Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Don't Fetishize Your Notebook

A notebook with a ballpiont pen, with a laptop in the background

Among the hardcore productivity crowd, the notebook seems to have become an object of obsession. I’m not talking about the notebook computer, but the paper notebook. Sheets of blank or ruled or grid or dotted paper wrapped in a cover, waiting for the caress of a pen. Waiting for the next great idea, that bit of important information, that task list.

Some folks in that crowd take their obsession to extremes. They deeply ponder whether to buy a Moleskine, an Ecosystem, or a Leuchtturm. They demand that the pages be a certain thickness or made from acid-free paper. They obsess about the perfect size, the perfect thickness, the perfect dimensions of their notebooks.

It sometimes feels like notebooks have moved from being mere tools to being objects to worship. I’ve met more than a couple of people who view their notebooks as objects that convey a certain status. They seem to believe that the so-called right notebook will drive their productivity to legendary levels. That the right notebook will send their creativity soaring.

That’s all wishful thinking.

Don’t fetishize your notebook. Notebooks aren’t magical objects. They won’t miraculously boost your productivity. They won’t increase your social standing. They won’t make you smarter or more attractive.

I admit that I can be guilty of, if not fetishizing my notebooks, then being a bit snobbish about them. My favourite brand of is Moleskine. Why? Not because they’re popular but because they’re rugged. Having said that, I’ve used a variety of other notebooks ranging from brands like Ecosystem, to giveaway notebooks from events and conferences, to the in-house brands from stationery and book chains.

And guess what? They all did their jobs in the same way. The inexpensive exercise book that you buy at a drug store or a supermarket works just as well as a more expensive Moleskine notebook.

A notebook is just paper on which you write your thoughts and ideas, your tasks and schedules. Nothing more. Treat your notebook as a tool, not as a piece of fashion or as a status symbol. To be entirely honest, no one cares about what brand or size or type of notebook you use.

The notebook isn’t what matters. It’s what you put into your notebook that counts. You can easily fill cheap notebooks with great ideas. But you can also fill high-end notebooks with junk. The quality of what you put into a notebook doesn’t depend on the notebook. It depends on you.

Remember that notebooks are disposable. I mean that in the sense of not many of us go back to our notebooks after we write on the last line of the last page. Once a notebook is full, for most of us it has served its purpose. In the end, those notebooks either just gather dust or are the fodder for recyclers.

I’ll say it again: notebook is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. Focus on how you use your notebook, and what you put into it, rather than on the notebook itself. Doing that will take you where you want to go. Your notebook will be your trusted companion on that journey.

Photo via Visual hunt

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

Did you enjoy this post or find it useful? Then please consider supporting this blog with a micropayment via PayPal. Thanks!