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April 18, 2005

The leather PDA

What with our addiction for PDAs and smart phones, the laptop and the GPS etc, you might expect that Bleeding Edge scarcely lifted a pen or pencil in self-defence. The fact is, after pretty much abandoning the Filofax to which we were addicted years ago, we've gradually started using it again.

filofax.jpg


We don't use it in quite the same way we used to, however. Although we've got a calendar in there, we never use it to make a diary entry. And we don't keep our contact list in it. The Treo 600 is far more efficient for managing appointments, to do's and contact lists.

We can type at 120 words per minute, and therefore tend to use the keyboard for recording telephone interviews in Info Select, which means we have a vast database of information. Out on the road, we use Pitman's shorthand and a reporter's notebook.

When it comes to thinking on paper, and taking personal notes, however we prefer to do it in longhand, on paper.

Not just any paper. A couple of years ago, while we were in France, browsing around stationery stores, we stumbled across a range of index cards made by Fiches Bristol. The particular ones we liked were graph paper, or quadrilles, measuring 100x150 (5"x5"). Somehow graph paper seems to stimulate the flow of ideas, and so does the texture of the paper. [If you're planning a trip to Paris, let us know, because we haven't been able to buy them anywhere but there.]

We might have taken the approach recommended at the very useful 43folders.com, which is to bind a stack of cards together with a binder clip, to produce the Hipster PDA.

We've found, however, that carrying them around like that tends to damage the edges. While that's probably OK if you're just jotting notes, if you want to keep a record of your ideas, it makes sense to protect them.

We've got a massive Filofax six-hole punch which we picked up pretty cheap years ago, when the local agents imported from the UK and found that nobody could afford to buy them. We punch holes in the cards, and keep them in the Filofax, with a lot of spares in the pocket. We use yellow, blue and white cards for different topics, and a strip of Post-It flags to navigate.

The other thing we've found useful with the Filofax are the expenses envelopes that we have to import from the UK. Fortunately, the Filofax online store is pretty efficient. Nothing else works quite so well, in our experience, for taking a note of what you've spent money on, and keeping the receipts.

But we don't use that system for journal entries. For that we've got a selection of Moleskines, in both ruled and graph paper. We bought our first Moleskine in Rome about five years ago - a beautiful yellow-bound notebook that sometimes made us far too choosy about what was worthy of recording in it. It's still mostly empty. Since then we've gone for the larger black ones, into which we generally stick a label - we've got one of those great Seiko Smart Label printers - with a piece of advice from one of our favourite contemporary novelists, Joanna Trollope, to encourage us to use it as a writer's notebook:

Train yourself to notice. Keep a journal — not a Dear Diary — of scraps of things you notice/overhear/remember/think of. Stick in photos and postcards. Scribble down descriptions and snatches of dialogue. Watch other people like a hawk.

Posted by cw at April 18, 2005 03:18 PM

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Comments

I use a hipster PDA now and to get around the damaged card edges all I did was laminate two index cards to use as covers.

Posted by: tony at April 18, 2005 05:10 PM

Charles,

Try not to confuse the metrically challenged. If you must put 100x150mm in inches the least you could do is make it rectangular.

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian at April 20, 2005 01:27 PM

You're right. Sorry about that. My mind went on holidays. IT says 5x5 on the packet. Now what could that mean.

Posted by: cw at April 20, 2005 04:09 PM

Not just any paper. A couple of years ago, while we were in France, browsing around stationery stores, we stumbled across a range of index cards made by Fiches Bristol. The particular ones we liked were graph paper, or quadrilles, measuring 100x150 (5"x5"). Somehow graph paper seems to stimulate the flow of ideas, and so does the texture of the paper. [If you're planning a trip to Paris, let us know, because we haven't been able to buy them anywhere but there.]

I have a couple of boxes of Fiches Bristol, in various sizes. I don't have a ruler with me, but my favorite size is roughly 3 x 5 (125 x 75?). The 5 x 5 refers to 5 squares per inch. I don't know why they mix metric with english measurement, but that's what the 5x5 refers to.

They are hard (if not impossible) to get here. I bought mine in a papeterie in French St. Martin. I bought three or four boxes, in white and multicolor.

Posted by: Mark Everett at January 19, 2006 07:44 AM