another drone in the Moleskine army

If you spend much time reading personal productivity blogs or personal finance blogs, you’ve probably heard people fussing constantly about their precious Moleskine notebooks. I always thought it was ridiculous that people went on and on about them like they weren’t just notebooks. I was using the little spiral-metal reporter notebooks and that was working just fine.

Then it happened. I violated half of the things I preach in this blog. I was on vacation and window-shopping at a bookstore with Bubelah. There, in a little display, was the infamous Moleskine notebook. I made a fatal mistake and thought “well, I could just pick one up and look at it and see what all of the fuss is about.”

It was light and sturdy. The pages were nothing like regular paper, rough and bleached white. They were smooth and cream-colored and looked elegant. The ad proclaimed it the notebook of Hemingway and Matisse and Van Gogh. I knew that if I had one, I would “join the club.” I was on vacation and wanted a souvenir. I felt the Amex struggling in my wallet (an uncomfortable sensation) and I was lost.

A little bit of background is in order here about my personal productivity habits. For years I used a Treo 90 (no wireless capability) as my organizer. Dates, contacts, memos, everything went in my Treo. I really liked my Treo, and it served me well on many a boring business trip. I never had any trouble syncing it up with my desktop and generally there was nothing it couldn’t do.

However, after four years of heavy use my Treo started to fade a bit. The battery needed recharging constantly. Most importantly, I found myself needing it less and less. I left my heavy-traveling job and started consulting, a job where I am seldom more than an hour away from a computer. Google introduced a huge mix of free applications that were wonderfully searchable and easily accessible – Gmail in particular, but also Gcal and Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I found that since I was sitting at a computer at work and I had a laptop sitting on the kitchen counter at home, it was far easier to access all of that information on line. Plus, the integration of all of these applications made re-entering info in the Treo painful. When someone emailed me their address, I didn’t really want to reenter it in my Treo when I could click one link and put it in my Contacts list.

So I found myself gradually drifting away from my Treo, and finally put it away a few months ago. One process didn’t lend itself well to online work, though – my to-do list. I tried a few applications, and several were very good. Remember the Milk is excellent. But I wanted to have access to my to-do list all the time. I thought of carrying my Treo around just for that, but that seemed excessive.

The past few months I tried carrying around a little wire-spiral notebook but it just didn’t appeal to me. My dad has done this for years, with great success, but I kept forgetting to write in it or check it. Eventually I was going to have to find something to manage my to-do list, because I can’t rely on my brain to track even 2-3 to-do items at a time, much less my usual 40 or so. I like to write down

Enter the Moleskine. It may just be temporary infatuation, but I love writing in it. I love checking my notes. I love crossing things off my to-do list in there. To this point, it has made my to-do list a breeze. I can’t imagine switching back to a regular notebook. The negatives are that they are of course expensive, they are habit-forming and maybe a little pretentious. The negative for you, the reader, is that now I’m one of those people who will pepper you with anecdotes about my Moleskines like I’m crazy woman with 16 cats talking about Mr. Whiskers, the feisty one. I irritate myself, in advance. But it’s true – they are great.

The moral of the story – stay off the crack, kids. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked for life.