In Why I use notebooks I discussed why I prefer physical notebooks over digital notebooks. However, I feel like it is time that I revisited this as I have gotten some findings that surprise me.

First of let talk about how I organise my notes. I have two types of not temporal and persistent. These classification are necessary as it effect where I write my notes.

Temporal notes, are notes I will only need until a task is done. This could be how a certain data protocol wants data organised in packet type A, B, and C. I am likely not needing that for a long time as I can always read the code I write later, when it is related to work. These notes I most often write on loose leafed paper or on a note block. If I believe a temporal note is worthy of being persistent I will transfer it to my persistent note storage. Which is a notebook.

Persistent notes I keep in one or more notes, I am addicted to notebooks. Persistent notes are notes where I feel this information could be useful further down the line. For work it could be a specific Software library and what it does or a software architecture and how it is defined. Privately, it could be a “journal” of a fermentation process and what I messed up in case I did.

This split between temporal and persistent notes, lets my mind run garbage collection and throw out notes I no longer need from my valuable head space. Or at least it avoids it from taking up prime seats. Additionally, by having my notes in notebooks and often sorted by topic I have the options to quickly find my notes and go through them. You could do the same on a computer of course, but there is something about the tactile feeling that makes it more fitting for me.

I even bring a notebook to meetings and take notes as detailed as possible, and I have one just for meetings. This does two things, first of it shows other participants in the meeting that I take it seriously and want to grasp what the meeting is about. I have gotten compliments on this multiple times. Secondly, it enables me to write very concise summaries of meetings, which I can then send by email to all participants so we have a record of what was agreed. We can even discuss if my notes are correct. Sometimes my meeting summaries have let to a discussion about something that was misunderstood and once (just once) have it saved my behind, because half the team had completely misunderstood a task.

Now we move on to what is actually the most important part of this for me. Recollection! I find that weeks after I have taken a note by hand and placed it in my persistent note storage, then I can actually recall it. This means that I do not need to look something up again, which then means I am saving time. And time is simply a resource you can never get back.

I am unsure if it is the tactile feeling of pen to paper that makes remember but there is something about it that is just different. I think what has changed the most is how I separate my note taking between temporal and persistent. I think it makes my brain more susceptible to remembering, but I am not sure.

I will keep updating you on how this continues for me.