I frequently carry a cheap 8x5 spiral notebook for my to-do lists and general notes, which has replaced my previous 8x5 yellow pads, because it’s less likely to lose leaves as it’s being carried around and manhandled. I usually have the main things I’m trying to focus on, from those lists, jotted on a 3x5 card. I also carry a bound Strathmore blank sketchbook, for drawing, the occasional poetry, longer term thoughts.
As to what I put in it, when I was in my teens, I learned the “Statement-PIE” method for taking notes in class and studying them, which has turned into a life-long way of organizing my thoughts and especially to-dos.
It’s a simple way of breaking down complex presentations or topics into a hierarchical structure of bullet points; PIE is an acronym for Proof, Information, or Example. If the next statement (or item) you need to put down is a “proof” or justification for the previous item, additional information about it, or an example of it, then it goes in one level of indent. If not, then you go up one level and check if it’s at a parallel level with the current item, and proof/information/example for the one above; repeat until you either find where it fits or decide that it’s an altogether new topic.
I would think there would be more on the web about it, but haven’t found much. In various places online you can find a used copy of “The Study Game: How to Play and Win”, which seems to be the latest incarnation of the author’s book on the system. (It’s a very '70s style book, pre-desktop-publishing, so with a lot of hand-drawn cartoon sketches manually pasted-up with the text. That might put some people off, and it’s pitched to high-school students or college freshmen, but the system is gold.)
Rendering all of this into that format would be something like:
- Physical notebooks
- Clifton carries 8 x 5 spiral notebook, containing
- To-do lists (multiple)
- Also keeps current focus to-do items on 3x5 card
- General notes on projects, etc.
- This replaced 8 x 5 yellow pads with similar notes
- Works better because pages don’t come loose and fall off
- Often carries Strathmore bound sketchbook for
- longer-term thoughts
- Keeps notes using Statement-PIE method
- Clifton learned it as a note-taking system
- During teens (Q: how long ago was that?)
- Clifton also uses it for organizing thoughts
- Simple way to break down complex topics into hierarchical bullet points
- Each new statement or topic is considered as either a new statement or PIE
- PIE stands for Proof-Information-Example
- If new statement or topic is “proof”, “information”, or “example” for immediate previous one, it’s PIE
- PIE statements should be indented one level deeper than statement they expand on
- If new statement or topic is not PIE for immediate preceding statement, go up one level
- Check if it is parallel to previous statement at that level, and PIE for its parent; if so it belongs there.
- If not, go up one more level
- If it’s not parallel to anything else or PIE to anything else, it’s a new main topic.
- Not much info about it available on the web
- Book about system is The Study Game: How to Play and Win by Laia Hanau
- “'70s style book”, pre-desktop-publishing
- hand-drawn cartoon sketches manually pasted-up with the text
- Now long out of print
- Cheap copies can be found online
- Aimed at high-school students or college freshmen
- Clifton claims “system is gold”
(Note that as I converted that into this format it naturally pushed me to note an unanswered question, and fill in a few missing pieces of information like a link to the book and the author of the system.)