2 Annotated Pages in My Field Notes Notebook

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I’ve been using notebooks more and more. I especially like using my Field Notes notebook. I carry one around with me everywhere. I use the notebook for jotting down things I need to remember, but ultimate can discard. This differs from how I use my Evernote Moleskine notebook. The notes there are things I will refer to again and again.

The best way to explain how I use my Field Notes notebooks is to show you. So below is a snapshot of two very typical pages in my current Field Notes notebook. Each entry has a number, and the number corresponds to the numbers below.

Annotated Field Notes
Click to enlarge

1. A blog posts ideas. If I decide to write the post, I’ll cross it out after it is written (see #8 below).

2. A story idea. In this case, the idea is really something that would fit within another story idea.

3. Things I want to do. Here, the note refers to a spreadsheet I want to create that tracks the number of requests I get to write something vs. the number that actually pay for writing. I thought it would be an interesting metric to track in 2016.

4. When listening to audiobooks, I’ll jot down notes that strike me as interesting. In this case, I was listening to Carl Reiner’s I Remember Me, and was struck by his mention of Allaben Acres, because I knew that to be the place that Isaac Asimov and his first wife, Gertrude, spent their honeymoon—at around the same time that Reiner was there.

5. Another blog post idea.

6. An observation I made while eating lunch at an IHOP near Starke, Florida. All of the waitresses in the restaurant would, when asking the cook a question, refer to him as “Sir.” I thought it was unusual, and might be something I could use in a story.

7. Something I read in Carl Reiner’s I Just Remembered. It was a translation of a German quote, and I wanted to look it up. I did look it up, but didn’t have much success finding the original quote.

8. Another blog post idea. I crossed it out after I wrote it.

9. I always write down the name of our server at restaurants. Otherwise, I won’t remember it.

10. After all of the Carl Reiner reading, I found out that he and Mel Brooks had done an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The note reminded me to watch it.

11. I was going over to Cafe Rio to get dinner for the family, so I jotted down everyone’s order.

12. I had quite a few things I wanted to get done on Sunday, so I made a list. I managed to get all of them done, including changing the tire myself.

13. The Little Miss fell asleep watching a movie. I knew she’d want to start the movie from where she left off, so I jotted down the time of the movie when I noticed her asleep, so I’d know where to restart it when she woke up.

14. I saw an ad for something called “Wipe New” that reminded me I wanted to clean the headlights on the car. I ended up getting Turtle Wax instead.

15. I was running to the store, and Kelly asked me to pick up a few other things.

These two pages are typical of what fills my Field Notes notebooks. As I said, it is all ephemeral, a kind of temporary cache for my aging memory. But it works surprisingly well.


  1. Hi Jamie, do you start every new day on a new page? And how do you keep track of notes after transfering to Obsidian?

    1. Sandra, no, I fill each page, and typically draw lines between subjects and days. I’ll scribble the date under a line when there is a new day. These are not meant to be neat and pretty notebooks. These are working notes — field notes, so to speak — and the pages are often messy with notes, scribblings, diagrams, etc. Once I’ve transferred notes to Obsidian, I use them the same way I use any notes I have in Obsidian: they will pop up in some kind of search. For a recent example, I couldn’t remember the name of the chapel of skulls we visited when in Italy this summer. A quick search in Obsidian brought up a note that I’d transferred from my Field Notes notebook at the time with the name of the place: Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.