Unstuffing Your Life – My Progress Report

I made a post earlier about the audio book, Unstuff your life by Andrew J Mellen. As far as Audiobooks go Andrew is a highly entertaining speaker and falls into my favorite category of audiobook. Super smart author narrates their own material so you feel like you are having this amazing one on one conversation and they are talking just to you enthusiastically sharing what they know.

Andrew even makes it playful and interacts with the listener. An adult version of Blues Clue’s.

My first project applying the book was to tackle my storage closet. I wish I had the before image, but really, who takes pictures of overcrowded junk? Let’s just say when I started I could not even walk into the closet. But when I was finished (it took a weekend), not only could you walk in, but there are actually empty shelves!

UnStuff Your Life: Storage Closet

UnStuff Your Life: Empty Shelves

Unstuff Your Life: The Rules to Clean All Your Living Spaces.

After listening to the audiobook, I have come to distill the book down to three core rules.

  1. The One Home Rule
  2. The Like with Like Rule
  3. The Frozen Rule (Let it Go)

Andrew publishes his three core rules on his website, so I don’t feel like I am giving anything away from the book. Besides, I could not possibly capture his energy and enthusiasm in a blog post. The man is worth listening too.

The One Home rule and Like with Like

Scott Adams wrote about how important it is to have Systems for Success, not just goals. Andrew Mellen’s book is just that, a system and the core of the system are the twin rules, One home for everything, and like with like. The idea is that you live in one home, so should your stuff. There should be one, and only one place your things live. When they are not in use, they belong in that home. It’s corollary however, is that similar things belong together. Why is this profound? Because when one kind of object can be in many places, that means it can be in every kind of place. It is intrinsically lost.

There is another brain science reason why this is very powerful. In his book Smart Thinking, cognitive scientist Art Markman points out that similar memories compete with one another and more importantly suppress one another during the recall process. When your brain remembers one place to find an object, that process makes it harder to remember other places to look!

Keeping like objects together reduces the chances of memory suppression.

Blue Masking Tape.

If you had asked me before I read this book, how many roles of blue masking tape were in my house I would have said, “One, possibly two, in fact I should probably stop at the store on my way home and pick up another role.”

UnStuff Your Life: Like with Like

After sorting my storage closet, and gathering my masking tape with all of their brethren I discovered eight roles of tape. Yes. Eight.

Apparently, I really like blue masking tape.

The Frozen Rule

The key to unclutter however is what I call the “Frozen Rule”. The hit song, “Let it Go” has been sort of my mantra since I started this process. In chapter one of the book, Mr. Mellen pleads with the listener to go through the process of getting clear about his or her values. In short, if I wanted to unstuff my life, I had to get clear about my values. It seemed like a waste of time until I did it. That key piece of information gives you a foundation for knowing what is valuable in your life and what is not.

If you know what you value, then you can measure every object you have surrounded yourself with and decide if it means anything to you. I see lots of calls for minimalism, I study stoicism, and austerity always sounds like a virtue. In my experience however, I was shocked by how many things I had – if not collected at least gathered into my life that I did not care about.

The Rocks

When I hike if I see a cool rock I pick it up. During this process of unstuffing, I started to go through my rocks. Two things jumped out at me. I was shocked at how many rocks I just flat out could not identify. No idea where they came from, or what they meant. Secondly, I was shocked at where they all were. On my desk, in drawers, in the garage, in my closet (apparently I needed rocks to keep my clothes company) even in the bathroom. Don’t ask what I was thinking, I don’t know.

I point that out because these were free. Not the product of consumerism. Just things I had “gathered”. They didn’t qualify as mementos, because I had no memory to go with them. And yet I held onto them and filled my space with them. The first lesson I started to learn is that when something has no meaning, there is no reason to hold on to it.

Hence my rule: Let it go.

Do I still have any rocks? Yes. A few. Ones I exactly know where they came from and what they mean. The collection if you can call it that is down to exactly three.

I still have a long way to go, but for the last two weeks my desk at home and at work has been clear, and I can find my wallet, my car keys, and my phone within 30 seconds of looking for them every time. I mean every time.

Malcome Gladwell in his book Tipping Point, points out that your environment can have a huge impact on your behavior. One small, but significant way to change your environment is to “Unstuff it”. I need to get better at before and after pictures, but so far, I can see some of the value in freeing up some space by “unstuffing it”.

The One Thing And Impact Areas

Jay Papasan presents The One Thing.

