Note Taking

As writers, we’re always looking for a fresh way to describe something. We’ve all had those inspirational moments where we either have to remember a certain flow of words or scribble them on a scrap of paper.

A lot of writing books and blogs suggest we carry journals with us at all times. I’ve tried this, and for me, it doesn’t work. I’ve tried standard organizers. I’ve tried notebooks. Neither are usually with me when I need them most. This left me scrambling for a something to write on (and with). I even tried spiral bound notebooks small enough to fit into my purse (cheaper than moleskines of similar size). I found the size itself a limiting factor.

What to do?

If I’m at my desk, no problem. I type in my notes on the computer. If I’m not at my desk, but still in the house, distributed notepads work wonders. But, if I’m away from the house? I’ve turned to my cell phone which has a built-in recorder. It syncs with iTunes, so I can label the note and store them on the computer for later use. If your cell phone doesn’t have this capability, try other small recording devices. If you don’t have one, some are relatively inexpensive.

In fact, my cell phone has become an indispensable tool in my note taking. I can snap pictures, tap out notes, or use the voice recorder. It doesn’t completely remove my need for spiral notepads, but it sure helps.

Once a week, I collect the notepads and sit in front of my computer, along with my cell phone and organize any notes I’ve taken. Of course, organization is a whole different topic and problem. Some notes are easy to organize if they pertain to a particular project. Others? It can be a bit more cumbersome.

For those obsessive GTD folks (that occasionally includes me), my approach voids the rule of having only one tool to deposit all information. All I can say is that aside from that rule, my strategy has worked so far.

Got a tip? A suggestion? What works for you?


4 thoughts on “Note Taking

  1. Hey Michelle,
    Funny you should mention this, I don’t always have pen and paper or a word processing device to hand. However whenever Im out and about I do have my MP3 player which does have built in voice recorder, its a quick and easy way to get the idea down without having to worry about losing the idea.

    Price wise they’re very cheap and if its just to get the odd idea or interview down (ie you’ll get it notated not long after recording) then you can pick them up for a song (UK expression meaning quite cheaply.)

    Obviously any one you look but the lower the memory on one the cheaper they are. Some supermarkets have a 2 gig one (with recorder built in) for under £20, which if you’ve got your music on and still have space for voice recording and you’re pretty set.

    • I was very tempted to mention MP3 players. We have an older Creative Labs MP3 player that is also a recorder.

      Apple just released their new Nanos that have video and a built-in recorder.

      I have an iPhone 3G (not the 3Gs), and I love it. The sound quality is quite good and I’m used to the keyboard. Much better now that they have cut & paste and the keyboard works in landscape mode.

      LOL! You never know when the next inspiration hits, so it’s always good to have some sort of note taking tool.

  2. I have a Moleskine notebook that fits in my purse (a friend gave me three of them last Christmas), so sometimes I use that. I also have a paper and pen beside my bed, in case inspriation strikes in the middle of the night, but that seldom happens.

    Since I am home in my small apartment most of the time and there is lots of paper around (too much really, but never mind), it’s not usually a problem.

    There’s also a bulletin board and I tack phrases up there sometimes.

    Now, if I’m out and don’t have paper and pen, I could call my home phone and leave myself a message on call answer. I hadn’t thought of that before, so thanks for the idea.

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