Making notes

I was reading this blog post by Austin Kleon and it made me think of my notebook/journaling habits. I love writing notes, I’ve always been interested in note-making and journaling techniques and enjoy reading about the issue. I don’t keep a traditional personal journal or diary though. The biggest reason for that is my high need for privacy and maybe an irrational fear of someone reading my personal thoughts without my permission. I do agree with Kleon about a notebook being a good place to have bad ideas and I try to write small notes and ideas in my notebooks all the time before letting them grow somewhere else.

When I was a child I didn’t have enough privacy with my diaries and after some disappointments learnt to be careful. I’m careful even with my blog notes when I sometimes have an idea and sketch a post in my notebook before having time to properly write it in my blog. I write all personal notes with “busy handwriting” to keep it difficult to read for outsiders which naturally makes it often too difficult to read for myself as well. Keeping a proper personal journal could make drawing the line in personal issues easier but for my own peace of mind I’ve decided to write only things I can publish. Whatever I write it needs to be something I can eventually publish to the whole world.

I think we all need our privacy. I tell my kids I would never read their personal messages or look their mobiles without their permission, it would be wrong. If there’s ever anything important I need to know I ask them (and in some cases would of course prefer them telling me without asking). I wouldn’t mind sharing my personal messages with my husband if he asked, there’s nothing secretive in them, but he would never ask that. It wouldn’t make any sense and we both respect each other’s privacy and I feel lucky to have someone I totally trust in my life.

My notes are mostly facts and details about places I visit or things I read or see and find interesting and want to remember later. I make notes when I’m trying to learn something new and in addition to quotes use also a lot of mind maps (my favorites) and simple lists. If I want to write down my thoughts just to organize them I use a separate paper and write everything I have in mind and bin the paper afterwards. I used to collect magazines and have boxes of clips but to have less clutter I these days just immediately cut the pic or page and add it to my notebook so I can have everything in one place (meaning no magazine piles or clip boxes).

I’m horrible with calendars and after having tried many different systems again and again have decided not to even have a calendar. Fixed schedules give me rash and I try not to have them on daily basis and for important meetings or appointments I have a mobile alarm and for travel days I write the details in my notebook. I’ve done some bullet journaling and found the system interesting and quite brilliant but as it’s another kind of calendar I’ve given up the habit and use now three types of notebooks for different purposes instead.

I use basic blank soft-cover Moleskine journals to document everything I want to properly document and the one in the pic is for writing down vocabulary I need to remember. The teal color is my favorite and I buy always that if available. I add magazine clips to my notebooks to make them more interesting, to store my clips and to avoid paying too much attention to my handwriting (which can be disturbing). I like Moleskine because they are usually easily available at airports and like the idea of having all my notebooks same size in case I want to keep them after they are full (which I do only if they are carefully enough done and that’s not always the case).

For traveling I’ve used a couple of editions of Traveler’s Notebooks and I originally chose it because it consists of several separate notebooks so I can easily carry one in my pocket if needed and also start another inside when the previous one is full and fill as many as needed. My original thought was to use one leather cover and just change the notebooks inside every year as leather ages beautifully but the notebooks I filled for my trips during 2015 looked so lovely put together that I wanted to keep them inside the covers and bought new covers for 2016.

I love the travel journal collection I made for 2015 and very much regret not having made similar for every year and especially being lazy with my 2016 edition because that was a big traveling year for me. Inside the leather covers I had notebooks for travel details (flights, hotels, schedules) and another ones for maps, tickets, hotel cards and all kind of tickets and clips and collages made of them. I don’t have many trips planned for this year but still tempted to have new covers for 2017 as well and feel inspired after reading about how other people use their Traveler’s notebooks (for more journal inspiration check out my long-time favorite Rowdy Kittens).

The third notebook type I use is random, cheap notebooks. I buy them wherever I find suitable (bought different colors when visited Ikea last time, see in the bottom of my pile in the pic) and I use them for all kind of writing like putting my thoughts in order or sketching blog entries or planning grocery shopping or whatever I need to write down. I always do all that in a hurry so I like to do it in a separate notebook instead of messing any of my important notebooks.

I guess rituals and paying attention to details give us the feeling of living fully and in every moment. I want to have a library in our house even I otherwise want to buy and have less. I like having books around me all the time, I like to feel the spirit of books and hold them in my hands. Also, I like documenting things by hand in addition to making digital notes. I would love to have every single travel detail of my every trip during the past 10 years in one book – it would be incredibly useful – and would love to have a carefully done personal yearbook for every year to look back afterwards.

I write my notebooks almost daily but it’s always random and I’m fascinated by the idea of making systematic and clear notes about everything interesting and good I read or see on daily basis to remember everything better and to generally pay more attention. I like the thought of having a systematic list of books I’ve read (it’s only March and I’ve already forgotten a half I’ve read) and an overview of every city I’ve visited and I like the thought of writing down as many thoughts and ideas as I can. There are many of them but unless I write an entry for my blog, they come and go and there’s nothing I can look back later. This is what explorers traditionally do, they carefully write down their every adventure?

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