My EDC, Part 1: Notebooks

Artfully posed memo books. Because that’s what we notebook victims do.

The first in a series of unavoidably navel-gazey posts on the physical crap I lug around (EDC = Every Day Carry). Read at your peril. 

I started carrying a planner back in 2007, when I was an instructor at UC Merced. With all of the classes I was teaching and meetings I needed to attend, I finally had to get organized, so I picked up a pocket-sized Moleskine planner. I used the little Moleskines for seven years, one per calendar year, and I got a reputation for being the one person in every meeting with a little black book.

(Before I get any farther, I should address the big digital elephant in the room. No, I don’t keep my calendar or notes on my phone. I’ve tried, didn’t like it. And now there’s a raft of studies showing that, hey, whaddayaknow, when people write stuff down they remember it better. But that’s just post-hoc justification – I was already recommitted to longhand analog before those studies were dreamt up. I cast no aspersions on anyone else’s method – if your phone note app thingy works for you, great! May peace be upon your digital organization system.)

So, seven years before the mast of the good ship Moleskine. Then in late 2013 I backed the first Passion Planner on Kickstarter. I had come to the conclusion that the format of the little Moleskine planners was too restrictive. I needed schriebensraum, and inspiration, and the Passion Planner supplied both in sufficient but not overwhelming doses.

I used Passion Planners semi-religiously until this year. I liked the structure of the Passion Planners, but in the end the form factor didn’t work for me. I need something with me all the time – in line at the grocery store, sitting in the drive-through at In-N-Out Burger, scribbling blindly in the dark in a movie theater to nail down that one elusive thought before it flits away (seriously, I have done this, and recently). That’s one thing the Moleskines had over the Passion Planners: they were small enough to fit in my pocket, so I was literally never out of the house without a notebook. I had to remember to take the Passion Planner with me – it didn’t fit in my pocket and therefore wasn’t reflexive, not part of my EDC – and that was the ultimate downfall of the Passion Planner for me.

Choosing to jump ship from Moleskines to Passion Planners was deliberate. Abandoning Passion Planners was less intentional. I didn’t consciously think, “Hey, this isn’t working, I need something else” until that something else came long and lit the light bulb for me.

A Cherry Graph I gave to Vicki, upgraded with a Kamala Harris sticker. Yes, that is a thin veneer of real wood duplexed to the paper cover.

It was another Kickstarter that did it, the one this past summer for Mouse Books. In one epic fit of web-surfing on the evening of June 19, I discovered Mouse Books, which led me to Field Notes, which led me to the bullet journaling community. And at that point I stepped back from the edge. Never went full bullet. But I realized that tons of folks were using pocket notebooks to create their own daily planners and logs, and I figured that might just be the key. Pocketable, so I’d always have it with me, with adequate room to plan each day, and more flexible than either of the canned planners I’d used before. I ordered some Field Notes from Amazon and I was off and running.

(The most important things I did keep from my brief survey of bullet journaling: putting the index at the front of the book and only filling it in as pages get used, and using little arrows to show which tasks have been migrated forward to another day, another page, maybe even another notebook.)

And the cult has absorbed me completely system is working wonderfully. I’ve only missed one meeting or appointment in the last six months, an item from my work calendar that I forgot to transfer into my EDC notebook. At this point my Field Notes usage has expanded to the following:

  • one book as a combination daily planner and log for each month, which is part of my EDC;
  • one that lives on the kitchen counter, specifically for grocery and other shopping lists (Sweet Tooth are perfect for this, with their perforated pages);
  • one for every big trip I take, as a travel notebook;
  • one for every important committee I’m on at work, to keep meeting notes;
  • one for every major strand of my research;
  • one for a fitness journal and calorie counter;
  • one on my nightstand, for thoughts of opportunity.

In fact, if there’s one problem with Field Notes, it’s that their quarterly editions and frequent sales and the constellation of sweet FN-related merch is threatening to bankrupt me.

For example, my Christmas haul.

Next in this series: my long vendetta against wallets.

This entry was posted in EDC, Field Notes, notebooks. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My EDC, Part 1: Notebooks

  1. Pingback: My EDC, Part 2: Wallet | Echo Station 5-7

  2. Pingback: 2017 in notebooks | Echo Station 5-7

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