The Idea Book

23 02 2012

During my last year in graduate school, I started noticing that my boss was carrying a notebook with him whenever he went to meetings, talks, poster sessions, journal clubs, etc..  I walked into his office one day and he was browsing an article and writing stuff in his notebook.  I asked him about it and he told me it was his “idea notebook.”  I always (ok not always, but sometimes) take notes during talks, and if I like a poster I’ll get them to e-mail me a PDF or take a hard copy.  In my mind, I was doing the same thing as my boss.  However, I can’t tell you where all of those scraps of notebook paper are or where the hard copies from those posters went.

Now, I am beginning to see my boss’ wisdom.

Since he wrote all of this notes (even transcribing things from hard-copies) in one single notebook, he can easily keep track of all of his thoughts and ideas.  Now that I am all grown up and coming up with ideas of my own, I have started keeping my own idea book.  As I read articles, I write down interesting reactions or molecules (always writing down the reference so that I can find the hard copy when I need it) and any thoughts I have about the paper and any big ideas I walk away with from their paper.  I’m going to my first big meeting as an assistant professor next month, so I will get to test my notebook out during talks and poster sessions.

I am really excited about doing this.  I think it has gotten me back in the mindset of research and has gotten my wheels turning for coming up with my own ideas.

So, do any of you keep and idea book? If not, how do you keep track of all of your ideas (my mind is too cluttered to keep them all up there!)? I’m always looking for ways to keep my thoughts organized.

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3 responses

26 02 2012
mareserinitatis

I probably should, but instead I tend to put things on a white board in my office (where I am the sole user) and into a text document on my computer. I’ve never been good about taking notebooks with me, though. I have for years tried to keep a calendar book with me, only to forget it all the time. Now I keep everything schedule related on my iPhone, and for the first time in my life, I’m not missing appts. like crazy. I just need to figure out a way to do it with my ‘idea book’, too.

Maybe I really do need an iPad. :-/

27 02 2012
joshuca

I love my white board! I tend to put my To-Do list on it for the day/week, and I use it to draw out ideas when I need to get out from behind my desk. I like my notebook because, being a chemist, I draw mostly structures and that is easiest with a good ole pen and paper. I do like the idea of transferring those into a text document on my computer later. That is something that I should start doing! I do like the iPad (one of these days maybe I can afford one) because I’ve seen apps that are note programs where you can use a stylus and hand write notes/structures and then they automatically will transfer into a text document. I’m going to have to look into that!

27 02 2012
mareserinitatis

Uh oh…now you’re making me think bad thoughts. I keep hemming and hawing about getting one because I’m not totally convinced it’s worth the expense.

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