A visual hack for organizing your notes

I am always advocating for keeping and carrying only one notebook for all projects. Maintaining a single notebook does have its own problems and so I watch for interesting solutions to them. One problem is how to quickly find project specific notes? This solution is a simple means to visually organize the notebook's content.

From Japan, a Brilliant Notebook Hack for Organizing Your Notes: A simple trick to easily index and find the information you need

I am reminded that it is time to revisit my Keeping Your Academic Shit Together document.


Matt Caron said...

Gaaaah. I can't imagine having everything in one notebook like that.

That said, nowadays I just email myself, then batch process all the emails into their respective organizational systems at some later date.

A notebook as a running TODO list to jot things works, because it's quick and ephemeral.. but anything else ends up with a project specific notebook (one for beer, one for reloading, one for ideas for wargaming rules, etc.).

I commented on your Academic Shit document. I think it is heavily colored by the way your mind works, which is apparently very much not the way mine does. I hope my comments will be of value to readers whose minds work differently than yours.


Andrew Gilmartin said...

> but anything else ends up with a project specific notebook

I agree. What I find, for kids in school, is that ALL their notebooks and other crap gets carried with them all the time. This is, quite literally, too much burden to bear. A good student will take the notes from the one-notebook and move them over to subject specific online or offline notebook. An addition to the one-notebook advocacy I made for my kids is that they use a clean right-hand page at the start of each class. In this way, they can tear out the page and place it in the subject notebook after some weeks. Worked for one kid; the other kid prefers to deform his spine.

Andrew Gilmartin said...

Thanks for the comments on the Academic Shit document. Yes, we clearly think differently. When the boys are older and you write your own Academic Shit document send me a link so I can comment on it.

Matt Caron said...

Oh, yeah, you can't carry everything all together. Hence why I went to 1 subject notebooks and kitting everything together.

I also think that the differences in how we think means that I wouldn't write an academic shit document. I never presume that what I did works for anyone else because no one else thinks like I do, so documenting it is a waste of time.

Andrew Gilmartin said...

> so documenting it is a waste of time

Since 15 year olds can't see past the end of the hour some recommendation of structure and process is useful. If only to be rejected. I get rejected a lot.

Matt Caron said...

I guess I have a couple of reactions to this.

1. At fifteen, I knew what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to go to school for. I didn't know what I wanted to specialize in (that took 10 years of bouncing around industry), or where I wanted to go to school (that took comparing the various offers from the various schools), but I had a direction. I am also told that this is atypical.

2. If my kids were to come to me and as for help or insight, I would provide it, but otherwise I'm not going to force that upon them because, if they're not receptive to it, they will just ignore it. I mean, you say that you get rejected a lot - how can you not say that this is a waste of time? If you write a bunch of stuff that they don't read because they feel that it's either unimportant or they already have a process that's working for them, that strikes me as the very definition of a waste of time.

Andrew Gilmartin said...

I do see your point. I was a lost soul at 15.

I find the process of writing necessary to understand a problem or a situation. I think clearer when writing and can speak clearer after writing. I struggled with writing my whole academic life. It wasn't until after college that I read Thinking on Paper and I finally found out that there were two types of writing: Writing to Understand and Writing to Communicate. It seems so obvious now. So I write to understand and, sometimes, have the presumption that what I write to understand will be useful to someone else.

Matt Caron said...

Ah, that makes sense.

I find, for me, things fall into two categories - those things that need design and those that need creativity or understanding.

The former is merely a mechanical exercise. Do the design, as appropriate. Write down the spec, the interface, do the mechanical drawing, the CAD design, whatever. Note problems at they emerge, but you don't necessarily need to fix them right away. Creativity is required to solve specific challenges which may arise as the result of doing the design, but that is a different part of the design.

The latter two are basically the same (at least in my head) and cannot be forced. I find that focusing on the problem does not help. I literally need to go do something, anything else - sleep on it, engage in some hobby, read a book, mow the lawn, etc. Eventually, a eureka moment will come, and you run inside the house like a crazy person to write it down.

If writing it down facilitates understanding on your part, then I'm somewhat jealous - I find that such approaches do not help me actually make cognitive leaps. Once I have something, they help me organize a series of jumbled concepts, but they do not facilitate the "spark".