Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My little black book.

My name is Tom, and I am a prolific note-taker. I keep a little notebook with me wherever I go, solely for writing notes to myself. Sometimes they are reminders to do something later (I used to try to keep a specific book just for that, to keep this one "pure" but I tend to lose/forget it.) but it is largely an idea repository.

Ideas don't always conveniently materialize in class. Often, it is while I'm walking from the car to my office, or while reading a book or article. Meetings are often great inspiration for me to retreat into my mind and think about Tang Soo Do. For this reason, the little black book pops out and I can record my thoughts quickly for a later time.

I've encouraged readers to keep a training log in the past. I combine my training log with my idea log to keep them in the same book and cut down on the number of Moleskine's I'm carrying around at any given time.

How do you get into the habit? Here's a few pointers I'd like to offer:

Carry it everywhere.

This is the key to getting in the habit. How else do you take advantage of those moments when your brain actually has a great idea? Trust me, saying to yourself "I need to remember that" does not work reliably, if at all. This is why I like the notebook sized Moleskine. It easily fits into a jacket or back pocket. Sometimes, I even slip it into the front of my dobohk in the pouch created by the uniform fold and belt.

Carry a Pen, too.

Well, duh. Can't write an entry without a pen. Get a pen you like, and keep it with your notebook at all times. Besides, carrying a pen makes you look prepared and industrious, not to mention ready for self-defense.


How often do you avoid writing things down because it's "not important enough" or "you'll remember it later?" Write it down, even if it is just a snippet, so you remind yourself later. Maybe you have an incomplete thought... Who cares? The journal is for your eyes only, and no one else will judge it. If it really bothers you later, cross it out and put a note next to it like "sorry, i was drunk."

Don't be shy. As soon as class lets out, get out your notebook and write what you can. If you are at a seminar, respectfully ask the instructor if you can take notes. They may say no, especially if this is the first time anyone has ever asked. If so, tough it out and remember key points to write down during a break. I can't tell you how many gems have slipped out of my head as I go from one breakout session to another at clinics.

Look at it during downtime.

Yes, you have downtime. At lunch, waiting in line at the grocery store (sure, put your list in their too!) sitting at a red light, waiting for a meeting to start, number 2 moments, whatever. Looking at what you've already written down serves to remind you of your great ideas, and to get the juices flowing for a followup entry. And since you have your pen with you, maybe you've got enough downtime to add a few more notes as well.

Expand on it later.

Often my notes are to spur later thought, or notes for when I'm preparing to speak to a group. I may take a short entry and decide to blog on it later, add it to my research, etc. Either way, revisiting your material is a great way to connect seemingly disjointed thoughts into something more coherent for later use.

Go buy a notebook. Start using it. Thank you.
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