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Productivity Pr0n: 5 Unusually Useful Notepads

Productivity Pr0n: 5 Unusually Useful Notepads

5 Unusually Useful Notepads

    Hi. My name is Dustin, and I’m addicted to notepads.

    I first realized I was addicted when I found myself prowling office supply stores in the wee hours of the afternoon, trying to score a college-ruled composition book. Pretty soon, I couldn’t go anywhere without my works – a battered red Moleskine and a black Sharpie click-pen.

    And it got worse. I started thinking, “maybe there’s a perfect notebook out there for this particular project.” My Moleskine’s 192 leaves bound in pocket-sized covers wasn’t enough to satisfy my growing need for specialty papers.

    The worst part is, I liked it. And I stand here before you, still liking it. Loving it. Yes, my name is Dustin, but I”m not a mere addict. I’m a paper enthusiast, a connoisseur of the carnet, a gourmand of the grid line, a foodie of foolscap.

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    Let me show you a few of my more exotic finds.

    1. Rollabind

    20100202-Rollabind

      Also marketed as the Levenger Circa system, the Rollabind (or just “Rolla”) is an infinitely customizable, assemble-it-yourself notebook made using a Rollabind punch and Rollabind discs. Basically, you take the pages you want to assemble, punch the binding edge with the special punch, and insert the discs into the punches to hold it all together. The holes are open on one side, so you can remove and insert pages at will, and the unique design allows the whole thing to be opened flat, making them easy to write on.

      The system can be used to compile planners, address books, journals, or just about anything else you can imagine, using pages of your own design, pre-printed pages akin to those sold for Dayplanners and the like, or templates from the DIY Planner site. Both Rollabind and Levenger sell a range of kits with punches, discs, and covers (from simple pressboard to luxurious leather). Circa/Rolla notebooks are a bit pricey compared to off-the-shelf notebooks (though some of the expenses, like the punch and reusable discs, can be amortized over years of notebook-making) but are pretty comparable in price to organizer sets from DayRunner or FranklinCovey.

      2. Whitelines

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      WHitelines vs. REgular Lines

        Whitelines paper has white lines. Seriously.

        If you’ve ever, say, tried to photocopy something you wrote or drew, you already know one use case for paper with white lines. If you’re a creative sort who maybe needs some lines to keep everything at the same scale but would rather not have to compete with those lines when displaying your ideas, you know another. And Whitelines has you pegged, because they make paper with white lines.

        So here’s the deal: Whitelines notebooks are made with a lightly toned paper lined or gridded with white ink, so you can definitely see the lines while you’re working (meaning you avoid the “over-the-cliff” curve you get when you write on unlined paper) but step away just a bit and the lines fade away. And there are bindings for everyone, from hard-bound Moleskine-like notebooks to perfect-bound paperbacks to glue-bound notepads (so you can tear sheets off),

        Available in the US only through specialty retailers (mostly book stores), Canadians and Western Europeans can find them at your national Amazon stores as well as in several chains. Prices are comparable to Moleskines of the same size and format. Use the store finder to find out how to get yours.

        3. Behance Dot Grid Book

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        20100202-behance

          Behance notebooks are beloved of creative professionals, and the Dot Grid Book and Dot Grid Journal are a pretty good indication of why. Designers want the precision of a grid, but they also want the grid to “disappear”, to get out of their way so they can work. In other words, they appreciate good design in notebook grids as in everything else.

          And these notebooks from Behance are nothing if not good design. The “Book” model has a semi-hard “suede touch” cover that is spiral-bound to lay flat on a table or other surface; the “Journal” model is hard-bound like a Moleskine for portable knee-top use. Both have a super-light but functional grid of dots to guide without constraining so you can do layouts, tight design work, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

          4. Aquanotes

          Aquanotes

            The age-old problem of how to capture notes in the shower may have found a solution. No more messy bath crayons or grease pencils – here comes Aquanotes! Aquanotes are suction-cup-mounted notepads made of 100% waterproof paper that can be written on however wet they may be. So you always have a notepad handy at what experts say is our most creative time, shower time.

            The only problem is, where do you keep your pencil?

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            5. Notepod

            NOtepod

              Got an idea for an iPhone app? There’s a pad for that.

              Notepod is an iPhone-shaped notepad, with an unlined  writing area where the iPhone’s screen would be and gridlines on the back, packed in 100-page board-backed notepads. The implementation is new, but like the iPhone itself, the idea goes back a long ways, to the original battery-less paper Palm Pilot. Of course, you don’t have to be an iPhone developer to use a Notepod – it works just as well for on-the-fly note-taking and jotting down phone messages or, for the real low-tech, replacing your iPhone entirely (though you need a really good arm for the text messaging function…).

              Know any other cool, super-functional (or just super-neat) notepads out there? Let me and the other addicts- er, afficionados know all about them in the the comments!

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              Last Updated on July 17, 2019

              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

              What happens in our heads when we set goals?

              Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

              Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

              According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

              Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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              Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

              Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

              The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

              Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

              So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

              Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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              One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

              Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

              Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

              The Neurology of Ownership

              Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

              In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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              But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

              This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

              Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

              The Upshot for Goal-Setters

              So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

              On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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              It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

              On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

              But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

              More About Goals Setting

              Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

              Reference

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