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everyday carry

  • Recommended: Lifehacker's Notebook Guide

    Here's a bit of pen-and-paper reading that deserves special mention.

    Trent Hamm has written a piece at Lifehacker on using a pocket notebook to simplify your life and increase your productivity, both personally and professionally.

    It's a couple of months old, but still an excellent guide, very thorough and methodical in its approach to making a notebook part of your everyday carry.

    He lists the benefits of carrying a notebook – never losing a name or phone number, keeping track of tasks, capturing ideas as you have them – as well as recommendations for how to organize your notes.

    I love some of the techniques he describes, such as using a dot or dash in front of a thought or piece of information to separate it from the ones before and after. Also, using double lines to mark where he finished "processing" his notebook the last time.

    Hamm also gets into the gear itself, recommending Field Notes notebooks and the Uniball Signo 207 Ultra Micro.

    That's where I go a different way.

    I've written before about my fondness for reporter's notebooks, and I haven't changed my mind.

    These notebooks are made specifically for people who take a lot of notes while on the move. They flip open, fit right into the palm of your hand, and have stiff cardboard backs to serve as a writing surface. And they're just the right size to fit into a pocket.

    They also tend to be cheaper than Field Notes notebooks and have more pages.

    Pens are just a matter of preference. But I'd recommended against carrying a micro point retractable pen in your pocket. They really sting when they poke you, and they will inevitably poke.

    But please, do go over and give Hamm's article a look. It's one of my favorite pen-and-paper reads so far this year.

  • Leather Everyday-Carry Pouch For Pens

    Larry at The Gadgeteer recently shared a photo of his everyday-carry set, and I was particularly intrigued by one piece that seems perfect for pen people.

    The Pocket Carry System from Dragonthorn Leatherworks is a custom-made pouch designed to keep all your pocket items in one compact carrier.

    Example of Pocket Carry System by Dragonthorn LeatherworksThey are made from leather by Dave Hauser to individual specifications. According to his webpage, variations can use vegi-tanned leather, contrast stitching and calf-skin lining, among other things.
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  • GQ Says Every Man Should Have A Good Pen...

    ...and not just any pen, but a fountain pen.

    Got a GQ guy on your Secret Santa list this year? Well, according to the bible of style, one of the five essential things that no man should be without is a quality fountain pen.

    And interestingly enough, quality does not necessarily mean pricey, GQ says.

    The mag recommends both the Lamy Safari and the Kaweco Class Sport, two pens that are fairly inexpensive, yet known for performance and reliability.

    And why should every man have a good pen?

    Because, says writer David Coggins, "it's about the mark you make in the world when you put pen to paper, and that mark is something worth doing well."

  • Reporter's Notebooks Are Perfect For Everyday Carry

    So, I read this excellent piece over at Medium about keeping a notebook for memory and inspiration, and I couldn't agree more with the notion of carrying a notebook with you everywhere you go.

    Last year, I touched on why taking notes by hand still beats doing it digitally. It's just a better process for most of us, especially if you are in the least bit creative. And, as Stephanie at Rhodia Drive brought up recently, the time to commit a thought to paper is in the instant in which you have it.

    Thus, the need for a notebook ever to hand.

    And the best notebooks for carrying around when you're away from the comforts of desk and chair? Plain old reporter's notebooks. Can't recommend 'em highly enough.

    My personal process is this: I have reporter's notebooks everywhere. Stacked around my apartment, in my car, and in my pockets. Whenever I get a story idea, an address, a phone number, a factoid, a grocery need, it goes in whatever notebook I'm carrying that day.

    When I get home, I dump the notebook. Story ideas and factoids go into Microsoft OneNote, phone numbers into my contacts file, things to do into my Google to-do list, and personal reflections, etc. go into a journal. When I get to the last page of a notebook, it goes on a stack and I start on the next one.

    Once every few years, I go through those stacks to make sure all the important pieces have been mined. Then the notebooks go in the trash. Obviously, I don't place a lot of long-term value on my everyday carry notebooks.

    Now I know there are all sorts of highly recommended notebooks on the market. Rhodia, Moleskine, Field Notes, and so on. I just don't think of them as everyday carry notebooks as much as for journaling, for storing the thoughts and ideas that you want to preserve for a lifetime.

    Reporter's notebooks, on the other hand, are just right for using and tossing.

    First, these things are cheap, maybe a couple of bucks apiece. There's no need to spend more than that on something you are going to use for what amounts to temporary data collection.

    And second, they are designed perfectly for exactly one thing: Holding in one hand and writing with the other while you're standing, sitting or moving.

    Reporter's notebooks are simply constructed. They consist of a wire coil, two pieces of cardboard and lined writing paper. Just wide enough to fit into the palm of one hand while in use, and into a back or side pocket when not.

    (Wire side up when in the back pocket. Otherwise, you sit on it, it smashes and the pages won't flip anymore.)

    The narrow size helps emphasize short, fast writing, mostly fragments and phrases, although, in a pinch, I've composed entire news articles in them.

    The paper's not high quality, but it doesn't need to be. It will take some abuse, including getting wet. The pages are perforated so you can rip one out to give to someone else, or if you need to remove a damaged page.

    The wire binders are usually wide enough that you can slide a pen into them. And most of them have space on the covers for you to write dates and other details to help you keep your notes sorted.

    Quality varies.

    Tops brand tends to be more common, and less expensive, but their back cardboard piece is too flexible for me. Portage makes a reporter's notebook with much stiffer front and back covers, providing a more stable writing surface when the book is flipped open. Still, if you like to fold your notebooks, Tops and Ampad are best for that.

    They also have some other helpful uses...smacking bugs that get too close, shielding your head from rain, doubling as a coaster (cover closed, of course).

    The bottom line is, they've all served me well for 15+ years, and if you're looking to make a change, I'd definitely suggest trying out some reporter's notebooks.



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