Kaizen, Keychains, and The R-Mode Brain

OK, time for another post from the wonderful world of kaizen!

A few weeks ago, I began reading Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware.

It’s one of those books that is full of self-improvement and self-organization principles and tips, 2/3rds of which you’ve either picked up from elsewhere, or have worked out yourself; but seeing them consolidated in one place (along with lots of other things you didn’t know) makes it incredibly useful. [1. Side note: I'm increasingly loving Pragmatic books, & am slowly getting more; in earlier years I'd try & learn everything about a subject, now I'm getting the hang of abstracting away the clutter, no mean feat for me... ]

At the time I started writing this post, I was 16 pages in. As I finally sit down to finish this post, I’m now about two-thirds through, which is already a clue – I’m re-appraising what gives me value (Lean Development-style) in my life, and prioritising to churn out posts all the time is not once of them. A blogger I am not.

But, near-obsessive note-taking and logging for both documentation and reflective purposes, is! [2. See Livejournal archive for some evidence. I had to force myself out of the habit of random, meandering rambles.] And hence this post.

What kicked this off was the early suggestion to capturing thoughts & notes on physical paper (not computerised to-do lists). And also, having them on you at all times, to capture all thoughts.

This is a no-brainer idea, & I’ve tried this before, but I’ve found it surprisingly hard to implement. Historically, I’ve been both good and bad at this; making scrappy, hand-scrawled notes everywhere, which were then lost or indecipherable, even if I could read them. And, I try to travel light these days – I’ve tried this idea before, using notepads, but – you guess it – I’d leave them behind. So I’d use notes on my phone, tools such as Remember The Milk, etc.,  but they steer you towards linear to-do lists, missing out much of the context of the thoughts (assuming they can even be considered “things to do” in the first place).

So, to keep them in once place (& not written on my hand!), I had the great idea of adding it to my keys, which I have with me whenever I leave the house. But can you find a small, lightweight notebook & pen combo? Nope. Not even the highly-recommended Moleskin do any. The Zebra telescopic pen looked promising, but for £5!?!

One trip to WHS Smith led to a cheap spiral-bound notepad. Problem: cutting the notepad to fit made the paper all scruffy (especially round the edges of the holes, if you’ve ever tried this you know what I mean).

Then a trip to Rymans. Hooray! Look what I found:

It’s a set of Study Cards and a chained pencil!

You’re meant to write on them as some kind of memory test for studying, but I re-purposed them. Perfect, eh?

OK, no. The shortened pencil was useless – when short enough to keep in the pocket, I couldn’t really hold it, or move it round to write with! And cutting the pencil down in the first place… well let’s just say I don’t own a pencil sharpener, and going ot work’s Reception to borrow one juts led to them thinking I was some Scrooge figure trying to get the last life out of a well-used pencil.

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