Earlier this week, I received the first delivery of my second year subscription to Field Notes notebooks. My subscription to The List gets me one of these deliveries each quarter, and I always look forward to it.
Since June 2015, I have been using Field Notes notebooks to serve as a supplement to my short-term memory, and they have proven far more useful to me than any digital substitute that I have tried. I have not been without a Field Notes notebook in my pocket since. I don’t run through them as quickly as some people might. I have filled nearly 7 of the 48-page notebooks since I started using them. That means, that over the last 20 months, I have built up something of a collection of Field Notes notebooks. It makes choosing the next one to use fun.
The notebooks have made a real difference for me. Instead of trying to remember all kinds of things (and for the most part, failing) I have learned to make it a habit of writing them down. If I forget, I’ve got my notebook—always in my shirt pocket, or jeans pocket—to remind me. Most of these are ephemeral things: what to put in the kids lunches tomorrow; the name of the conference room I am going to for my next meeting; a list of things to pick up at the store. Sometimes, I’ll jot down funny things the kids do or say.
How I record information in the notebooks has changed over time. I used to just jot things down, and separate things by drawing a line across the page where the subject or topic changes. Now, I go one step further, adding a date below the line for each new day. That way I have some reference back to the day on which I jotted something down.
I keep all the old notebooks, not because they are immediately useful, but because, like a diary, they serve to show what I was thinking at a particular time. I have one notebook reserved as an index for all the others. I just record the start and end dates and the number I’ve taped on the pack of a particular notebook.
I love starting a fresh new notebook, and watching it become used and worn over time. Among my favorite that I have received across my 5 quarterly shipments to-date is the Lunacy edition. The design is clever. I may even use one of these as my next notebook.
The notebook peeking out of my pocket at this moment is a yellow, “Country Fair” edition for Virginia. Another week or two and I’ll be done with this one and move onto another one.
The most recent edition, which arrived just a few days ago, is the Field Notes “Utility” edition. This one comes in two page styles, either engineering graph, or ledger. The pages are thick, and there is a cool fold-out ruler for measuring things at the pack of the notebook
My biggest problem with Field Notes notebooks is deciding which one to use next. Of the ones that I have used so far, my favorite is probably the “Shenandoah” edition.