The Scrapbook:
A Pile of "Stuff"
The Notepad
Ephemeral Free-form thoughts

A simple legal pad is sufficient. Every page must have three items: A Date, a Time, and people present if applicable. The primary use is for meeting notes, but can be any event or function worth taking notes.

     I actually use TWO notepads. A large one holding a standard letter-sized legal pad, and a smaller one holding a smaller 8" x 5" pad. The large one is for meetings, and the small one for anytime the large one is inconvenient. The large one tends to require a desk or table to write on, the small one is more suited to 'on-the-go' activities.

     The data captured consists of ephemeral, free-form notes and thoughts. Doodles, observations, questions, information, all is fair game.  Think it, scribble it. Decide later what it's worth.

     When done, copy relevant points into a Journal Notes or Daily page and index it. Snap a foto and file it in the Cyber. List that too in the Journal Index. The page may then be saved in a hanging file, 3-Ring notebook or simply discarded depending on merit.

The Note Book is a sort-of "Engineer's Notebook" covering anything from how-to instructions and favorite recipes, to detailed notes, drawings and diagrams. It is meant to be a permanent record, and archived, with every page numbered and each entry indexed in the Journal.

     Another important purpose of the Note Book is to capture IDEAS.

     Yes, the Note Book COULD be pages in the back of the Journal. I did it that way for a long time. But I really think a stand-alone Note Book works better, at least for me.

The Note Book:
Notes: Drawings: Diagrams

The *E.A.E. Journal

(*Entreprenuer, Artist, Engineer)

by the Author of The Tym Before and Securing the Network

Throughout my professional life, I have been obsessed with keeping notes. Obsessed, but seldom as effective as I might wish. I have purchased an endless collection of journals, diaries, logbooks, and organizers. Nothing ever fit my needs. I concluded the creators of the fancy organizers simply did not live in my world.

     In the end I migtated to simple composition notebooks, such as the common Mead "Wide-Ruled" bound books favored by engineers and college students. They had the single advantage of being inexpensive, and the major disadvantage of being nearly useless. I filled an endless supply of these books with my scribbles, usually throwing them away soon after they were filled because they held an indecipherable mish-mash of worthless scribbles.

     During this time I migrated through a series of "PDAs" for phone numbers, brief meeting notes and the like. The best was my Kyocera 6035 Palm OS "Smartphone" from about 2001. Of course today I use an iPhone, but like the Kyocera, very useful yet it falls short of meeting all my needs.

     In 1997 a company called Moleskine revived the tradidional leather-bound journal. Even in the digital age, even with tech-savvy millennials, it gathered a significant following. Journaling in bound volumes has become popular, and there are endless posts and blogs about it.  There are over 250,000 posts on Instagram on the topic. Properly done, entries in a bound journal will stand up in court, should you ever be so unlucky as to need that.

     The traditional leather-bound journal became suddenly cool when a gentleman named Ryder Carroll invented a format he named "The Bullet Journal." His invention is not a thing, so much as a process. You can use any notebook, even those lowly Mead books, although Ryder will happily sell you a $20 leather-bound volume he designed explicitly for his technique. It is a very nice journal and reasonably priced.

     For a brief moment I was devoutely in love with the Bullet Journal. It is the closest thing yet to something that works. But not quite. It did prompt me to spend some time thinking about my needs. I concluded that the reason I could not find something that fit my needs was that I did not understand those needs myself.

     Thinking about my needs, I concluded in addition to the primary tool, the Journal, I needed four additional functions. (1) A place to scribble immediate notes that are not intended to be saved. (2) A place to record detailed, permanent notes and missives that I want to keep around a long time, (3) A place to stuff all those scraps of paper I might otherwise throw away and (4) Someplace to keep digital data. You cannot just write everything down these days.

     I decided that although the Bullet Journal is a big piece of the solution, it falls short of covering all the needs. Yes, it can pinch-hit for an all-in-one solution, but doing so makes it inefficient. I evolved a five-part solution set with a Bullet Journal as the centerpiece.

The Journal:
Notes: Drawings: Diagrams
 
I recommend the "Bullet Journal" format, whether you buy the official book, or use the Bullet Journal format in a notebook of your chosing.

The first question: "WTF is a Bullet Journal?"

There are two answers to that. The simple one, and the fancy one.

     For a look at the fancy one, hop over to http://bulletjournal.com and check them out.  They have a nice video, will sell you the book itself, and it is reasonably priced. There are endless Youtube videos explaining how people use the Bullet Journal idea.

     The simple answer is that it is simply any ordinary journal with a tiny bit of methodology. There is no reason to buy their book. Though it is a nice book. They use some fancy terms. We can adopt those, or not, does not much matter.

     The Journal consists of five elements, plus the methodology and a few symbols, which I will explain.

