2021 Through Field Notes Notebooks

four field notes notebooks I filled in 2021

I filled four Field Notes notebooks in 2021, which is about average for me. Some years I’ve filled more, some less. I started the year with a National Parks edition (Acadia). One of the first notes I have for 2021 was a list of my favorite books from 2020. It is interesting to see the order I jotted them (from memory) and the order that I finally put them in when I wrote about them. There is also a note reminding me to watch the Cobra Kai series, which I really enjoyed. (And I just finished watching the newly released season.) There are lots of shopping lists and notes for post ideas. There are also things I jotted down that might have been for posts but which I never ended up using (at least so far). One of these is a note that reads: “Autocorrects are the bloopers of texting.” I think there’s something in that.

Next up was a United States of Letterpress edition. That notebook begins with notes related to migrating this blog to WordPress.com (from a self-managed installation of WordPress). There are also lots of notes in that notebook from our summer road trip through upstate New York to Cooperstown, Seneca Falls, Niagara Falls, and places in Pennsylvania and Ohio. There is a page with a list of rides we rode when we took the Littlest Miss to Dutch Wonderland for her birthday. And there our notes from our long weekend in Rehoboth Beach, where a waiter in one of the restaurants we ate at saw my Field Notes notebook and referred to me as a C.I.A. guy because I was jotting things down on paper.

Then there is a Trailhead Edition (Appalachian), which continues with notes from our time in Rehoboth Beach. Lots of notes in this one recording scores for fall soccer games as well as notes from parent-teacher conferences. Also is a note with the names of our new neighbors. I always try to jot down the names of people when I meet them. Jotting them down almost guarantees I will remember them later.

I wrapped up the last part of the year with a Workshop Companion edition (Wood Working version). Lots of notes on this one on vacation planning, and especially, planning out the 21 blog posts I wrote in advance of heading off on our recent 3-week vacation. This one contains a rare sketch I made (sitting in church on Christmas Eve, waiting for the service to begin) as well as my score for a round of mini golf I played with the family (2 over par). This one spills into 2022, but three-quarters full already and I suspect I’ll be starting a brand new notebook in a week or so.

Sketch I made waiting for church to begin
Sketch I made waiting for church to begin

I still have a large supply (probably around 100) blank Field Notes notebooks to choose from. And I get more each quarter as part of their annual subscription. I gave away quite a few notebooks as gifts to friends and family. I haven’t decided which one I’ll go with next, but the Heavy Duty edition is a personal favorite so that one is a possibility. Stay-tuned.

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  1. Hey man! What made you decide to use Field Note Notebooks instead of an app like ToDoist or something similar, even Evernote. Is there an advantage you’ve found? I’ve often thought of going back to the pen and paper method; however, I’ve become so dependent on my note/task manager (Evernote and ToDoist) that syncs across all my devices. I would love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Wade, I’ve written about this elsewhere (most recently, this) but the gist of it is that I spent a decade using Evernote (I was their Paperless Ambassador for many years), Todoist, and I’ve tried just about all the to-do apps out there. For me, paper notebooks (Field Notes in my case) offer 2 advantages all of these apps haven’t been able to overcome: (1) a paper notebook in my back pocket is quick-draw. I can pull out my notebook and scribble a note faster than I can unlock my phone, let alone open an app; (2) I find the act of writing by hand pleasing. Also these notes are ephemeral: they are my short-term memory. I don’t need to keep all of them electronically, just the ones that are important, and it is easy enough to do that. But I also enjoy flipping through the old books to see what was occupying my mind in past years. Evernote and Todoist are fantastic, they just don’t quite meet my requirements for a quick and easy note-taking/to-do app.

  2. And you don’t need to keep a paper notebook charged, or keep track of a charging cord.
    You do need to keep a pen or pencil handy, though.
    I use both Field Notes and Moleskine.


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