How to Take Notes Like an Alpha-Geek (Plus: My $2,600 Date + Challenge)

I take notes like some people take drugs.

There is an eight-foot stretch of shelves in my house containing nothing but full notebooks.

Some would call this hypergraphia (Dostoevsky was a member of this club), but I trust the weakest pen more than the strongest memory, and note taking is—in my experience—one of the most important skills for converting excessive information into precise action and follow-up.

Simple but effective note taking enables me to:

-Review book highlights in less than 10 minutes

-Connect scattered notes on a single theme in 10 minutes that would otherwise require dozens of hours

-Contact and connect mentors with relevant questions and help I can offer

-Impose structure on information for increased retention and recall

I fashion myself a note-taking geek of the first class. How dare I self-appoint myself into this priesthood? Relax, script kiddies. I’m using a much broader definition of “geek,” this one borrowed from “Understanding Geeks” in the current issue of Inc. Magazine (that said, I was recently on, birthplace of the ubercool

“Someone with an intense curiosity about a specific subject. Not limited to tech–there are also gaming geeks, music geeks, etc.”

Here are a few recommendations from inside the world of a compulsive note taker, including both the macro (books and notepad principles) and micro (page features and formatting):

1. Create an indexing system:


Indexing AJ Jacobs’ latest book (click to enlarge all thumbnails)

Information is useful only to the extent that you can find it when you need it. Most of us have the experience of note proliferation—notes on the backs of envelopes, billing statements, hotel paper, etc.–that somehow never gets consolidated. Consolidate and create an index.

My favorite notepads (covered below) generally don’t have page numbers off the shelf. Here’s how you progress with a non-paginated pad:

A. Put page numbers on the upper-right of each right-hand page but not on the left (e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.). I do about 30 pages at a time, as needed.

B. Whenever you complete a page, put the page number in an index on the inside cover (front or back) and a few words to describe the content.

If it’s on the left-hand page, just take the prior page and add “.5” to it. Thus, if you flip over page 10, for example, and write on the back, that second page is “10.5” in the index.


Brainstorming blog post topics and paginating on the right-hand pages

The page numbers in the index do NOT need to be in order, as you’ll be scanning for content, then referring to the page. If you write on the same topic again, simply put that page number next to the previous index entry.

Creating an index like this for non-fiction books I read allows me to refer back and review key concepts in 5-10 minutes without rereading the entire book and searching for underlined sections.


Notes from “The Biology of Sleep” at Stanford University (Notice the bottom-right square allocated to follow-up questions, which is standard)

2. Choose the Proper Pad for the Job:


My current repetoire of active notepads.

Not all notepads are created equal.

This doesn’t mean that one is better for all things, just that you should match the form factor and durability of a notepad to the content.

Below is a photo of several different notepads I use:

-I use the big notebook, which contains graph paper, for larger projects such as future books, TV programs, feature-length articles, LitLiberation, conference panel notes, etc. I don’t want to turn 10 pages to get an overview of all the pieces of a single topic/event. Cons: terrible for traveling and intimidating for interview subjects. The larger the pad, the more reserved interviewees will be.


Notes from my first SXSW (Notice the bottom-right follow-up, in this case, people to contact)


SXSW panel titled “Blog to Book”; Notice the bottom panel and how I number the participants so I can just label comments/notes with each respective number. No spacial guessing required.

-I use the hard-backed red rectangular notebook, bought in Milan, as a default notepad. It is the perfect fits-in-ass-pocket checkbook size. Telephone interview notes, lists (dreamlining, asset assessment, cash-flow projections), projects requiring less than 3 hours to complete, random observations about emotional state or internal problem solving, random silliness like songs (think Adam Sandler), etc. Here is one beauty, written at 4am during an airport layover after a sleepless red eye:

Triple Threat

The fattest midget I ever met

Some called him the triple threat

Ugly, dirty, and smelly yet

The fattest midget I ever met.

Hey… if you’re bound to have rare flashes of insight/stupidity, you might as well capture them on paper.

-The flexible softcover moleskine is excellent for interviews, especially if you are in motion or in the field. I’ve found, however, that if that is the only notebook I carry, I put in material I would prefer to preserve for months or years, and the soft moleskine gets ripped to pieces in backpacks, luggage, and pockets over just a few weeks. There are hardback versions, but they tend to be square-ish and fit poorly in pockets. I limit this format to interviews, contact info when on the run, and temporary to-do/not-to-do lists.

I don’t use digital notetaking tools. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve noticed that some of the most innovative techies in Silicon Valley do the same, whether with day-planner calendars, memo pads, or just simple notecards with a binder clip. It’s a personal choice, and I like paper. It can be lost, but it can’t be deleted, and I find it faster.