 

The Elements:

(1) The Index.  This is the piece that makes it all work. Everything of importance gets an entry in the index. Allow plenty of space at the front of your journal for the index. At least four full pages, perhaps more. You're going to write a lot of "bullets" there.

 

(2) The Future Log. This is a Year-at-a-Glance Calendar that is in the front of the Journal following the index. It is intended to place bullets (I'll get to that) of things you need to remember to do later in the year.

 

(3) The Monthly. This is two pieces, a traditional Month calendar, plus a Month's task list, for each month. The monthly should take two pages, arranged as a "view" with the left being the "Month-at-a-Glance" and the right side the monthly task list.

 

(4) The Daily. Laid out much like the Monthly, the daily log is where you make notes, and comments, write "bullets" and keep a "to-Do" list. A collection of Dailies follows each monthly. You probably won't want one for each and every day, only important or busy days, and sparse days may require only a piece of a single page, allowing something else to occupy the rest of the page.

 

(5) Lists and Notes. This is a section in the back of the book. It can be anywhere, and need not all be in one place as its location is listed in the Index so you can find your lists and notes easily. This is where you keep lists of things (e.g. Book List, Movie List) or notes (e.g. favorite Recipe, etc) you will want handy (i.e. Not stashed away in another book, although some things may be elsewhere too.) 

 

     The methodology is elementary.  The key point, and hence the name, is all your items are in the form of terse "Bullets", just enough to prod the memory. Every page has a page number, and every significant item gets Indexed. Tasks get tracked in a more-or-less conventional manner. Watch some of the videos and you will get the idea. It's simple.

     The seven symbols are also easy to grasp and use.  They are 'Dot', Greater Than Symbol and Less Than Symbol, 'X' and Circle, Asterisk and Dash.  A big part of the methodology lies in the proper use of these symbols.

     When a task is first noted, it is given a 'Dot'.  This is because a Dot is easy to change into something else.  A task can do one of three things.

 

(1) It can be completed, in which case the dot becomes an 'X'.

(2) It can be postponed until tomorrow, in which case it is "Migrated" by being written in an iminient "Daily" and the dot becomes a Greater Than.

(3) It can be postponed to another month. In this case it gets entered into the Future Log, and the dot becomes a Less Than.

 

     The remaining symbols are unrelated to tasks. The Circle signifies an Event. It can be a birthday, anniversary, or any big event you want to make note of. Meetings are tasks, not events. The Asterisk is called the Signifier. It is used to call attention to an important item, task or event.

     The last symbol, the 'Dash' signifies simple notes to remember. Not directly related to the 'Notes' of Lists and Notes, but may be a pointer to where a Note of that class resides. A note can be almost anything, but does not necessarily imply a related action or task. I prefer 'Facts' instead of notes to describe these items. They should be terse, one-liners. An example might be " - Grandson and I went to See The Martian today (SB 47)" The parenthesis holds the Scrapbook page where the movie stub was taped as a "rememberance".

 

     For my own use I added another, seventh symbol. The Exclamation Point! This symbol is used to flag IDEAS.

 

     That's pretty much it!  Go watch some YouTube "Bullet Journal" videos and grab a notebook.

 

     Writing by hand is an important tool for organizing and focusing your thoughts. It forces you to slow down and think about your points. Writing them in a Journal allows you to refer back to them years later and retrieve the memories that might otherwise have been lost. Learn to do it effectively and it will change your life.

The Scrapbook is just what the name imples, a book holding scraps of paper. I characterize the scraps as Expenses, Rememberances, and memories.

     Usually items are small pieces of paper, and can be anything. Reciepts, toll tickets, movie stibs, whatever might serve to reinforce memories of an event. They are simply taped to the pages of the book, and usually a brief comment added naming the date, etc.

     There is no particular format or rationale, but key items are supposed to be indexed into the Journal. However not every item deserves its own entry. For example, when pasting in items from the Black Hat 2016 event in Vegas, i found it sufficient to enter "Black Hat 2016 SB48-57" in the Index, and then I will know where to look for any item from that event.

The Cyber-Vault:
A Place for Digital Stuff

The Cyber-Vault is a place to stuff anything digital. It can be online, in the cloud, on your phone, or a USB drive in your wallet. Perhaps not intended to house your music playlist (although it could), rather a place for electronic documents, including those Notepad images. There are two types of data stored in "The Cyber-Vault". Sensitive, and Not Sensitive.

     Sensitive data deserves extra protection. There are numerous solutions for keeping such data private, I use VeraCrypt to create an encrypted volume. Only the sensitive data goes in the encrypted volume. Some important notes are in'locked' (password protcted) documents inside the encrypted container. LibreOffice encryptes locked documents using AES Encryption.