This week I was able to attend an amazing presentation by Jay Papasan about his latest book, co-authored with Gary Keller called, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

The associated website http://the1thing.com has some great resources where you can download, including most of the graphics from the book. I had the chance to ask Jay why they felt their was room for another time management book. He explained they were creating a course for the Realestate business and that Gary had written an outstanding 12 page intro to the course. “When I saw it, I thought, this needs to be a book.” Five years later they were on the New York times best seller list.

The One Thing and Impact Areas

When I compare this book with the time keeping advice in Chet Holmes “Time Management Secrets of Billionaires,” I find a useful tool for staying on task. For me, the key is to have a clear list of impact areas, key areas of your business, personal, and community life. It is a bit like keeping 6 or 7 different lists, but the within each list do you have a top priority.

During his presentation, Jay talked about having 7 bubbles, or domains you need to keep in balance. But for each one, do you know the most important thing?

Prioritizing lists is not new, but I loved the way Jay said put it. “You can not live in complexity.” Extraordinary success can be achieved through exceptional focus. The ideas in the One Thing help me focus on my Impact Areas. These impact areas help me (and my team) focus on what is important to drive the success of my business.

Having spent time with a number of time management strategies, including Getting Things Done, Stephen Covey’s weekly time blocks, and Chet Holmes Time Management Secrets of Billionaires, I have found the process I am able to apply most consistently is:

  1. Make a list of 6 things I need to do daily.
  2. Prioritize my daily list.
  3. Do the hardest thing first, early in the day.

How do I keep track of ALL the things I need to do? Two steps.

  1. Weekly check my list of impact areas and goals.
  2. Keep separate notepads for each impact area.

— Scott

Goals are for Losers

Scott Adam’s Fun, Informative, and Controversial Book Shares Some Interesting Ideas

My latest good read, is Scott Adams, “How to fail at almost everything and still win big at life.” To be honest, I have not actually “read” it. I listened to it on my iPhone via Audible. The book was read by Patrick Lawlor, who does an excellent job narrating the unabridged tome.

I won’t bother trying to review the whole book here – I highly recommend the read (or the listen).  But I will share an interesting idea he introduced and tell you my thoughts on the subject.

Goals are For Losers

Scott Adams controversial asertion that “goals are for losers” is a sensational way of selling his real idea.  His real idea is that successful people pick systems over goals.  That might sound like splitting hairs, and indeed he admits it himself, but he does have a point.

When you chase a goal:

  1. By definition you have not achieved your goal.  Therefore, by default, you are “losing”.  Long periods of losing can sap your energy.
  2. You can lose your way after you reach your goal because goals are specific, like lose 10 pounds.  What happens after you lose the weight?

In contrast, systems for success can produce different, sustainable outcomes.

  1. Every time you apply your system you are “winning”  regardless of the outcome.  This provides positive feedback. When you operate your system, you have done something positive.  This positive energy is important because it encourages you to keep applying your system.
  2. Success systems in theory have no end, they can cary you far beyond the end point defined by a single goal.
  3. Systems are open ended and therefore more opportunistic, they can lead you to outcomes goals never envision.

I like Scott Adams writing because he is inherently cynical and that pleases the engineering part of my brain.  However, there is some merit to his assertion about systems versus goals. There seems to be value sustaining positive energy versus living in a negative state. He has a number of other very interesting ideas.

I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Scott

You can find the Audio Addition Here

Or the Kindle Addition

Stars and Strikes – Good Read

I just finished reading stars and Strikes by Dan Epstein is an interesting tour through baseball history. Recommended to me by friend and fellow baseball fanatic John Bodow, Stars and Strikes tells the story of Baseball during Americas Bicentenial.

Stars and Strikes

I find it gives me a strange feeling to have lived long enough to read about “historical” events that occurred during my own life time. As I read the book, Dan recounts popular music “I loved Boston!” and popular players – I recallgoing to see The Bird pitch. I realize Mr. Epstein also grew up in Detroit and through his book we are sharing memories of our childhood. Well, I am not sharing mine with him, but he is rekindling mine.

He is also adding more background, flavor, and perspective than I would have had at 10 years old. Yes it is hard to believe the Bicentenial was nearly 40 years ago. I still vivedly remember putting red white and blue crey-paper in the spokes of my bike and hand crafting a long coat. I don’t know where my mom found the triangular hat – but they were every where that year.

