There’s Nothing Like A Good Notebook

I keep at least one notebook with me wherever I go. This is funny because among my family members I’m considered the most tech savvy. That means, according to modern thought, I should use some sort of app to take all my notes.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing like putting pen to paper. And notebooks, unlike tech products, don’t crash. The trick is finding the one that works best for your needs. Here’s a quick picture of the three I use.

Yep. Three separate notebooks for the sake of everyday work, plus four pens. Each has their own specific purpose. I’m going to break down the focus of each, and hopefully give you some tips on which would work best for you. We’re going to work from left to right in this photo.

1. Moleskine Smart Writing Paper Tablet and Pen+

This is about as close to high tech as I get. The black Moleskine has been a staple of my notebooks ever since I got my first one. With the Smart Writing set Moleskine took writing to another level. The Pen+ records everything you write and saves it to the M+ app as you write it. If you want voice recording on the pen, it’ll add that to your notes too. The entire set up is like something out of a James Bond movie.

If you don’t have the app open when you’re writing, no worries. The pen will automatically transfer the data to the device with the M+ app installed when you open it next. You can also specify notebooks and more. I’m still getting used to the functionality of it, but it’s been a handy device when my MacBook isn’t around.

The entire setup runs about $139 at Barnes and Noble.

2. Rite in the Rain Journal And Pen

This number is what I carry everywhere. It’s small enough to fit in a jacket pocket and designed to take notes even when it’s raining outside (hence the name). The pages in the notebook are waterproof and the pen’s cartridge allows you to write on wet surfaces. I keep a Space Pen with this when traveling out and about in case one ink cartridge runs out. It’s great for jotting down brief thoughts or notes. The notepad and ink cartridges are naturally replaceable and easily findable if you have a nearby REI.

If you have the complete case with the cover, there’s also two pockets inside you can use to stash a few items of interest. Not really something I’d use often, but the notebook is the key.

You can get the set for about $40 at your local REI, or online.

3. Best SELF Journal

This is a personal choice, and one that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to anyone. It’s a journal designed as a daily planner for people with a specific goal to achieve. The start of the journal is a brief overview of their 13 week system to help you figure out a specific goal and achieve it. Then you sign a pledge and date it to fully “commit” to the process.

There’s space for you to outline months in your 13 weeks, and spaces where you’re asked to write about specific goals and steps you took in every process. Every day you’re encouraged to plan your day to the hour, set a goal and define targets to hit that goal.

Best Self encourages reflection on your day as well as gratitude. You will be asked every morning to write down three things you are grateful for, and do the same in the evening. There is a space devoted to “lessons learned” for the day and a “brag zone” where you list what you achieved that day.

There’s also space each day for you to list your appointments and such, but you have to make sure you plan those in with your goal setting.

Does the process work? Yes and no. The first few days I had issues getting what I wanted out of the journal, because I didn’t really grasp the focus. I suspect new users won’t as well.  That’s why they have an “online community” for you to join that will allegedly help you reach your goals. I am not a fan of “communities” that I have no relation to, but I do enjoy the structure the journal provides.

I’ve definitely become more productive with the system once I started and stuck to it.

You can buy the Best Self journal for about $40 at Amazon if you’re so inclined.

There you have it. Three separate notebooks, each with their own usage, and each promoting a sense of productivity about them. All a part of this writer/lawyer/hell-raiser’s toolbox. Hope some of this helps you.

Fault Lines: Join Us

Several months ago I reached out to Scott Greenfield, the managing editor of Fault Lines, and asked for a shot at writing on the site.  I sent a submission, as the worst he could do was say “no.” Today I write three to four times a week at Fault Lines, the only online legal magazine featuring criminal law analysis from professionals ranging the scope of the criminal justice system, including three Federal judges.  And it’s time for more to join our ranks, according to the managing editor.

