Using the right tools can improve your productivity:
- I use black gel pens with a large to medium point. Right now, I favor uni-ball 207 pens.
- I always carry a pocketbook. I use it to collect current actionable items. There is exactly one active page at any one time. Once it gets filled up, I move to the next page. For example, I might have a three-item list: “prove conjecture A, find an algorithm to solve problem B, and run script C”. If I am shopping and I have an idea, I jot it down in my pocketbook on the active page. I never delete anything, though I strike through completed or irrelevant tasks. Right now, I am using a Paperblanks back pocket.
- I use larger notebooks to brainstorm ideas. Again, I never delete anything: I move from page to page through a random collection of ideas. Most of the ideas I jot down are wrong. I do not worry about it since my notebooks are just collections of ideas. I only work out details on my laptop. If you see me carrying notebooks, I am probably working on some crazy new idea. Right now, I use Winnable Executive Journals.
- I have a white board in my office, but I only use it with visitors, students or passing colleagues. I never work directly on a large board. I never use a white board for serious mathematics.
- Suresh Venkatasubramanian says he uses white boards and livescribe.
- Ragib Hasan says he likes to use large boards so he can step back and look at the overall picture.
- I believe that Peter Turney uses post-it notes where he jots down ideas. I seem to recall that Richard Feynman also posted notes in his office.
Which tools do you use, and how do you use them?