She probably found it at K-Mart (No one had heard of Walmart or Target in 76). There were parades, and fireworks, and picnics. That was the summer I learned how to cut through a cheap steak on a paper plate with a plastic fork.

As for the book it is a pleasing blend of baseball and history. I will grant you that it does get a bit tedious when he recounts much of what was happening in some games. I just don’t enjoy reading baseball statistics for players I have never heard of. However, I found it easy to skim those parts and get to the real story – my story, the story of growing up in the mid 70’s.

Seventy Six was important for another reason. This was the last year of the reserve clause, the year before Free agency became a thing. This was the last time baseball players made salaries people could relate to. Personally I am glad for the athletes. There should be no cap on what someone can earn.

However, this book puts a perspective on an era that is otherwise impossible to remember or relate to.
If you are a fan of baseball, and you can recall the Bicentennial then I highly recommend this read.

Franchise Concepts – Pizza 585

Clever Concepts – Pizza 585

I have no idea if this is going to work, but that is beside the point. When I first started GameTruck one of the first things someone asked me when we started to talk about franchising was, “Is it Pizza?” I was taken aback. “No,” I replied quickly. “Good,” The advisor replied. “I never want to hear another Pizza Pitch.”

That question reminded me of a time when I was sitting in a meeting with a very young vice president of Autodesk in England. At the time I thought the guy was ancient as I was only 24 and he was… like 30 or something. One foot in the grave.

We were peddling a software add on to AutoCAD called GTXRasterCAD. It let you scan your drawings and convert them into editable blue prints. At the time that was like magic. But the Vice President demanded, “It’s not a tablet is it?” He had seen a thousand tablet pitches. There was zero chance of standing out.

Every day entreprenuers face the impossible challenge of creating something new and familiar. If you make something that is too far outside peoples everyday experience, you have built yourself a problem. It’s called “Concept awareness.” Tivo suffered from this. People loved the device – the digital video recorder – but they could not evangalize it. Customers would say things like, “It lets you watch more TV!” Who the hell wants to watch more TV? The people who would most benefit from a Tivo did not understand what it was. They were not familiar with the concept. Today we take it for granted that you can pause live TV and rewind it, or skip the commercials, or record a thousand shows, but when Tivo came out, concept awareness was a major hurdle.

And then you go to the other extreme. We all know what Pizza is. How do you create innovation in Pizza? Or sandwhiches for that matter? This is one of the reasons I admire Jimmy John’s so much. They demonstrated there is still room for innovation in sandwhich shops. They demonstrated there is tremendous room to innovate if you can be new and familiar at the same time.

Pizza585

That brings me back to Pizza 585. A few weeks back I wrote about the Fractured Prune, a donut shop built upon the Cold Stone Cremery model. Well, welcome to Pizza 585 (much better name by the way). It is a pizza, pasta, salad joint built on the Subway model.

It is a clever innovation on two familiar principles. First, that people want choice, and secondly, that they need to move people fast. Here’s the concept. You walk up to the counter, order your pizza and you have unlimited toppings (sound fammiliar?). They take your personal 10 inch pizza and cook it in 5 minutes.

That is not a type-o. Five Minutes

How?

Because the crusts are thing, the toppings are precooked. They essentially figured out that a pizza can be little more than toast with melted cheese on top. Their oven is designed to toast and broil simultaneously. Have you ever seen toast that takes longer than 5 minutes to make? Or cheese that takes longer than 5 minutes to melt in a broiler?

But the real magic is what I could call the YC Mongolian effect after my good friend and owner of YC’s. He talked about one of the best things is how people love to share their meals. They are proud of what they make. Pizza 585 plays on that idea. By having a wide range of base ingredients, Pizza 585 makes your pizza interesting, something you want to share. “here try a bite of mine!” the kids all said after their pies came out. Everyone was different. Every pizza delicious. It was more than eating, it was sharing.

The addition of Pasta and Salads were in hind-sight obvious. All the things we love on a Pizza also taste great on a Salad, or a pasta for that matter. What is Pizza sauce? It’s Pasta sauce on flat bread!

The pricing is spot on with what you would pay for a sub sandwhich.

Does this mean they will be successful?

I have no idea. Jimmy Johns has become a national phenomena as stores explode all over the United States. Jimmy Johns “So fast you’ll freak” gives them another amazing advantage. They have unbelievable throughput. They can move people through their lines. Consequently their revenue per square foot is unbelievable. What’s more, they have conditioned their clientel to keep moving. They won’t kick out out, but the vibe is get it, eat it, go. This churn gives them a fantastic revenue model. According to their latest FDD the average store can do $100,000 a month in revenue. That’s the average.

