How I use a Pocket Notebook.

by Stuart Lennon

Regular readers will have suffered through several posts on my battles with planning, here or here.

Almost none of my planning is actually done in a pocket notebook.

I use the smaller format books as an extension of my larger ones. Rather than a rigid format, my pocket books are very free-form. On one page there might be a task list and on the next a draft for a blog post. Sometimes, there might be a series of random doodles, or a record of an unexpected thought.

I did, for a while, experiment with a ‘multiple-pocket-notebook’ system, with different books fulfilling different functions. I even had a leather cover in which I could carry them. (We sell beautiful covers here)

The major drawback was the obvious one. I don't habitually carry a handbag. Where one pocket notebook is, well pocket sized, four are not. I realised that what I value most in a pocket notebook is its practicality and portability. A good notebook sits happily in my back pocket, doesn't complain about being sat on and is happy with the rough and tumble of daily life.

Fortunately, there is a plethora of notebook brands that fit the bill and I get to rotate my 'Every Day Carry' (a perk of the job😁).

For a pocket notebook to serve as an every-day-carry, it needs to be teamed with an every-day-carry pen, or every-day-pencil.

Initially, I carried a fisher space pen, as the perfect work-anytime companion to my utilitarian notebook. And, sometimes, I still do. The space pen was famously designed for NASA, and it works in any circumstances that one might reasonably come across; upside down, in the wet etc.

So, when I set off on my annual hike, where weight considerations are paramount and maintenance-free reliability essential, I will take a space pen.

However, that’s not the only option. I love my fountain pens, so I was keen to explore the world of pocket fountain pens. This took me to Kaweco and I have several in my collection.

This German company manufactures several of my favourite pens. I have a copper Lilliput, a fire-blue Lilliput and several metal AL Sports. My first, the iconic brass AL Sport, has been run over twice by a car, with no ill-effects.

My preference with a fountain pen is for a broad nib, or a stub. In general, this makes for a large, wet script, which can be a challenge for a pocket notebook, both in terms of size and paper quality. There are books that can handle this, but in fairness, there are some that struggle.

This has led me to explore other kinds of Every Day Carry (EDC) writing instruments. Schon DSGN pens are, the offspring of the Kaweco AL and the Fisher Space pen. A rollerball, in a heavyweight, indestructible, metal pen. They’re awesome, and can be used for self defence if necessary.

My friend TJ has also led me into the world of graphite. Most of my blog posts are drafted in a pencil. In terms of EDC, a good old fashioned pencil is a risk; a new one is a bit long and brittle to live full time in a jeans pocket. Fortunately, there are lots of mechanical pencils, or graphite holders out there, that are pocket-sized. Kaweco makes some great ones and my current favourite is a Koh-I-Noor, from the Czech Republic.

I chop and change my planning and task-management systems, but my pocket notebooks remain constant. Largely because there is no real system to them.

I tell you what though. I'm lost without one.

How do you use yours?