Lists, notebooks, and remembering ideas

I just found this post by entrepreneur Richard Branson about using notebooks and lists to remember ideas, and it got me thinking about how well that works for me.

I used to have a much better memory than I do now. Sometimes I attribute the change to “middle-age brain” (sigh!). But when I think of how much more information resides in my head now (22 years worth of interviews and stories from my work as a reporter, for one thing), it makes sense that memory retrieval sometimes takes longer.

In August, I blogged about my little orange notebook, which has kept me on track since I was downsized last June. It’s filled with work-related ideas and thoughts that inspire me.

I like having a tangible notebook. Mine has a recycled leather cover and is small enough to slip into my purse, but large and colourful enough that it’s hard to misplace. I don’t see it as a replacement for my iPhone lists; it serves a different purpose. I use it at home all the time.

My phone is useful – and valued – for different reasons. It’s lightweight, user-friendly, and has several important ongoing lists – most importantly, my grocery list and my to-do list. Not to mention my calendar.

I still keep a paper calendar but, increasingly, I rely on the digital version. I’ve gotten used to entering information on my phone’s calendar, a task at which I’ve become more efficient. I can also program reminders for events – a feature that doesn’t exist on my paper calendar.

But my paper calendars also serve as notebooks, in a way. When I look back at old calendars, it’s easier to glean information from the paper versions. In addition to the what-happened-when entries, there are little notes-to-self that just aren’t the same when I enter them in my phone.

I wouldn’t give up my electronic lists, but I’m not phasing out paper either.