Odds and Ends: My $2,600 Date and a Challenge

The $2,600 Date:

So, what happened after I auctioned myself off for literacy fundraising on eBay?

Quite a few of you have asked, so here’s the scoop. The $2,600 date took place this past Saturday, and we had an AWESOME time. I promised I wouldn’t show pictures, but the smart young lass looks a lot like Natalie Portman, so the night immediately started off on a much-relieved foot. She’s a veeeery pretty girl.

Big smiles all around.

Festivities began at the famous Alfredo’s Steakhouse in SF, where Marco made the meal one to remember. The delicious medium-rare Chicago steaks were matched with wine I brought along, in this case, a particularly sentimental and special bottle: Rombauer Vineyards’ Proprietor Selection 2004 Zinfandel (think of it as this wine on steroids).

Bigger smiles all around.

Once full and well buzzed, we set off for the beginning of entertainment: seats 10 feet from the main platform at Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza. It was incredible, and as an acrobatics fetishist, it was in seventh heaven. Hard drumming, aerials, gainers, wheels of death… Here’s just a taste of what we feasted our eyes on:

After Cirque du Soleil… well, I’ll leave the rest of the date to your overactive imaginations! It’s entirely possible nothing happened, but if it had, I wouldn’t be one to kiss and tell. Some things are more fun left unexplained 🙂

The Dream Date Challenge:

What would your dream date look like?

Pick a city anywhere in the world, and for a budget of no more than $500, describe your dream date in 300 words or less (bullet points are fine). My favorite 5 will get at least 12 copies of the 1st printing (it’s now in the 25th) of The 4-Hour Workweek to give away as X-mas/Festivus presents.

Be specific… but go nuts!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 400 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

248 Replies to “How to Take Notes Like an Alpha-Geek (Plus: My $2,600 Date + Challenge)”

  1. I’ll go with Munich, Germany where I live, for the Dream Date. I like things to be relaxed and unpretentious, so there’s a lot of fun but little glamour in this one.

    * start off in a beer garden (simple outdoor restaurant) under oak trees by the river for dinner

    * walk up the embankment past ancient churches with the setting sun behind us bathing everything in a nice orange glow

    * take the Tram lines to the old Olympic centre for an evening of free outdoor concerts by local bands and artists in front of a crowded theatron

    * after this there’s an optional ride on the Ferris wheel if the fair is in season

    If a lady is interested, we’ll have to wait for late spring to get the required temperatures for outdoor evenings. And oh yeah, the budget for this is more like $40.

  2. Hello Tim,

    I really enjoyed this post. I have also discovered that I do much better with note taking when it is on paper. At work I have a moleskin softcover for meetings and other important info. As for the to do list… I used to have it on paper as well. I thought this was the only thing that worked. Turns out it was not the paper factor that made the difference, but the number of times I happened to glance at the list (how often I got reminded of my to do’s in other words). I now use the tool online. It works because I look at my browser about a thousand times a day.

    It would be cool if you also shared your to do list system.

    Cheers from Switzerland,


  3. Very interesting. Could you talk a bit about the style you take notes in?

    I see lots of questions – any reason? How detailed are your notes?

    1. Same question here. Noticed formatting and symbols. Would love to have more insight into your overall methodology, if there is one. Still super helpful for a functioning dyslexic like myself.

  4. This is a great post; I can’t believe we still haven’t embraced the ‘paperless office’ in 2007. But it just doesn’t seem practical! Even I carry a “month to 2 pages” diary for “real life”, though I try and take notes using gmail and notepad. Consolidation is always an issue, because its tedious, and I haven’t really decided on a central repository.

    I might try this dream date in the next few weeks (trying to find a free weekend). I realise there are far more exotic locations in the world, and probably more fun ‘things’ to do, but I like to keep it simple, and I enjoy the time/place/person more than I do the expense/novelty (although novelty is still cool!):

    Perth, Western Australia

    – ferry to Rottnest Island early morning (you know that magic time just before the sun comes up… between about 6am and 7am?)

    – day snorkelling/beaching/general fun 😉

    – lunch at a good french restaurant (there goes the budget!)

  5. Dream Date?

    I never really dated-not properly. I fell in love, and she said yes: we were married at 19. Now, approaching 5 years on, dates are intimate times with the one I love without all the pressure: is she the one, do I look OK, what if I embarrass myself?

    Still, it’s harder to hide surprises.

