About the Author: Zach S. is an expedition and product/lifestyle photographer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and a graduate of The United States Military Academy Preparatory School. When he’s not doing photography, he’s writing and working towards his goal of becoming a Marine Aviator.
The pocket notebook. You’ve probably never thought of one, but I believe it’s one of the best kept secrets a man can have in his everyday carry. Part dictionary, part address book, part reference guide, you’d be amazed just how often you find yourself using it.
As an experiment (and now out of habit), I’ve been carrying a notebook in my pocket for about 6 months, and in that time I’ve filled three of them. I started with a smaller, flatter one, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, I’ve begun using the small Moleskine, as it holds far more notes and information.
Why carry a pocket notebook?
Because you’d be surprised how much useful information your brain throws out on a daily basis. Before I started carrying one, I would have been pretty comfortable saying I didn’t learn much every day, but now I find myself with at least four or five quotations from my readings, a new recipe, an idea, or some interesting fact that I now have permanently available to me.
What to put in your notebook?
Whatever you think is interesting. Not in any particular order, here’s what a quick look into my notebook would reveal to you:
- Poems (both original and copied), quotations, and philosophical musings
- Conversion tables (mostly metric to imperial)
- Personal expense ledger
- Workout tracker
- Notes for future articles
- Photography project details and client contact information and addresses
- Takeout restaurant numbers and Emergency numbers (Police, Fire, local FBI office, Poison Control, etc)
- Museum maps
As you can see, there’s an immense compendium of information there, and the subjects can vary wildly based on your profession and interests.
What type of notebook to use?
Any sort you like! The great thing about a pocket notebook is that it’s just about the cheapest and most powerful way to organize all your ideas. Small softbound notebooks can be had for as little as a dime in most office supply stores, though the most popular choices are the Field Notes brand notebooks, which are inexpensive and durable, but a little thin for my liking.
I prefer the thicker, hardbound Moleskine’s, but at typically over 10 bucks a pop, they don’t come cheap. I compromise and use a similar sized and styled generic one I got at my local discount store for about 3 bucks. If you find yourself using your notebook a lot, you can get a leather cover to help it last longer and look really great. I use a moleskine cover from Saddleback Leather, but similar ones can also be found from brands like Koch Leather, or numerous leather workers on Etsy.
What sort of pen to use?
If you keep it in your jacket or bag, any sort of pen or pencil will work, but if you’re like me and you keep you pen in your front pocket, you’ll probably want to use something a little shorter. I’m a fountain pen enthusiast and use a Kaweco Sport I bought a few years ago, but for ultimate practicality and durability, I’d probably recommend a Fisher Space Pen. Find a pen that you like, or even love, to use.
For all you tech junkies out there, you can do everything I mentioned above on your smartphone with the help of an app like Evernote, which has the added bonus of syncing with your computer. Just bear in mind that I’ve had my phone die on me many times, but I’ve never had a notebook stop working.
Overall, I think keeping a pocket notebook is a worthwhile habit to start, and with a little patience, you’ll be well rewarded.