So will 5 minute pizzas make 585 a hit?

I am sure the owners will settle for just being profitable. But it’s too early to tell. What I do know is that it is the first new concept in Pizza I have seen in a long time, and that alone makes it worth checking out.

Clunkdroid- Why does Android Still Feel Unfinished?

Is it Just Me?  Or does Android still feel unfinished?

Recently I had to switch to owning a connected a google device for one simple reason.  I needed my Google Calendar when I was on the road.  I don't know what's going on or why, but my Apple Calendar will not sync with my Google Calendar and we pretty much run our whole company on Google Apps (gmail, calendar, docs). 

While  I could use the google iOS apps, for reasons unknown I am required to login every, single, time.  This is a huge problem for me as I use a complex password with lots of symbols.  Try typing a 16 character (4×4) password with symbols and case changes on an iOS keyboard.  It's PAINFUL to impossible.

Therefore, I went to the AT&T store and they tried a couple of things, but nothing seemed to produce the consistent sync I need.  This has been made worse given a recent change in the way we operate.  Our new task management process relies heavily on Calendar scheduling.  So not having my schedule has become a very real problem.

The most cost effective mobile solution for me is the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 eight inch tablet.  While the Galaxy Note phone looks appealing, the cost is more than twice as much ($700 instead of $300) and the monthly charge is was < 1/4 – about $15 a month to add to our business plan instead of $65 for a new phone line.  So here I sit and type. 

It works.  Mostly.

Well, the number one critical feature I needed works like a Champ.  I can get my Google calendar but with one caveat.  The Samsung application does not fully sync with google either.  So the default calendar from Samsung is almost completely useless.  Changes made to the default calendar app do not propegate through the Calendar ecosystem.

Despite that, I now have reliable email and Calendar for the road.  But what about my other critical apps?

The quality of Apps for iOS really seems to outshine Android.  I have not one, but 3 decent Markdown editors on my iPad.  My favorite right now is Editorial because of the power it has to format your markdown into HTML you can paste into web apps like WordPress and so on.  ByWord is another classic editor that is extremely powerful.  What I really like about both of them is

  • They format the markdown in the text.
  • They have lots of options like setting the font size, or saving to dropbox.

These features really make these applications easier to use.  The formatting is like syntax highlighting.  It's eye-candy, does not change the actual content but helps you catch mistakes in real time. 

The options like setting font sizes let older folks like me concerned with eye strain pick a comfortable font.  The linking to DropBox gives me confidence I can get my files later from another device.

On Android?  Not only are there very few markdown editors, not a single editor offers all three of these features.  Writely Comes close, but they don't support indocument formatting.  Writer supports in document formatting, however you are stuck with their "font for 18 year olds", and no linking to an external service.

Given the sheer number of Android devices in the world it is shocking that more apps are not available.

Device Compatibility

So I have my shiny new state of the art Android device, but I kid you not, two apps I went to download right away had warnings that the apps were not compatible with my device.  Seriously?

In another review, the app maker complained that they could not garunatee their app would work in the future.  They already supported 1,200 devices.  With all the changes they had no idea if they would or could support what ever new things came along.

Nice.

Is Android a Viable Market for Independent Develpers?

The other challenge with Android devices is that because they are cheap, so are many of the clients.  Apple users pay a lot.  They expect to.  But this also means they will pay for quality.  I have never seen one, but I would love to see a comparison if Android software developers actually can make any money.  The numbers are huge so I would assume so, but I don't understand why there are so few quality apps that maximize the latest hardware.  Even Microsoft seems to understand that when you release new tech there should be marquee apps to give you reasons to buy the newer hardware. 

This seems lost in the Android space.  My Samsung tablet has an absolutely amazing screen.  And yet most of the games play at a very low resolution and look terrible.  That is hardly what I would think either Samsung or Google would want – their latest tech looking bad.  But I don't know why that is.  I think I take it for granted what Apple has built.

On the surface, they are so similar, but just below that shallow surface is a depth of features and quality that only seems to exist in the Apple-sphere. 

I can go on, the list of applications that are available on my iOS and work flawlessly that I can find no equivalent of on the Android.  There are a few notable exceptions, mostly business and productivity apps like Everynote, and Todoist, but where is Solebon the outstanding solitaire game for iOS?  Or how about Textastic?  And while it gets slammed more often than not, I would love to have Safari on my Samsung.  I long for a browser that does not freeze during page loads or jump around constantly as it rerenders the page adverts during loads.