    Dream dates take preparation: she comes home to candles and something that’s been in the oven for hours. Cabernet Sauvignon and a home-made soup, while warm bread is taken out. Christian Forshaw on the stereo, and the most important part: some quiet, gentle time with the phone off the hook and no talk of plans or bills. Main served, and following is a gentle walk through the town, or along a track. Finally, something chocolatey and gooey (her choice) and a cuppa tea.

    Most of it’s cliche, but sometimes you need the old favourites to make it feel classy.

  6. Sure that should read

    “Thus, if you flip over page 10, for example, and write on the back, that second page is “10.5” in the index.”



    Oops! Right you are. Fixed. Thank you 🙂


  7. I am such an easy date – almost anything which involves exploring, talking, intimate “adventures”, and… I love breakfast. So, just pulling something out of the sky:

    –in a foreign city where I can understand some of the language and read enough to order a menu or comprehend street signs (English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, etc)… (Just having returned from Shanghai – I realize that I like at least knowing an alphabet).

    –wandering the streets poking into shops, watching street shows, maybe nibbling on partial meals, wine, coffee here and there – like taking in a sample of the town. Nothing too loud or crowded: no bars, nightclubs, etc. The weather is cool enough for wandering but not too hot and not too blustery. Talking, enjoying, taking-in the surroundings, deep conversations about philosophy or sidewalks or shoe-leather – everything. Laughing and discovery seems to fit right right.

    –winding up together back in a cozy [homey] location to explore each other also… for the rest of the evening.

    –and the best part, rich fragrant coffee and breakfast in a cafe the next morning, continuing the conversation and feeling deepened by our night’s various explorations of mind, soul, and body.

    You asked 😉

  8. “If it’s on the left-hand page, just take the prior page and add “.5” to it. Thus, if you flip over page 10, for example, and write on the back, that second page is “15.5” in the index.”


    Should that be 10.5? Great post!

  9. My Dream Date?

    This date would certainly be with my fiancee. She is my dream girl, and I’m glad to have found her. So, on to the date.

    If this date could be anywhere, it would be Ireland (she has always wanted to go there). I’d find a nice, little village with that rustic beauty and quiet charm and start things out with a nice meal that I made for her, a nice hand selected cut of steak, grilled medium just for her with her favorite mix of vegetables (carrots, broccoli and nice baked potato with chives and garlic butter). I’d top the steak with a touch of Monterrey Jack cheese with some mushrooms satuteed in garlic butter.

    For a touch of wine, I would go with a 1998 Petrus Pomerol merlot. My father gave me this bottle of wine on New Years Eve of 2000, and I’ve been saving it for the right occasion. If this wouldn’t qualify as the right occasion, no other one will.

    After dinner, we’d take in the Irish country side and enjoy the night. We are both real night hawks and love being away from the lights of the city so we can star gaze.

    To end the night, we’d make love under the stars and lay with one another to watch the sun rise.

    and that my friends, is my idea of a dream date.

  10. My dream date would be in Copenhagen where I live, since I want to see how well she fits in my reality. First we would go shoot a deer north of Copenhagen, then cut it up and prepare it over the bonfire. Then we would do a Crossfit workout to burn off the calories, and afterwards make a shelter in the woods where we would finger-paint each other with nutella all night in the moonlight 🙂

  11. Dream Date:

    – Walk down to the lake and have a picnic together, with awesome homemade sandwhiches of course(made by you).

    – Talk. No distractions or others around.

    – Walk back home to start making a fantastic dinner together. Once the fantastic dinner is made and eaten, let her pick a DVD to watch. While she is picking, do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.

    – Take out dessert, that you made, preferably something chocolate and start watching the movie and eating.

    – Once the movie is over, talk a little more before taking her home(you did pick her up, right?).

    – Remember you are a gentleman, open and hold any door that she goes through.

    -When at her place walk her to her door. Say your goodnights, maybe with a kiss and go back home floating on air.

  12. i guess i must be a cheap date, but $500 to me sounds like wayyyy more than necessary for a dream date… i could turn that into a whole day, a whole weekend (or longer, depending on the country… heading to bali in a few weeks, $500 would last my entire stay!) =)

    i’ve traveled to many romantic places and while paris comes to mind as my ideal setting for a romantic dream date, i’ll have to spend my hypothetical $500 on a day here in my current hometown of honolulu:

    – wake up early to watch the sunrise out at sandy beach on the east side

    – go for a run together around diamond head and stop to check out the early morning surfers getting in a morning session

    – breakfast at the kapiolani community college farmer’s market, sample all the local produce and made-in-hawaii products

    – picnic lunch from diamond head grill (mmmm… grilled portobello mushroom with balsamic jus!)

