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How do you retrieve info from old notebooks/journals/etc?

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by Moshe ben David, Jul 5, 2016.

  1. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    I carry a pocket notebook. And I have a couple of journals in progress on a semi-regular basis. These are for personal use. Professionally when I have an active client I'll dedicate a small journal to that client.

    The pocket notebook is just for note jotting. The personal journals are just for stream of consciousness writing. The client journals are sort of self explanatory.

    I've never quite figured out effective means for retrieving information from general journals. I remember LONG ago, having a book that was written for users of Day Timers planners; the author had devised a very elaborate method using index cards for literally indexing subjects by date of occurrence. I never used it -- seemed like a lot of work. Of course these days the index could be on a computer, but still would be a lot of work, just simpler to search.

    For those who journal (regardless of size of notebook) and save all your notebooks/journals, etc. Have you come up with a system to facilitate retrieving information? Would you share it with us? Some curious minds at least would like to know!

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
  2. Maze

    Maze Loaded Pockets

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    I've started using an index in all my journals. Check out the bullet journaling tutorials. Essentially, when something feels important, it gets a line and page number in the index. That way I can scan through each book quickly to find what I'm looking for.
     
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  3. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    I can see how that works. The book I referred to in my post advocated setting up a 'meta-index' which would span years; so that if the user wanted to see the entries without searching through journals for each year he'd first go to the meta-index, which would give him (in theory) the exact date... this was for someone using the old Day-Timer system to even record brief notes of a meeting, or indicating when a special event or something took place. I never did it -- just more work than I was willing to do.

    Moshe ben David
     
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  4. thatotherguy

    thatotherguy EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Generally speaking, my pocket notebook isn't too hard to navigate- it's nice and small, and most of the stuff I put in it is short-term anyway. I don't generally go back and look in my journals. I've gotten out of the habit of writing a daily entry, but when I was writing a lot, I would date the entry at its start. I never really used my journals for reference though (that's what my agenda and my pocket notebook are for). It was always more for catharsis for me. Write it down and let it be gone from your mind so you have more space for more current thoughts and such :)
     
  5. flatline

    flatline Loaded Pockets

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    I stop writing about 4 pages from the end of a journal. I then page through the journal, note anything that might be of interest later, and then flip the journal over and create a table of contents.

    Some journals I create the table of contents as I go, but not always.

    --flatline
     
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  6. tbzbbt

    tbzbbt Loaded Pockets

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    Great idea. I have this problem a lot at work as I plough through many spiral notebooks to recall a detail from a meeting six months ago...

    tbzbbt
     
  7. flatline

    flatline Loaded Pockets

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    I also copy any math or algorithms from my daily journals into a dedicated journal specifically for that kind of material. That's one of the few journals that I keep an accurate table of contents in as I add stuff to it.

    Thanks to that journal, things often come up at work that I've already got solutions for. In fact, last week a problem came up in a client meeting that I had a solution for from two years ago. It was very satisfying.

    I don't have any prescience about such things, it's just that when I ponder data, one of the things I like to do is wonder what useful things can be done with that data. It's pure coincidence that years later a customer might want the exact same thing (or something close enough that my solution can be adapted to fit the need).

    --flatline
     
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  8. Andrew C

    Andrew C Empty Pockets

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    I've tried making contents pages, indexes, highlighting. All work to some extent, but I've never been completely happy with any of them (partly, it must be said, because I never stick with them). My solution - and I use my notebooks for my own stuff, not work - is to carry a sheet from a legal pad for quick notes, things to look up, books/films/bands to check out, etc, and keep my notebook for only important stuff (jokes, dialogue, names, etc). That way, the notebook lasts longer (I like getting my money's worth) and the whole thing is just good stuff to be typed up. The page from the legal pad is folded into sixths, acts as a bookmark in the notebook, and is replaced when full.
     
  9. WyOkBuckskin

    WyOkBuckskin Loaded Pockets

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    I date each entry. Then I go back to when I think it was and look a month either way. Usually that does the job.
     
  10. DCBman

    DCBman Loaded Pockets

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    I'm like Andrew C, I seem to have constantly changed methods and themes and consistency. I could be better at all. I do try, it just seems life gets in the way sometimes and I don't wind up doing things the same way. I guess it doesn't help that I'm a pen, pencil and notebook addict, likely with more notebooks and pens/pencils than I will be able to use for 20 years (but hey, I like them).

    I can say that I'm honestly trying to find a system which works best for me. So far the best system I seem to be most consistent with is writing in-the-moment notes down on whatever I have, and then transferring them to various notebooks depending on subject (work / personal). I started with Field Notes, but I think 3x5 notecards seem to work as well if not better. I do go back and scan notebooks from time to tome, so I like the idea of going back and adding some subject references on the last few pages. I am pretty fastidious about numbering and dating all entries so being able to locate them from an index at the back should be fairly straight forward.
     
  11. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    To all and sundry who use indices in the back of your journals/notebooks. Seems to me the issue is what happens once a notebook is filled? You wouldn't know which notebook's index to check. This is the issue that the author of the book that focused on the old Day Timer planners was focused on.

    In that author's approach, he had created a master index (I believe using index cards in appropriate file boxes). The index was set up by subject, alphabetically; on a regular basis he'd review the Day Timer he was currently using daily and add notations to the appropriate index cards to indicate the date(s) that had events, notes, etc.,that were relevant.

    Going forward, if he wished to retrieve information on the subject/event/ whatever, he knew where to look simply by finding the volume for the year/month/day. I haven't used the approach mostly out of pure laziness but it still seems to be the most effective approach for paper based journaling that I know of.

    For anyone interested, the book is Time Power by Charles R. Hobbs, published 1987 by Harper & Row.

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
  12. Dutchie_27

    Dutchie_27 Empty Pockets

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    My pocketnotebook is small, and easy to navigate through, but in my "big boys notebook" I use the index pages at the back, if they're not there I magically transform the last few pages to be index-pages.
    Thats great for "short-term" (I use about 4 big notebooks a year and about 2 pocket books, for most notes my phone is sufficient)

    I know some of you out there don't like to rely on technology. But I digitalize all my notes, take a picture of them throw them in evernote name them "Hand Notes yyyy-mm-dd" and add tags on the subject or other info i think i might search for in future.
    If the subject is really of importance I give it it's own name and file it accordingly.
    (NO I don't make anything of the company stated above, it just works for me) You can also use microsoft one note or try making your own filing system, but the latter sounds like a hell of a job.
     
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