Working tools 7 – Notebooks

Mike Hurley and Federico Viticci, two of my favourite podcasters, are fans of the “multi-pad lifestyle”. I believe the phrase may have been coined on Cortex, a show that Mike does with CGP Grey, but don’t quote me on that.

I live the multi-pad lifestyle too. They, of course, are talking about iPads. I’m talking about pads. Paper ones. You know, like notebooks. I use a lot of notebooks.

Notebooks
A small selection

Current Setup

Let me give you an insight.

1. I carry a pocket notebook and a writing instrument everywhere. When I wake, it is beside my bed. Then, it lives in my pocket or by my side all day. I use it to record anything and everything. An observation, a thought, an aide-memoire.

2. Bullet Journal is my daily driver. A free-format planner if you like. I track things in here and it serves as my task list and time-blocker.

3. Scratch pad or book. Sitting at my desk, I often think things out on paper. Or doodle. If I do this in the Bullet Journal, I would burn through them.

4. Novel Kit. I use medium/A5 size cahiers. These often come in three packs and I use a pack per novel. One is for plot, one is for characters and one is for research.

5. Learning. A medium or large book that lives in my office. I passionately believe in the importance of learning. Whether that be how to use an app, edit a photo or edit a website, I love to learn. I have one book for media skills, one for corporate compliance stuff and one for Greek language.

6. Procedures. Not the most exciting, but I have discovered that I have an enormous capacity to forget things. This leads to a loop of discovery, implementation, amnesia, which whilst fun, is not terribly efficient. I have started writing these up, and they exist in notebooks and digitally. I imagine that the more team-oriented ones will live in the digital world, whereas my own, – say, photography workflow, will live in a book.

7. Standard Memorandum. Here I record a single thought every day.

You can see why I bought a notebook company.

Benefits

Part of this extensive use is, I concede, a vehicle to allow me to use lovely stationery, but it does serve other purposes too.

I need to make space in my head. Getting things down on paper, allows me to forget them. Once one trusts the system, then having written something down, I can forget it and come back to it at a time that suits me. This is a key element of the Get Things Done methodology and many other productivity frameworks.

I find that taking notes helps me maintain attention. If I don’t, I am more than capable of completely blanking a fifteen minute video.

Reference: Not only can I refer back to notebooks as reminders, I can get a glimpse of what I was doing and feeling at specific times.

Notebooks are important to my workflow. It helps that I love them too.

The Wrong Kind of Clouds – A Review

Clouds

Synopsis

In Amanda Fleet’s debut thriller, The Wrong Kind of Clouds, Patrick Forrester is in trouble. Deep trouble. Someone wants him dead. In fact, lots of people want him dead, but one of them has taken him hostage. As he’s being bundled away, he manages to call his ex-lover, Summer Morris, and begs her for help…

Summer Morris, an award-winning photographer with synaesthesia, hasn’t spoken to Patrick for months. With good reason. In fact, she would have been happy never to hear from him again. But, he begged her for help, so she’s trying to help. Along with an off-duty police officer, Detective Sergeant LB Stewart, she gets swept into Patrick’s world of lies and deceit, in a desperate race against time to find him alive.

Trying to unpick the knot of Patrick’s life takes them from an affair that could help bring down a government, to the dust and heat of Malawi, and a whole heap of trouble in between. If only they knew who wanted him dead, they might find him alive. The trouble is, almost everyone wants Patrick dead.

Disclosure

Amanda is my writing buddy. We met through a twitter chat. (#writingchat – Every Wednesday night at 20.00 UK time.) Mostly, Amanda sends me really helpful links and does her level best to get me actually doing something, and I send her internet links of cats doing funny things. So, yes, I may be slightly biased. However, that said, I am not known for my tact or diplomacy.

Review

The Wrong Kind of Clouds is a crime novel that rattles along at a great pace. Despite trying to put it down, I read it in a day, which is pretty much the greatest compliment that I can pay a thriller.

The characters have depth and are interesting – in fact, I hope to hear more of Summer and LB in the future.

The Police Detective became my new hero when he said,
“Yes. I really hate bad cooking. I would rather go hungry than eat something out of a packet.”

How can you not like a half-French detective, living in Edinburgh?

It’s a cracking book that I enjoyed from start to finish, never quite sure how of how it would finish. Buy it from troubadour.co.uk as a paperback or if you prefer ebooks, then it’s available towards the end of the month.

Grab yourself a copy. You won’t regret it.

And remember, you heard it here first.

Books!

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The image is pinched from the Goodreads website.

If you have an interest in books, Goodreads is a good place to go and find out what is going on.

As the year turned, the site sent me an automated mail. It was asking me how many books I was going to read this year. Not something that I have ever thought about before.

“50” I typed confidently.

“50?” People were incredulous.

“Are you counting menus?”

“You are supposed to read every word, you know.”

A witty lot my Facebook friends.

I suspect that I will comfortably get through a hundred in a year. Once I get into a book, I can finish it in a sitting or two. Offer me the TV or a book and I’ll take the book every time.

Predominantly I read on my Kindle. I had resisted this device, absolutely convinced of my love for the physical manifestation of a book. I still do buy the odd book. Non-fiction especially. The Kindle however is a marvel. On holiday I can have thirty novels, all in my back pocket. Should I run out, I can find some wifi and buy thirty more. Its easy, convenient and cheaper. I am a convert.

Reading is a double-edged sword for me. I enjoy reading ‘as a writer’, where I am mindful of the craft that the author has put into the words.

However, I also get intimidated. When I find myself at the end of a novel, taken there on a page-turning rush, I doubt whether I might ever enthuse a reader in quite the same way.

Now, got to rush, time for a couple of chapters before lunch.