    – drive out to the north shore via the windward side, stop along the way at the fruit stands, beaches, etc. and make sure to take in all the beautiful scenery

    – grab a shrimp scampi plate from giovanni’s shrimp truck (accept no immitators!) and head to – where else! – sunset beach for another fabulous hawaiian sunset. =)

    all of that would definitely cost less than $100, so we’d have enough to splurge on a stay at the turtle bay resort for the evening.

    this is all assuming, of course, that my dream man comes along with my dream date package. now there’s something money can’t buy… 😉

  13. Dream Date:

    With my beautiful girlfriend Em and in the town that we first met in…Las Vegas. The date begins with a trip for her to the saloon, so she can relax and beautify. Then onto The Pink Taco at the Hardrock–this was the place of our first date two years ago. After much good food and margaritas, I would take her to Cirque du Soleil’s newest show(nice one on that Tim). We would top off the night in a suite with champagne and looking out over the Vegas strip! Maybe this ends with making her something more than a girlfriend 🙂

    This is such a great idea…think I will book it! We will be in Vegas in March for a tradeshow!

  14. I’ll take a stab at a dream date. If you’re not familiar with Utah some of these locations may not mean anything to you, but I’ll do my best to describe. I’m quite fond of (ok madly in love with) my wife, so this date is all day, and the kids are with grandma.

    – Breakfast at the “Over the counter cafe”. A hole-in-the-wall always packed with blue collar workers that serves the best omelets you can get anywhere, period. (Breakfast for two, and tip $30)

    – Skiing at Utah’s best ski resort, Alta. Some may disagree, but though Alta lacks some the niceties of fancier resorts, e.g. Deer Valley, they have the best snow, and it’s skiers only–sorry no boarders. (two lift passes, and cocoa at the lodge, $90)

    – Lunch at Ruth’s (another known-by-locals-only diner, and a short drive from Alta) Patio dining, beautiful view, great food. ($60)

    – Shopping at the Gate Way (an upscale outdoor mall) because my wife loves to shop. Stroll around, buy her something nice. ($100)

    – Laughing, playing, snow men and snow balls at Library Square. (Free)

    – Dinner at the Market Street Grill, the best fresh fish in the state. To-die-for crab dip to start, followed up by wild sea bass. ($100)

    – Coffee desert at “The Salt Lake Roasting Company”. Great fresh roasted coffee, wonderful cheese cake made in house daily. ($15)

    – A night off without kids, downtown hotel. ($100)

  15. I take notes because it helps me remember. Essentially, if I write it down it comes back to me immediately. If I don’t write it down, I’ll never remember it again.

    You’re note taking is on par with Thomas Edison. Here are two links to posts on that discuss similar topics and methods for notetaking:



    Happy Holidays!

  16. Tim, great post on notetaking. Especially useful idea about pagination and indexing.

    I’ve been keeping journals/sketchbooks since my freshman year of art school, over 30 years ago, and at this point have an encyclopedia set of them on my shelf. The pages aren’t numbered, but every entry has a date. They contain drawings, diary writing, ideas for paintings and song lyrics. I got in the habit of using the last page of the journal to keep a running list of books I read; title, author, date completed and stars next to the good ones (4HWW is in there w/ a big star). So I now have a list of every book I’ve read for the past thirty years, which is a great resource for retrieving information I’ve come across, as well as recommending books to friends.

    The journals I use are 8 1/2 x 11 hardcover sketchbooks, available in any art store. The size works for me because it’s big enough for drawing and writing in, and small enough to easily fit in a backpack. I pretty much always have one with me. If by some chance I’m out in a restaurant without it and get an idea for something, it’s easy to make a note on a napkin or something and paste or copy it into the journal when I get home.

    Here’s a post I wrote on Art & Perception about keeping journals.

  17. Ahh, another note taking aficionado. Clearly, Tim, from reading your book, The 4-hour Workweek, you are a note taker. Academics often fall into this category, myself being one of them. The Brainstorming section I supplment with mind mapping. A fantastic way to generate ideas and get the notes organized.

    Professor Click

    P.S. I’ll leave the date challenge to those who want dates.

  18. Ideal Date:

    In New Orleans:

    > You start at the bar at the Loews Hotel. Get Lu Brow (bartender of the year in N.O.) to fix both of you a sazerac (first cocktail in existence). Its a production and its a treat! Lots of great conversation warming up the evening.

    > If the weather permits, walk into the French Quarter. Walking allows bodies to interact that sitting does not. The wonderful lights and old shops encourage us to believe we are in our own world.

