Jotting Down Ideas in the Workplace … With Some Style

“Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?”
“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”
Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown in “Back to the Future”

While I jot down a lot of ideas with the “Notes” app on my iPhone (you can do so one-handed while walking), there are times when a note on paper is needed. Drawing still works best on paper for me, and sometimes you like to leave a note for someone. For this purpose, paper is still indispensable. Personally, I love Clairefontaine notepads — given that they are cheap, the paper is very smooth, and that I cut them down in half which allows me to easily say: “Screw it, I’ll write down this idea, even if it is really bad.” No barriers to capturing stupid ideas in scrawly handwriting that a Moleskine notebook might provide. And stupid ideas might turn good or ‘interesting’ with a little more effort.

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However, these Clairefontaine notepads are rather … uh, in a “creative individual” style. They don’t go unnoticed in a more formal environment — in a bad way. One the one hand, who cares as long as you capture the ideas. But on the other — it is unaesthetic in such a setting, and in bad taste. It is also distracting, which might lead to missed ideas. And there’s the “choosing which battles to fight” aspect.

So I was looking for something to use that is more unobtrusive in formal settings. Moleskine (-like) notebooks might be the logical choice, but like written, that would place barriers on capturing I don’t want. However, Moleskine might actually be a valid choice — if it is already “spoiled” (to remove the psychological barriers), yet still looks nice on the outside. Taking inspiration from Moleskine iPad covers, I combined a Moleskine notebook with the cheapest but most useful type of paper I could think of: Post-Its.

It’s a prototype, but the notebook still looks like a normal Moleskine notebook:

moleskine_cover.jpg

However, once you open it, the pages are glued together and there’s a Post-It shaped hole cut into the pages:

moleskine_open.jpg

I thought about gluing half of the pages together first and cut holes in each of these halves. Opened, you would have Post-It’s left and right. However, I am not sure that it would have worked. Using this one hole seems to be more stable and more usable.

I used Magic Chart foil to protect the pages from heavy use. Unfortunately, I was sloppy in gluing the foil to the pages — the crinkles look atrocious. And thinking about it, using a foil that sticks to the wall due to static charge is a bad idea. It draws dust and the like. Still, it’s a prototype. The nice thing is that you can refill the Post-Its easily, so you always have enough paper. The notebook isn’t suddenly full. Furthermore, you can easily remove Post-Its. That’s why the hole is a bit larger than the Post-It’s, to allow for easy removal.

moleskine_taking_paper.jpg

The only thing I still need to do is to put some double-faced adhesive tape below the Post-It paper block. The Post-It adhesive is not strong enough to keep the whole Post-It block in the notebook. Unless attached more firmly to the foil, it might fall out.

The folder in the back of the Moleskine notebook is still there, e.g., for Post-It notes you want to keep.

moleskine_back.jpg

So far, this gutted and refilled notebook works fine and it looks nice (save for the crinkles). But I’m not sure that it’s that unobtrusive, though. 🙂

 

Update 2014-05-25: Using double-faced adhesive tape worked like a charm. The post-it block now stays in place, even when I open the notebook and turn it upside down.

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