Bearassic Park

Bearizona

Williams Arizona Gets A Quality Wildlife Park

This past week we met some friends from Australia who were visiting the States for their winter holidays. We were super lucky their travels brought them through Arizona. They had two things on their must see list. You can guess the first one (rhymes with bland ban-yon), but the second one I'd never heard of. “Bearizona!” the email said.

What the heck is Bearizona? I asked Stacy. She'd never heard of it. The $20 per head price tag set us back, but at the end of the day that was the only way to see our friends so we drove into the drive-through-wildlife 'adventure' park.

20140711-182952-66592438.jpg
Now, I could try to make a lot of bad jokes and puns, but in truth, I was duly impressed. I expected Meteor Crater like cheese, and instead we got San Diego Zoo like quality.

Located just outside Williams AZ and surrounded by National Forest, Bearizona charged a premium price but delivered a premium experience.

The paddocks are large and full of wild life. The implied danger of the Wolves and Bears wandering around is definitely a thrill but it is the clever paths that wind through each section that give you more views and angles on the animals.

The main “fort"is really well done. They take wrecked cars, buses, and cargo containers to create massive walls and they cover them in shotcrete then have artists turn the concrete into natural looking rock structures. They look like they belong at Disney.

The park was well staffed by people who obviously cared about the animals. All in all I was extremely impressed and I would recommend Bearizona to anyone. If you happen to be up north it's definitely worth a look.

20140711-183139-66699220.jpg

Under Armor Airplane Shoe – ready for take off

I want this shoe. Who cares if it is practical or not!
20140628-165146-60706947.jpg
Went shopping for new shoes with Matt and we saw this Under Armor display. now Under Armor has some pretty crazy shoes. In fact show designs have become an exercise in the exotic.
20140628-165310-60790744.jpg

20140628-165311-60791028.jpg
I once heard John Lassiter say, “If you have a crazy fabric, make something conventional. If you have some conventional fabric, make something crazy with it. You want to give people something to relate to. When you make a crazy design out of crazy materials people don't know how to connect to it.”

With that in mind we saw some CRAZY fun designs today.

Dont these look like they are Duck Tape?

20140628-165133-60693945.jpg
Continue reading Under Armor Airplane Shoe – ready for take off

I Use This: Wiffle Ball Alternative Smush Balls

I use this: Smush Balls

Wiffle ball alternative: smush brand foam baseballs.

As a baseball coach I am always looking for better tools to prepare my players. For years we have used wiffle balls, but the problem with wiffle balls is
1. They break
2. They hurt like heck if you get hit with them.
3. They can be hard to throw (excessive movement)

A few years ago I came across a product called “Smush balls”. A smush ball is basically a durable foam baseball. It has an advantage over other foam baseballs in that it matches the 9″ circumference of a real baseball but they are durable. They are also slightly heavier than an ordinary toy foam ball which makes them easier to throw. Because they are white, it is easier for the kids to see them coming out of your hand.

These things are just fantastic for pregame warm ups. I suppose you can also use them for indoor batting practice if you have a gym or even a garage. They are not going to damage anything and if you get stung with a comebacker? It is kind of like getting hit with a Nerf Dart – annoying but not painful.

The other advantage of smoosh balls is that you can stand pretty close to a batter when pitching them without fear of getting hurt, and because they are light they will not travel very far. At first hitters get used to seeing a ball coming out of a pitchers hand, but over time my better hitters really focus on driving them. They might not travel far but if a player has good bat speed they can drive these things a good 90 to 100 feet at the 11 & 12 year old age. My fourteen year old summer balls hitters can drive them even farther.

Bucket of Smush Balls
Bucket of Smush Balls

 

How we use them

We keep 4 dozen in a bucket and use the lid of the bucket as a plate. We setup down the foul line depending upon what dugout we are in and then then a coach (usually me), pitches them to a player who swings his game bat to drive them into the crowd of players shagging in the outfield. You can quickly get in 6,9 or 12 pitches per player. When you couple this with a soft toss and a bunt station you can get your players 20 to 30 good cuts before a game starts, enough to get them moving.

I recommend making smush that last station because that is what they are likely to see in a game, someone throwing a white ball at them.