    > Make our way to Bayona. A restaurant of extraordinary delights. Its adult and warm and beautiful. Oysters, sauces, rich meats/seafood and great wine are topped off with great desserts. We take our time and every table in the place is turned over 1.5 times while we are there.

    > Then we walk and talk some more in the Quarter. Maybe window shop on Royal St. looking at art, antiques and jewelry. We exchange views about various purchase options and learn more about what each other likes.

    > Then we walk out of the Quarter to the Windsor Court Hotel. Because a dream date deserves a dream destination.

    > Next morning, we get up and walk back into the Quarter to Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets. The quintesential Nawlins breakfast. We people watch and enjoy the final moments with one another.

    > We part with a full list of wonderful moments and memories . . .or maybe we decide to do the whole thing over again tonight.

  19. @J

    Nice thinking on having her relax and beautify in the saloon…i’ll have to find one of those my wife likes and see how it works for her.

  20. Dream Date:

    I LOVE boutique hotels. I simply cannot get enough of them. When I lived on the east coast, my favorite was The Glenn in Atlanta. For birthdays and anniversaries, I used to take my ex-boyfriend to this hotel. I would buy the “Sleep With Me” package which includes dinner, one night’s accommodations, and adult “play-time” items already waiting for you in the room. The rooms are incredibly beautiful with glass encased showers and bathtubs right there in the bedroom. Definitely a seductive but highly romantic get away. The food is American fusion. The restaurant is called B.E.D. and you actually hang out on queen sized beds as you eat and drink cocktails. There is also a beautiful bar on top of the skyscraper with music and a beautiful night view of the glowing city of Atlanta. You can definitely have an evening at this hotel for around $500 all inclusive. But, for really special occasions, splurging for the Jezebel suite or one of the Dream Suites is absolutely worth every damn penny. I have many precious memories at that hotel. It certainly made for many “dream dates”.

    My dream date now would be to discover a new boutique hotel together. The hotel would not need to expensive, just interesting and out of the ordinary. We would head out to dinner somewhere fun or fancy. It wouldn’t matter. I just love exploring cities together. We would definitely have to catch a live band as I am a musician myself and can never get enough live sound. After a fun night on the town, we’d head to the room and have a little more fun on our own. A scheduled breakfast by room service the next morning would close the date (certainly not the first dates! hahaha) wonderfully.

    That would be my next dream date once the right guy falls in my lap again.

  21. Dream date:

    This one is easy. The $500 buys my wife and I a babysitter for the weekend while we go wander aimlessly through Paris and rediscover one another. An added bonus would be the magical emptying of the Louvre to give us full run of the place to enjoy its contents at our leisure.

  22. Finally I have some sort of expertise in an area… The trick for a first date is not to come across to desperate to impress, but to leave a lasting impression of originality. Quite the balance to calibrate.

    New York City:

    Head to Chelsea and hit some golf balls at Pier 59 to loosen the mood and get the blood flowing. Nothing says unpredictable as much as a woman hitting some golf balls in her heels (or vans =) )! After half hour, lead yourselves over to the funky, laid back “The Red Cat” restaurant at 227 Tenth Ave.

    One review:

    “Best lighting for romance; great New York atmosphere- upscale casual elegance. Artsy but unpretentious. Amazing food and the bartender can make a Rob Roy. Some wondeful wines on hand and if you need help choosing between a Rioja, Malbec or syrah”

    After the meal, head for a coffee/hot chocolate at Starbucks, take and sip on your 5-minute stroll to the “Frying Pan” at Pier 63. An old boat, that has been brought to Chelsea Piers where it has been docked for a few years. The Frying Pan has been renovated inside for a cozy relaxing conversation, but it’s usually hired out for parties on weekends, but weeknights is usually relatively open. If too packed, you can sit on the deck and watch boats go by in the Hudson.

    This date definitely fits my vibe and won’t run you over $100. Spend the rest on the next few dates, because this date will guarantee to get her impressed. (If you have a engaging personality!) If you really want to spend the $500, then head for a private helicopter tour around NYC to top it off.

  23. I know that after your date your mind is on adult romance, but there are other sorts of dates you can also call ‘romantic’. I have several times met an adult child of mine in a city (London, Barcelona, New York City) after a long(ish) absence. We wander the city for a few days, talking, looking around, eating well, visiting museums, and talking some more. We connect in a profound way which is not possible without that sort of intensity. (This plan combines the virtues of quality time with quantity time and full immersion.)

    I look forward to creating these sorts of memories with my boyfriend as well, when we can. The point for me really is that it is less about the specific activity than it is about the intensity and focus of the connection.

