OK, maybe I am being a little dramatic. But honestly, isn’t that the goal of the big, hairy, audacious goals in your personal notebook? Or as Chris Guillebeau would call it, Practical Resources For World Domination. I hope, not that I get sued, but that my work someday gets important and valuable enough to be used as evidence in a court case. To have any lesser goals is a waste of time.
I have written previously about the need for a note taking system. Since writing that post, some friends on Twitter linked me to a few posts that can take my previous one to the next level. One of the articles is by Jill Hubbard Bowman on note taking with the intent of creating legal evidence of your intellectual property. The other article is one from the productivity guru Tim Ferriss titled ‘How to Take Notes Like an Alpha-Geek.’
Both of these articles were so written so well that I decided to let them explain in their own words. Hopefully, even though they are segments of the articles, they will do the original posts justice. First up, experts from Jill about why note taking is so important:
Beware of a few important things when documenting your ideas. Courts don’t trust electronic documents. Dates are often critical to claims of ownership and patent statutory issues. Everyone knows that dates can be electronically altered and faked. Trustworthy records are crucial to have any chance to of standing up in court.
She goes on to describe the type of notebooks that are best to hold up in a court of law. The notebook should have permanent binding (a composition notebook or lab notebook works well) and all writing should be done in permanent ink. It makes modifications or plagiarism much more visible.
On the inside cover of the Notebook:
- Prominent, legible, printed name of creator
- Name of employer or IP owner
- Date that notebook is started and finished
- Location where work is being conducted
In the Notebook use the following:
- Legible handwriting
- Project and topic headings
- List of all people involved in each project
- References used or sources of ideas if any
- Ideas described in a way that is understandable to others in the field
- Contemporaneous entry of ideas and research
- Full date on every entry!
- Time of work, if done during off hours and IP ownership is an issue
- Initials on the bottom of every page
- Printouts of key software code sections stapled to notebook pages
- Printouts of key data stapled to notebook pages
You should have a witnessed record of when you conceived of the idea and when you actually made a working version of the idea. This is critical for patentable inventions. You need to remember that you are creating potential legal evidence.
Here is Tim about creating an indexing system and why that is so important.
Simple but effective note taking enables me to:
-Review book highlights in less than 10 minutes
-Connect scattered notes on a single theme in 10 minutes that would otherwise require dozens of hours
-Contact and connect mentors with relevant questions and help I can offer
-Impose structure on information for increased retention and recall
My favorite notepads (covered below) generally don’t have page numbers off the shelf. Here’s how you progress with a non-paginated pad:
A. Put page numbers on the upper-right of each right-hand page but not on the left (e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.). I do about 30 pages at a time, as needed.
I hope to employ these practices soon with my blank notebook in the picture above. Thanks to Jill and Tim, my Moleskine will soon help me to rule the world. What do you guys think? Do you see the importance in keeping a notebook like this? Or am I again being a crazy, too organized guy?