Fault Lines isn’t a place to come if you’re looking for someone to nod their head, pat you on the tummy, and confirm you’ve got the correct opinion.  There are times some of the contributors posted articles that made me want to destroy my laptop.  Andrew King, our prosecutor, is the one usually responsible for this.  We harbor no bias and examine all views, even if I usually think Andrew King is wrong about everything.
Content isn’t just the best part of Fault Lines  As I’ve said in the past, any asshole can express an opinion on the Internet, and many unfortunately use the Web to make people dumber.  Fault Lines brings you insight from all perspectives across the system we can muster in a smart, reasoned fashion currently in the system.  We have criminal defense attorneys, an active prosecutor, three Federal Judges, and an ex cop turned lawyer.  We’re always looking for more perspectives, and I know one we’d love is an active duty cop.

There are requirements for Fault Lines.  You have to be able to stick to deadlines no matter what.  You have to be able to write in a reasonable, coherent fashion.  You also need to be fairly bulletproof to criticism, as our commenters often demonstrate.  And you need to make sure when you discuss an issue, you get the law right.   If you possess the necessary qualifications, we want you.

Since writing at Fault Lines I’ve been on the radio discussing legal issues pertinent to Tennessee, I’ve managed to piss off a few prominent politicians as an effort to effect change, I’ve gotten business, and continued improvement in my content output as a writer.  If you want to write, and want a national platform, and would like to get better at your writing, the best shot you have is applying for Fault Lines.

If you want to give it a shot, here’s how to apply.

Compound Communication Update: Blab

I’ve been a naughty boy in neglecting Mediation is Dead lately. Those of you who know me outside my online presence know of my upswing in work hours, as well as my continued attempts at finding new ways to improve my practice and work through efficient means. As I write this, I’m attempting to work on a show idea for a new platform called “Blab” I just recently learned about. This will allow better interaction with my audience, as well as allow me to have on guests from time to time. I liked the Collaborative Compound Podcasts, but i’m still figuring a lot of shit out. This will, if people dig it enough, be the new method of bringing you content outside the site.

A big focus point for me is getting the message and site content out as frequently as I would like. Unfortunately, due to work obligations and time spent writing elsewhere I don’t always accomplish that goal. The end result is spreading my message of litigation versus mediation and a “conflict free” life may suffer as a result. Fortunately for me, I have the blessing of several great mentors and friends who provide me with the tools to have a national (and sometimes international) voice on issues I care about. The Compound, and this site, are still my babies. It’s my platform for personal expression and sharing my views, so I can’t allow this to continue without more daily content.

The Blab show will go live soon. You’ll need the Blab app to view and take part. There isn’t an Android app, but you can go to this site and check out the show.

I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Calling All Cops (No, Seriously)

One of the best projects I’ve ever gotten to work with is Fault Lines, an online legal magazine run by Scott Greenfield and Lee Pacchia.  At Fault Lines, we cover all aspects of the criminal justice system from every perspective.  Our work includes a former prosecutor, an active prosecutor who has a penchant for pissing readers off by being smart and reasoned when he writes, criminal defense attorneys, a Senior Federal Judge, someone who works with prisoners, and an ex cop turned lawyer.

There’s one perspective that we’re missing at Fault Lines, though, and that’s the perspective of an active-duty cop.  If you’re reading this, and you fit that description, and you’re interested in providing the world the viewpoint of someone who straps on a service belt every day, then we’re interested in hearing from you. Give us the cops’ perspective.

You’re going to need to be able to write at least two posts per week.  You will need to be able to meet deadlines consistently.  You must be able to write in a thoughtful, reasoned, articulate fashion.  Your posts will get edited, so don’t worry about sounding erudite from the get-go.  If you’re not confident in your ability to write, Scott Greenfield will kick your ass into being one of the best writers you can possibly imagine.

We’d love to hear from you, so if you’re interested in becoming a part of Fault Lines, read the directions on how to apply and give it a shot.  The worst that will happen is Scott will say “no thanks,” and life will go on.

It’s a great platform, it’s a good cause, and you’ll be a better writer for your efforts.  If those reasons don’t make you want to give it a shot, then Fault Lines isn’t for you.  If you’re keen on bring your perspective to the table, then step up to the plate and take a swing.

While you’re reading this, take a moment and sign up for the Fault Lines newsletter.  Just enter your name and email address in the box on the right-hand side of the page and we’ll email all the good stuff we pump out to you daily.  There’s no spam, no BS, no marketing gimmicks, just 100% pure awesome legal analysis.