    Oh: and great info on the note-taking. It is a better system than I now have and I will adopt yours ASAP!


  24. Table Rock Lake (near Branson, Mo)

    Find someone to stay with the kids and rent a pontoon boat for the day at the lake. Get out early in the morning when the sun is coming up and the water is still smooth and explore the lake looking for a small, quiet cove to anchor up. Spend the day relaxing, talking, looking at everything we’ve done together over the last year and coming up with a list of what we want to accomplish in the next one. We have four small kids (10 and under) so some time during the day just being together but quiet and reading or holding hands would be nice too. Picnic type lunch, swimming, diving from the bluffs, etc. Later in the afternoon we’d pull up and dock up at the restaurant at Campbell Point. It floats right on the lake. We’d have dinner there, watch the sun go down over the hills, and listen to the band that night.

    $150.00 – Pontoon Boat Rental

    $60.00 – Fuel

    $50.00 – Lunch

    $100.00 – Dinner

    $100.00 – Baby (kid) sitter


    $460.00 at most

  25. We would start in Windhoek, Namibia by renting a van from my local friend. We’d connect a fridge/freezer to the van and store plenty of water, food & wine.

    We’d take our camping gear: sleeping bags and tents..

    Heading south we’d take the untraveled roads in the desert until we reach a little known place that was colonized by the Germans in the late 1950’s. The place is beautiful because there’s nothing around for hundreds of miles, except a local tribe whom you can barter with for precious stones.

    We would set up our tent and stay there for a few days, or until we got bored. The place is beautiful. There’s a nearby mountain which contains a pool that collects rainwater, where you can take a bath or do laundry.

    During the day, we would collect precious stones simply by looking around and digging into the ground a bit. We’d find all sorts of amazing things. At night, we’d start a camp fire and invite the local tribe to join us..

    Believe me, you’ll never forget this place..

    Here are the pictures:

  26. I’ll assume I’m already in the city and don’t have to spend my money to get there.

    I would surprise my sweethear with dinner on the balcony of the penthouse of the King Solomon hotel in Jerusalem. It overlooks the Mount of Olives which is lit up beautifully by a full moon.

    I would have a romanitc but traditional dinner served (cheaper than some fancy cuisine)and aske the hotel to prepare a flamed coffee drink (and someting stronger added)with great ceremony in front of my love after our leisurely meal.

    After the wait-staff had left I would read my date love poetry from the book of Solomon from the bible. Some of the most beautiful and erotic love poetry written and best of all written by the man the hotel is named after.

    I would then unroll a cushy blanket and fall asleep with my beloved under the stars.

    In the morning I would wake my beloved with thick sweet coffee and a fresh pastry.

    PS Haven’t been to Jerusalem for twenty five years so my apologies if my memory doesn’t match the facts. 🙂

  27. It’s not the most unusual itinerary, but the date would be pretty special….

    Friends have already heard this from me (Six Degrees of Separation, you never know…). My ideal date: I’d like to invite Keanu Reeves to a Maple Leafs game, then to a jazz club afterwards, maybe The Rex. It’s a great place on Queen Street in Toronto. If the date were in Toronto this would cost me a few bucks as I’m from the Philadelphia area (trying to stay in your budget), but if it were an away Flyers/ Maple Leafs game we could do dinner, too, maybe at the excellent Pasion in Phila. It doesn’t take much more than that to figure out if two people have anything to say to each other.

    Can’t happen if you don’t say it out loud, right?

  28. Having been to some of the most beautiful places on Earth: China, Thailand, a few mind- blowing national parks, I still believe that the perfect date doesn’t depend on the scenery, the food, or being dazzled by something you can buy; all the matters is the other person and proving to them that they are special. On a cold night in North Dakota….

    We’ll start by grabbing his favorite cup of coffee at a local place and surprising him at work. Then we’ll drive downtown to the tiptop of the parking garage (one of the tallest buildings in town) and watch the sunset fill the sky with flames while our favorite metal band plays in the background. After we’ll take a walk around the quaint, tiny downtown blocks while the stars start to peek through their black blanket. While watching our breath and pretending we’re fire-breathing dragons we’ll wander over to his favorite dinner place and get the barbeque nachos we always share plus a few drinks (they’ve got his import beer.)

    Now with the five hundred minus food I’ll have done a little shopping before hand. We’ll walk out of the back of the restaurant and voila a bicycle built for two waiting for us! (But it’s only rented) We will then bike back to the bike shop where he’ll see a brand new bike waiting for him. We’ve been sharing mine so he’ll be ecstatic. From there we’ll head to this place on campus that has a fireplace and a huge mosaic hanging above. I’ll whip out a picnic basket from nearby with grapefruit, banana bread and volcano sushi (first date/long story). We’ll munch to our hearts content, dream wild dreams and talk about all the marvelous things we want to do together with every moment we’ve got.

  29. Dinner in the North End at a quiet Italian restaurant. Following good with great is a 1st base line, 1st row, Boston Red Sox game. This offers the lady and I ample opportunity to get to know each other and share in a Red Sox victory. Cap the night off (if it went well) with some drinks at a relaxed bar and then who knows.

  30. I already had one and here it reads!

    I had just asked this amazingly beautiful girl, working as a hostess at a prestigious fondue restaurant on a Friday night date. She accepted and I set the tune to 7pm pick-up with 8:30 reservations. That Friday I was running errands as usual; I picked up an outfit at Nordstroms and groomed myself with a hair-cut and manicure. Driving home to shower, with my clothes in the back I decided to stop off for a cup of cofee. Just as I entered the doors at Starbucks I thought to myself “S*@t!, I locked my keys in the car!!F%$k!” I immediately ran across the street to Target where I purchased metal coat hangers and immediately ran all the way back in panic! I attempted for twenty minutes to “jimmy” open my car door with a coat hanger before finally calling a locksmith in desperation. Sixty dollars later and 6:52pm I drove like a maniac home to shower and drove to pick her up. Miraculously I made it to her work less than ten after!

    I drove to the Venetian in Las Vegas where we ate at Canaletto, one of their Italian restaurants. The food was exquisite and her beautiful blue eyes glowed in the lighting of the restaurant. After dinner we spent a few moments walking about and sharing gelato, until I surprised her by taking her on a private gondola. That night we shared our first kiss on a gondola under a bridge, while our boat rower was singing romantic songs in Italian.

    Also I wanted to add that I have read “The 4-Hour Work Week” several times and I am such a huge fan of your work and lifestyle. Next month I’m leaving the 9-5 work and pursuing my passion for entrepreneurship while keeping my college classes. See you on top 😉

  31. Because I feel that the most meaningful parts of any date are the unorchestrated bits, I really can’t answer the question in the way it is posed.

    Any date that has a prayer of evolving beyond a mere social contract must take on a life of its own.

    Eye contact, spontaneous laughter, affection and a sense of seeing a previously unrevealed aspect of the other person are key – whether it’s a first date or an event within the context of a long-term relationship.

    Further, if the whole goal of the perfect date is to make the rest of the world disappear – even if only for a moment – doesn’t worrying about the other details seem unnecessary?

  32. @ malia – I was just in Hawaii and did almost all of what you describe as the perfect date, just by myself. haha. I’m aiming to spend a full month or more in Hawaii in 2009 because my vacations there, though short, are always memorable and every day feels like the perfect date (with myself!) hahaha

    Giovanni’s – Yummo!

    My dream date: I grew up in Florida and I love the ocean with all my heart. I would rent a sailboat for a few hours with the $500 and toast the sunset or enjoy early morning mimosas on the way to go snorkeling or fishing. If the young lad had a boat, then I would just supply a fine dinner on board with catered service and butler of some sort. God, I need a boyfriend.

    Would love the books Tim! I am planning to give 4HWW to friends as gifts for the holidays, and the copies would help me stay on my track to a debt free life! :o) I talk about the book so much to friends and family, that I figured my friends should read it just to keep up with me!

  33. Take a drive with me down the old highway that leads from Flagstaff to Phoenix. We’ll stop first at the lookout point before driving down the switchbacks, hearts in our mouths as we stare at the awesome wall of rock on the right, and the mind-boggling drop to the left, hundreds of feet down into the canyon below.

    Sedona is beautiful, full of red bluffs, kitschy boutiques and a laid-back atmosphere. Nearby, lava has carved chutes in the rock, now filled with water, and they serve as a natural water slide in Sliding Rock Park. We’ll stop there in town, buy some good wine and a few culinary treasures to feast on, then double back to the secret places between the switchbacks and the tourist traps—down in the canyon where the creek winds its way through the trees which hide everything else from view.

    There is an old pump house there. Nothing more than ruins, a few old pipes and the gurgling water of the creek are the only sights and sounds. Nothing but green beauty all around.

    That’s where you’ll find me and my husband Dave and our baby daughter this coming spring. A little bit of paradise in a simple picnic in a beautiful patch of nature.

    He’s never been there, my husband, and I haven’t lived in Arizona since I was a child. But its fierce beauty calls to me reminding me of childhood summers spent visiting friend’s vacation homes there in that canyon.

