The Value of Taking Notes…

A brief digression from best practices of others for a moment. This past Sunday Pamela Paul had a New York Times Style cover piece on the death or new birth of the paper calendar and the filo fax. Then this past week I heard a graduate student complain that the wireless signal on campus at Columbia was too weak and he couldn’t pull up adequate notes from his Ipad in class. Just a few thoughts.

1- Paper and pen and pad still beats storing everything online. Maybe its a bit old school, but I have at least 10-15 legal pads and several notebooks stored away in a drawer with years of notes, lists, and phone numbers from meetings, encounters and random thoughts. I know where they are, they are easily labeled, and I can go through not just to find old info but also to jog the memory from a particular newsworthy event or meeting. This past week I actually found the crisis plan written up when the USTA had to move the date of Davis Cup post-9/11 and how we dealt with it. Ten years ago the notes still work. Time consuming yes, but always worthwhile. Now I’m not saying I’m writing a memoir…but there is some comfort in seeing notes in my own style and handwriting, vs. the banality of typing away.

2- The backup is needed, and the backup is in the digital space. My schedule, key notes and phone numbers reside online correct, in the cloud somewhere over New Jersey. however I’m not that much of a trusting sole, so when the uber virus hits and wipes out my records and phone numbers…I have the old backup as well. Both fit into a world where memory is short and notes are needed, especially for a sole proprietor.

3- Backup the backup. We are all very busy true. But saving those files on a flash drive once a month and then storing the secure files in a safe place will save a lot of headaches. As I write this there is a slight crack in my laptop, now covered with electric tape, which im sure is the beginning of the end. Making sure all is saved somewhere will be a huge help for when the screen goes black.

Now make no mistake, I thrive in the immediacy of the digital world. However it is still great to see writers or colleagues in a meeting with a small handheld notebook, a legal pad and even a tape recorder giving a story or a meeting his or her own style. Maybe it is still that way in our tablet generation, but relying just on technology is still not the greatest as a stand-alone option. We need personal touch, personal style in addition to personal opinions.