7 Reasons to Try Field Notes

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Field Notes is a com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in mak­ing small, Amer­i­can-made pock­et note­books. My first impres­sion was that they were too small and not worth my atten­tion. That has changed.

Researchers say our brain is more engaged when we write long­hand. Even if you don’t revis­it your notes, the act of writ­ing with a pen or pen­cil can improve your mem­o­ry reten­tion and reduce stress.

My first love: The Moleskine

I’ve always been a pen-and-paper kind of per­son, and thought my Mole­sk­ine was “it.” I bought a ton and loved writ­ing in them. But then I learned there was a supe­ri­or cat­e­go­ry to Mole­sk­ines.

So when I saw Brad Dowdy switch from Mole­sk­ines to Doane Paper and Rho­dia, I knew I had a lot to learn.

Addicted to pens

Brad is the founder of PenAddict.com and the host of The Pen Addict Pod­cast. I still remem­ber when the first episode post­ed and I’ve been fol­low­ing his blog since before he switched to Square­space.

When I heard Brad talk about Field Notes on the Pen Addict Pod­cast, and ded­i­cat­ed entire episodes to talk­ing about dif­fer­ent editions—I imme­di­ate­ly thought to myself, they’re too small to write any­thing in and not for me.

I placed my first order when the Ambi­tion Edi­tion was just released. I remem­ber walk­ing down to the mail­box, open­ing the pack­age and enjoy­ing the whole unpack­ing process. I thought to myself—I’d love to expe­ri­ence this again. I won­der what the oth­er edi­tions are like. (You can expe­ri­ence me reen­act­ing this in the video above.)

Then I start­ed real­ly USING them. In the Field Nuts com­mu­ni­ty (yes, a real thing), there are some that col­lect and resell at crazy prices. Oth­ers, like me, are real users.

How I became a user

I kept one in my pock­et to jot down ideas. I sketched “char­ac­ters” I saw at the super­mar­ket. I out­lined input lists when doing sound and need­ed to check the snake was wired cor­rect­ly. I had nev­er owned a pock­et note­book “this nice”—and once I had one, I was excit­ed to find ways to use it for real.

Quick­ly, I dis­cov­ered I couldn’t live with­out Field Notes. That’s when the obses­sion kicked in. I became a month­ly subscriber—and bought extra packs to ensure I “had enough.” Now I have so many that I give them away when I meet with peo­ple.

Enough of my sto­ry. I real­ly want YOU to con­sid­er try­ing them and see for your­self what all the hype is about. What fol­lows is a list of 7 rea­sons you might want to try Field Notes.

1. They’re made in the USA

That’s hard to find these days! Although, since Field Notes has been in exis­tence, more USA-based com­pa­nies are pop­ping up.

Both the cov­er and the “innards” of Field Notes are sourced from paper com­pa­nies in the Unit­ed States. On the back, inside cov­er, you can learn the exact kind of paper and where it was milled.

2. They’re an insanely useful size

If you love to sketch HUGE pic­tures and mind maps, Field Notes aren’t going to work. (Try using the flip-charts by Post-It.) But that doesn’t mean they’re not use­ful.

Sit­ting down at a desk and write in a Field Notes memo book. You’ll quick­ly find they’re the right size for writ­ing down most things you need to remem­ber or fig­ure out.

School taught us that an 8.5“x 10″ spi­ral or com­po­si­tion note­book is the right size. Print­er paper is 8.5″ x 11″ so any­thing small­er than that is too small, right? Not so much.

All I can say is…they’re big enough to keep lists, sketch­es, quotes, stick­ers, and action items. It’s not a TINY note­book. It’s a small note­book, with enough space to get your ideas out.

Some peo­ple try to cram too much on one page. If you grab a pack of Field Notes, I rec­om­mend keep­ing it sim­ple and using one page to write one idea. While that might seem like wast­ing paper, it’s real­ly not. You’ll soon be reap­ing the ben­e­fits of writ­ing things by hand. It’s what it was made for!

3. They have the right amount of pages

I don’t know about you, but I had a hard time actu­al­ly fill­ing up an entire spi­ral note­book when I was in school.

Field Notes are 48 pages, which means it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble to fill a book up. Get­ting to the end of a book feels like a small vic­to­ry. It’s an immense­ly sat­is­fy­ing feel­ing when you get to the last page and have the JOY and excite­ment of begin­ning a new book.

4. For the price, you won’t experience better paper

At only $9.95 for 3 books, you get to expe­ri­ence Finch opaque paper—which has an excel­lence opac­i­ty and thick­ness. When you write on one page, you’re focused on that page. It holds up well, even if it gets bent up in your back pock­et.

5. You’ll remember things longer

If the research on this isn’t con­vinc­ing, all I can say is that what I write in my Field Notes “stays with me” even if I don’t look back at it.

You don’t need Field Notes to try this…but if you get Field Notes, you’ll be more like­ly to try it because you will have a con­ve­nient place to put things you know you need to remem­ber.

6. The graph and lines are the right brightness/thickness

Dur­ing my Mole­sk­ine phase, I’d occa­sion­al­ly get a note­book with the per­fect hair­line thin, grey line. But oth­er times, I’d end up with stronger, black lines. It wasn’t a huge dif­fer­ence, but enough to make the page feel con­strict­ed and my writ­ing sec­ondary. And it was left to chance. I had no idea what I was real­ly get­ting.

The design­ers of Field Notes take the print­ing on the note paper very seri­ous­ly. Every book is con­sis­tent. If you need the lines or graph, it’s there—but is in the back­ground if you don’t need it.

Per­son­al­ly, I like the grid. It helps with spac­ing hor­i­zon­tal­ly and ver­ti­cal­ly.

7. There’s more than just pocket notebooks

If the size of a pock­et note­book turns you off, try their reporter’s note­book, larg­er note­book, or steno pad. It’s the same great paper and design in a dif­fer­ent pack­age. Yes, I own both of these.

[share­able cite=“Field Notes”]I’m not writ­ing it down to remem­ber lat­er. I’m writ­ing it down to remem­ber it now.[/shareable]

[reminder]Do you enjoy writ­ing in note­books? Why?[/reminder]

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