Note taking

I love writing on paper. In fact, I am a bit of a stationary snob. My favourite paper is Clairefontaine Triopmhe and my favourite notebooks are the A5 Leuchtturm1917s. And, up until very recently, I kept a physical notebook which contained pretty much all my personal and work life. I carried it everywhere with me and it had a detailed indexing system so that I knew were everything was and could find it quickly. My notebook contained notes from meetings, plans, to do lists, ideas for new projects, progress records for my students, important credentials, and many other things. My paper setup worked well for many years and I filled up several notebooks.

However, more recently, my indexing system began to struggle — not necessarily with the amount of information — but rather with the variety of information. The life of an academic is varied in the extreme and the amount of logistical information we need to keep track of is, quite frankly, obscene. Records of meetings with PhD students, notes from meetings with undergraduate and graduate students, meetings with colleagues about research projects, meetings with collaborators about grant proposals, meetings with colleagues about teaching strategy, notes about actual teaching, notes about students in difficulty, notes about Departmental/Faculty/School/ University meetings, various deadlines and upcoming funding calls, progressing planning and monitoring with external partners, project reports for students, the list is infinite (I hope that it is at least countably infinite). Add to this the information necessary to keep a family of four running — my daughters take part in an inordinate number of activities — and it is no wonder that my humble paper system began to struggle.

So, not without a little regret, I recently switched over to a digital note taking app. I had already mostly migrated to an app for my to do list several months ago. I do miss the physicality of making notes in a paper notebook. I also feel that taking notes on a laptop or tablet during a meeting makes me less engaged in the meeting itself, but that may just be because I am more comfortable taking notes on paper. We will see how it goes.

And that is my 20 minutes up. Day two of one hundred.

This post is part of my #100Days writing challenge, in which I have challenged myself to write for 10-20 minutes for 100 consecutive days.

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