The first time I heard of the notion ‘commonplace book’ was in my rhetoric and argumentation class in my second semester of undergrad. For a while I kept it neatly going, amassing my favourite quotes in a nice overview. When I look back at them now, I smile, because they are still relevant to me today. That is what I think the true purpose of a commonplace book is: not just to amass everything neatly in one big overview as a stock for debates, but also to teach oneself about life, purpose and content. Unfortunately, over the years the Moleskine I used to house the commonplace book has housed lecture notes, ideas for papers, to-do lists, an interview with a Barcelona representative of UCLG, an overview for my French exam, my mother’s account of our 2013 Andalusian holiday, a list of what my potential partner should be like (yes, really, I think I jotted it down because some ThoughtCatalog article suggested I meet that person not too long after that – ironic how stupid things like this actually seem to work out) and a thesis overview. In short, it is a microcosm of my life the past few years. The last thing written in it was a quote again:
Every North-Korean company can design a stainless steel coffee mug
– On why design is not hard, heard during my 2014 summer school in Copenhagen. For some reason I did not write down who spoke this truth. I wish now I had.
As another step in my personal productivity challenge, I have decided to start another commonplace book. From now on, I will again start writing down everything I can which I find interesting whilst reading, listening to music, talking to people or even some of my own insights. I recently stumbled upon a nice explanation of the commonplace book and its merits – Ryan Holiday is a personal favourite of mine on ThoughtCatalog (he also talks about the importance of reading and how important it is to pick up the main messages behind the facts, for instance). I will probably occasionally be sharing some excerpts of the commonplace book here.