A notebook is the perfect solution to so many situations: facing that blank white screen or starting out on a new project, finding yourself at a cafe without a book, or wrestling with a million to-dos. I rely on a computer as much as the next guy, and would be lost without Evernote. But nothing beats a blank piece of paper and a 2B pencil to get me thinking.
My love of stationery means I’m always noticing notebooks. The carpenter who fitted the new kitchen got my instant seal of approval for using Field Notes. The perfect notebook for everyday, they fit in a back pocket, with a soft cover, feint squared paper, and a ruler marked on the back (ok, I’ve never used the ruler, but I like the idea that I might.)
I type my to do lists and meeting notes, but both jobs are far better on the odd occasion when I get out paper and pencil. I was in a meeting yesterday where we had paper taped to the table. People kept adding to it as our plans developed, or pointed to previous points to recall them. We were, quite literally, all on the same page. I stumbled across this talk on graphic recording which puts it perfectly.
When working in pre-schools I often recommend visual schedules to help children with limited language or high anxiety know what to expect in their day. And I’ve realised I do this for myself. I’ve heard frequent mention of people with ‘too many open tabs’ in the brain: so many things rumbling in the background, so much to do, and all a bit of a jumble. Doodling helps me iron these out.
And my doodling is dodgy. I don’t have a great wealth of artistic skill to call upon; I lack perspective, scale, shape. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve got over being embarrassed about my bad drawing and I actually like to share this weakness with others. It makes our conversations feel more honest, less about putting up our ‘best front’.
I can’t give up the screen; it makes my life so much easier. Computers keep me organised and efficient. But paper brings me joy and inspiration.