You can find smush balls at http://www.smushballs.com/. I warn you, they seem expensive, however in my experience they last a long, long time. In fact, the biggest challenge with them is that they will pick up dew from the grass at morning warm ups and if you keep the lid on the bucket they can get a little smelly. But they can take years of abuse before they start to break apart.

– Scott

What makes a quality notebook?

If you love fountain pens the way I do, then you love to use them.  In todays electronic society normal opportunities to write are scarce to say the lease.  Everything is a pin code, keyboard, or touch screen interaction away.  Rarely does a chance to put pen to paper exist and often times those occur when someone hands you a cheap bic and a receipt to sign.

As a result, I am a voracious journaler. I highly recommend the late Jim Rohn’s audio book on How to Use a Journal available at audible.com.

What makes a quality notebook for the fountain pen user?

But what makes a good journal? There are a few things (independent of price) that make for a good notebook. Mr. Rohn said he was fond of buying expensive journals because they reflected the value of the ideas he captured there. For me personally, once you buy a $100 pen, and fill it from a $25 bottle of ink, the cost of the notebook is not all that important. The writing experience is important.

So what makes a good journal?
Here are my criteria – aside from side, shape, and page behavior. What I mean by page behavior is how the pages behave when the notebook is open. Some notebooks are quite stiff and the pages like to stand up and get in your way when you are writing. That is realitively easy to figure out in a store whether or not a notebook will behave well. However, how will it hold the ink?

The pages hold fountain pen ink well, in my opinion are pages that do not bleed through and do not feather. What is bleed through and feather? Read on.

Bleed Through

Bleed through is when ink on one side of the paper bleeds through the page and is visible on the other side, discoloring or detracting from the writing that appears there. This happens when the paper is too thin, or is fabricated in a such a way that the ink finds a path through the threads to the other side. Paper thickness is not always a good guarantee of non-bleeding paper.

Until recently my go to notebooks were the moleskin line of note books available virtually everywhere.  In the last year however, they have noticeably degraded their paper quality. Here are two examples of moleskin notebooks bleeding through:

Orange Ink on back page bleeding into green ink on front.
Orange Ink on back page bleeding into green ink on front.
Same color ink bleeds through
Same color ink bleeds through

High quality notebook paper does not let the ink bleed through.

Had I written using a ball point pen, this problem would never occur. With a fountain pen however, this is a problem. High quality pens are often free flowing with ink.

Feathering

The second problem that you can encounter with “cheap” (and sometimes not so cheap) notebooks is the notion of feathering. Depending upon the length of the fibre in the paper. Again, with thick gel, or ballpoint inks this is not a problem. With a more fluid ink like a fountain pen, this can be a big pain. Feathering occurs when the ink follows a thread in the paper and spreads out.

What makes a quality notebook for the fountain pen user? A notebook with short fibers. You want the ink to lay on the page in sharp crisp lines.

The letters of each word splay out with small strands making them look “fuzzy”.

Feathering

You can see in the above photo, taken from an Italian made notebook what feathering looks like. Despite the leather cover, gilded page edges, and thick paper, this notebook suffered from “feathering” due to the long fiber length in the paper itself. I still enjoyed the notebook, but not as much as others where the lines remain crisp and solid.

So where can you find a quality notebook?

Unfortunately they change often. For a very long time, as I said moleskin was extremely reliable. However, recently it would appear that they have wondered away from the quality product they used to make and are delivering a lower quality product at a premium price.

Surprisingly, some of the better values can be found in the store brand notebooks, such as the Barnes and Noble journals and I have been very impressed with Rhodia brand notebooks:

Exaclair also makes outstanding notebooks.

And while it is quite expensive, the best notebook I have found in recent years is the Zequence 360 Notebook.

While this is quite expensive ($38), it is a fantastic notebook that has the unusual ability to wrap around itself. The flexible cover and lay flat pages make this probably the best notebook I have used for a long time. What’s more it comes a high page count so it will last for a long time.

One final bonus. If you are looking for a cheap, almost throw away notebook, something for say writing the draft of a story, you might consider the Staples brand composition notebooks. I have been stunned as the quality of the paper for such an inexpensive notebook. They are smooth, polished, don’t bleed through and they hold the ink well in crisp sharp lines. I highly recommend these for drafts, and well, if you don’t care much about the look then they also make a great journal.

I hope that helps you find a notebook you love, and perhaps one of my recommendations will benefit you.

Conclusion

If you’re going to have a nice pen, you probably want nice paper to write on.