Even though I have little scripts to let me create journal entries on my computer, and a couple to process vlogs/voice memos into text, I also use analog to capture a lot of what I think because there’s often less mental overhead than opening my computer, getting distracted and losing the thought. Also, I just write much slower using hand, which gives me more time to think about what Im writing

So, I carry around little pocket notebooks (often just one, sometimes two)

Riffing on the categories described here:

  • ”Idea catchall” (pocket notebook). This includes anything - TODOs, notes, feelings, quotes, facts, research. Periodically (every few days/once a week), I digitize anything important, or copy over to other notebooks where they belong. That might seem like a lot of wasted time, but I tend to rewrite/refine the notes as I copy over, so my catchall acts as a super-rough draft. Reviewing once at night also lets me filter unnecessary tasks that I might have thought important in the moment but no longer are. This is intentionally disorganized and not timestamped to make friction for writing notes as close to zero as possible.
  • Diary (pocket notebook): present(ish)-day time-bound emotions, feelings/aspirations/wants/fears. Anything that I want to get out of my head and onto paper. Often this can also be a vlog/voice memo instead, because I feel like I don’t want to lose a feeling/thought before I have time to write it down, so I just record myself
  • Journal Ideas (pocket notebook) - A small notebook where I write down small descriptions of memories from the past, or things that I want to write about in my larger journal. These are just ideas, not the whole memory. My memory of my childhood and in general is quite fragmented, so this is an attempt to recall more of the past.
  • Journal (large notebook): more well formatted, describing specific (recent or past) events and how I felt about things, memories/how I remember things in childhood. This is somewhat obviously not ordered, they are just written when a distinct memory surfaces.
  • Commonplace Books: for notes about factual things, quotes, facts, research that Ive done; things that exist in the world and aren’t my own thoughts - unlike the video, I tend to use my exobrain (this website), or just create a file in my ~/Documents folder. For larger ideas that I might want to think out, I might use my catchall notebook and then digitize into my exobrain later

To summarize:

  • idea catchall [small]: rough thoughts, todos, notes, quotes, feelings, etc.
  • diary [small]: present-day emotions, vlogs/voice memos
  • journal ideas [small]: random memories that surface that I may want to write about
  • journal [large]: written out memories, current-day journal entries/feelings
  • exobrain [phone/computer]: fact-related notes, research, quotes, etc


The three small notebooks I carry around with a pen, in a piece of leather with a piece of elastic: