Do you use a notebook? Making a little change to the way I use one has made a huge difference to my working life. Let me explain.

I use notebooks of one form or another. We all have. In fact, I’ve always been a real sucker for stationery. The ARC notebooks from Staples are fantastic, but I do love a moleskin notebook and a fountain pen. Whenever I end up in the supermarket doing the family shop I can’t make it past the stationary aisle.


I’m no different to everybody else. Good ideas have a habit of popping into my head at the most inopportune moment. As I’m getting into the bath, the moment I open my eyes in the morning or sat at traffic lights. Capturing these ideas before they disappear is an issue. I’m sure at least one idea I failed to record would have made me a millionaire.

Being a bit of a geek I’ve tried lots of different note taking apps. Evernote, OneNote, and keeping things simple with the notes app on my iPhone and Mac. Up until last week, I’ve even resorting to email ideas to myself. Problem is, none of these work.

Ideas tend to start with a little nugget and flow from there. I’m best using mind mapping, flowcharts, scribbles, and doodles. While I always have my iPhone with me, but none of these apps seem good at capturing that flow. This meant the whole idea would be lost forever, along with my millions.

Good Old Dad

I took my father to the supermarket a few weeks ago. He’s 87 years old, an engineer, and has spent his life running businesses. So I was trying to explain this predicament to him.

“Why don’t you get a notebook?”, he said

“I’ve got one of those” I replied, with a tut and an eye roll.

“Where is it?”

“At home.”

“No much use there is it?. You need one that fits in your shirt pocket so it’s always with you.”

“Shall I get four coloured pens to go in the pocket with it?”

“You’re being silly now, Jonathan”, he said.

I had a sudden image of Indiana Jones in my head. If you’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Arc you’ll have his notebook. It’s a scruffy leather thing, with a pencil, held shut with an elastic band. Oh yes, I can do Indiana Jones.

I went to the stationary aisle (always a treat) and found a couple of A6 sized softback leather notebooks. I found a pen that fits inside the notebook and borrowed one of my little girl’s elastic hair bobbles to wrap it up. OK, not Indiana Jones, but it works. Nevertheless, I’ve started carrying the notebook all the time and it lives on the bedside table at night.

I’d been pondering how to change the signup process for the Delphos platform for a few weeks. I awoke on next morning with an idea there in my head, and so followed 10 minutes of muttering, flowcharts, drawings, scribbles, and tea slurping. It felt wonderful.

The idea was there on paper, ready for me to deal with later. It meant I could forget it and spend a day with the family without trying to keep the idea floating in my head.

Not Genius, But Do It Anyway.

I’ve had the notebook with me for two weeks. It’s full of all those little ideas and questions and things I need to remember and has joined my wallet, phone and keys as a part of my daily kit. While it’s not the first time anyone has thought of this. I think Richard Branson carries one, and Indiana Jones definitely does. But I can’t for the life of me why I hadn’t.

So, there it is. Get yourself to your nearest Sainsbury’s pronto and buy a couple of £2 notebooks. You’ll never lose a gem of an idea again.

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