Collection Gear for the Road Warrior


Sometimes, it is not possible or practical to use electronic devices to collect information (e.g., when working in an area that prohibits electronic devices, or when the pace of discussion is faster than can be recorded). In those times, it may be necessary to go "low tech"; paper and pen/pencil. What kind of gear? Whatever you will train yourself to use.

Ideation gear

I've found the Write On-Cling On Sheets (National Brand 24-391) can be very handy for visual discussions. They can be better than a poster board if/when you have flat wall space; you can roll up the sheets, fold them, put them in your pocket. They are somewhat fragile and should be converted to electronic version (or durable form) as soon as possible after the session. I prefer to put ideas/concepts/topics on 3"x 5" (or larger) Post It Notes and stick them to the sheet. Makes it possible to easily and quickly relocate the idea/concept/topic to capture the thinking without erasing. When satisfied, then use markers to more permanently capture the thoughts. Do NOT use permanent Sharpies; use erasable markers. The permanent ink tends to bead up and smear. The erasable version will become permanent over time.

Letter size

For taking notes, there's the standard 8 1/2" x 11" notepads (I do not like legal size; they don't fit folders, or ledgers, or anything else I use). Always, process raw notes soon after taking them. Strongly suggested is the Cornell method for note-taking, designed by Walter Pauk, emeritus, at Cornell University. Basically, the left 2 1/2" is for questions and callouts, the right 6" is for notes, the bottom 2" is a summary of the notes on that page. [N/B: Cornell University has directions on how to use the layout. The directions by Utah State contains an example]. I prefer to put the date (and time, if needed) in the top right corner (in yyyy-mm-dd format) with the subject underneath. If there are multiple pages, I'll put "1 of ", "2 of ", etc. in the bottom right corner. When at the last page, I'll put that number following the "of" in all the preceding pages. I used to use both sides of the paper, but found it was too hard to lay out all the pages at once. When converting to electronic form, try a two column table (call-outs and notes) with a row for each concept.


There are times when notepad is too bulky. I used to carry a dayplanner, and loved it, but it had a flaw; no alarm clock. A smart phone gave me a calendar with alarms, and it gave me contacts lists, notes, etc. It provided me the reminder and reference services I had in the dayplanner. Thus, the only non-redundant piece was the high-speed information collection capability (i.e., paper). But I could never get comfortable standing and taking notes in a dayplanner. Too bulky. What sufficed were note cards (3x5, 4x6, 5x7). I have found 3"x5" cards, with a smartphone, can replace a dayplanner. Larger, 4"x6" are bulkier, but my Epson printer can print on them (making it possible to increase the capacity of readable information). Carrying the cards can be a problem. One answer, from; miniature foldback clips. A better, at least complimentary, solution is a wallet (IMHO, the best was from CaveBlogEm, the DIY 5 Pocket Index Card Wallet. Directions call for a 13"x13" piece of Tyvek, but I prefer a bit larger, to allow for gluing space between the sections. Without gluing, cards can slide sideways from pocket to pocket. However, Tyvek will absorb body oil and start looking like dirty parchment.