatpants or shorts around the house and don’t have any of my EDC stuff on me.

Also, there’s that stupid pressure of “oh jeez, do I REALLY want to use THIS notebook for THIS topic?” or “well, now that I’ve used 1-3 pages of a project that’s abandoned, I can’t use this notebook anymore”… brains are weird.

For me, digital is so convenient. It’s faster for me to write. It’s portable, now that I carry a smartphone around every day. It’s legible, as my handwriting is objectively terrible. I’m also not a very sentimental person, so while I think it would be cool to have something worth keeping around, I’m not prone to forcing the issue (see: the joyous moments notebook project being abandoned).

The one place that it’s managed to actually stay present in my life? The weekly checklist.

My wife and I have 2 shared reminders lists; one is our grocery list, and the other a list of things to be done around the house. Both of these are more of a “don’t forget about X” thing, as opposed to what I’d deem to be things I want to take action on with any sort of urgency.

At some point last year, I started jotting down the list of things that I wanted to accomplish each week on a scratch pad at my desk. It was similar to what I’d been doing in my Theme Journals of the past, but rather than daily lists, I settled with weekly. It seems to be a perfect fit for me; enough of a reminder that makes me want to get things done, but passive enough that I don’t feel any guilt about not accomplishing things.

What Do I Understand Now?

I’m not someone who sticks with writing anything long-form down with pen & paper.

Am I OK With This Understanding?

Yes; ultimately, any instance of me trying to use a notebook for anything has been because other people do it, and I want to feel hip/cool.

What Will I Change With This Understanding

  • Continue to use my weekly checklists
  • Stop buying more notebooks for things; I have plenty
  • Remove anything related to writing from any sort of long term wishlist (sorry, Cortex and Studio Neat - you’re not getting my money)
  • Give more consideration to the “why” of doing something; is it for me, or is it because others do it?