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Honouring the Stationery Underdogs: The classic File and Clipboard make the maybe most flexible analogue (desk) note taking-system

I love using notebooks. I do mostly use one notebook at a time. Never more than a maximum of two, since I do personally follow the “super book method”, i.e. everything that needs to be jotted down goes into one notebook. And I mean EVERYTHING. That saves a considerable lot of hustle when searching for a particular thought or idea, since there are only one or two places to search for the information – not a hundred. This shall do as a passing remark for now. I will write more on my personal note taking- and archiving-system later on.

When I sit at my desk, having more structured note taking to do, I do however mostly stick to simple plain white A4 paper and a classic lever arch file. The latter are really beautiful here in Sweden, mostly coming with a nice looking cloth back that is available in different colors. They do look something like this here:



Those files make a perfectly flexible archiving system because they allow you, as opposed to a regular notebook, to place any note on any paper in any format  in whatever order or logic you need it to follow. Especially when working on more complex ideas, outlining, adding and discarding stuff, I find this to be an extremely well working desk system. It might be too cumbersome to take it with you. But that does not really matter since the system takes any note jotted down on the go or any printed paper from whatever context and brings it all together in a single place. Add some colored StickyNotes as a flexible index and you are good to go.

For the note taking one might use any spiral-bound notepad or whatever – I personally prefer to use regular printing paper. It has no ruling, is cheap and does not need to be teared out of the notepad. For holding a stack of paper together, I do prefer the good old clipboard. It keeps everything neatly together and makes an excellent writing surface. There is just nothing better for me for that purpose. When done with the note or sketch, I take out the paper, punch holes in it and send it off to the file where it is stored and ready to be rearranged at any time.

As some of you may know, I do enjoy an occasional flea market trip – I had such a trip just yesterday and happened to stumble upon a really nice brown clipboard there.


It was just 5 Swedish Crownes (around 50 Eurocent) and in perfect condition. I flipped it around and saw that it was distributed by the British office products company Rapesco.



I then looked it up on the internet and it turned out that it apparently even is a pretty robust piece, being hard-wearing and waterproof, made for use in a heavy duty environment such as warehouses or construction sites. Now my office is not a construction site (well, sometimes it maybe is), but I guess the clipboard will still be okay with its new home and purpose.


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