  34. My dream date would be with my wife in the city she’s dreamed of visiting…Paris. We met in high school and the first time we spoke I told her she was the one and we would get married. We’ve been together 10 years now, married 5. We work together and are inseperable. On this date in Paris and we would have a nice dinner at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. From there we would simply walk the streets of Paris and appreciate the sights and sounds. We always love just being together, talking about nothing. My dream date would be doing this in a place she’s always dreamed of seeing and just being together.

  35. Given a likeminded female accomplice, I would double-dog-DARE her to contest me in an Iron Chef style cookoff. Rather than have a secret ingredient, we would present to a panel of judges (mutual friends, of course) ethnic dishes from a land far-a-way.

    As I am a completely crap cook, we’d each head to the nearest airport with our $500, 2 passports, and an overnight bag. After booking the first “last minute flights” we can get our hands on, we would head off to our randomly determined destination and get cooking classes from locals for 2-3 days.

    Upon returning, we would have the judging ceremony and I would bribe the judges in her favor with whatever money I have left (jerks, you’d figure the food would be enough).

    This might be a bit heavy for a ‘date’, but I think any girl you can get to agree to this just might be a keeper.

  36. You wouldn’t think of Washington, DC, as a romantic destination, but that’s where my wife and I met so it has romantic associations for me. We’d start the morning at Rock Creek Park watching the Potomac bubble over the rocks before it becomes all sedate and respectable further downstream. Then I’d take her to the Washington National Cathedral and the spot near St. Joseph’s Chapel where I asked her to marry me the first time (it didn’t “take” right away, but it was okay and things worked out fine a few months later). If it’s still there, we would have lunch at the Greek place in Arlington where we went on our first date.

    After that, we could go back into the District and catch the Amtrak express to New York City. (Amtrak’s no Orient Express, but the trip would give us lots of time to talk, read, watch a movie together on an iPod, or just watch the scenery; besides, flying would blow our budget.) We’d get to Penn Station with plenty of time for some window-shopping before heading over to hear Andrea Marcovicci sing Rodgers and Hart at the Algonquin. We’d have the prix fixe dinner there before the show, and dessert at the Stage Deli afterwards.

    After that … night in Manhattan? We’ll think of something. We’ve already paid for round-trip Amtrak tickets so we can sleep on the train back south.

  37. For starters my dream date would be with my beautiful wife of 17 years, Tess. Our date would occur in late Fall so we could experiece the Monarch Butterflies of Pacific Grove. We would fly in a rented Cessna 172, that I would pilot, from Sacramento(where we live) to Monterrey. After arriving we would drive a rental to Pacific Grove and visit the Monarch Butterfly Reserve, sipping some espresso while enjoying the mid-morning sun and a picnic lunch of world cheeses, breads and sausages. We would then make our way to the beautiful art galleries and market streets of Carmel where would we would then enjoy each other’s company in an early dinner at Chianti Ristorante accompanied by a bottle of 1993 Clos du Bois Merlot that I bought many years ago. After dinner I would take her to Lulu’s Chocolates to drink coffee and enjoy a masterful chocolate creation. At the end of the day we would fly back to Sacramento with the sun setting behind us and reminisce about the perfect day we just spent together and how our love grows stronger each year.

    Airplane Rental-$104/hr(including fuel)@ 2.5 hrs. – $260.00

    Rental is for actual hours flown

    Car Rental – economy car (unlimited miles) – 29.00

    Gas – 5 gallons @ $3.29/gal – 16.45

    Espresso – 2 cups of fine espresso – 8.00

    Picnic Lunch – breads, cheeses and sausage – 34.00

    Dinner – Best Italian dinner anywhere – 105.00

    Dessert – Coffee & Chocolate – 16.00

    The perfect date with my beautiful wife – Priceless

    That is a total of $468.45, leaving $31.55 for any error in math.


    It starts out on a cool morning in NYC on the corner of Wall St & Broadway. A warming cup of simple coffee with half/half. The location, simple but comforting: Borders(great books and awesome atmosphere. With my dream date girl we talk there for about two hours and let the hustle and bustle of Wall St settle down. We then move locations, we take the L train to Brooklyn. In the moist air of Brooklyn we walk through the streets and notice all the various things going on, from businesses to kids playing in the street. It is about noon now and we head back to downtown Manhattan. We arrive at Battery Park, and take a long two hour walk through it, discussing our dream vacations and planning out our weekend.

    Next, we go to the Statue of Liberty and check it out. We admire its great presence and are then motivated to go for a run through the park. After the intense workout we go to hotel and prepare for the evening plans(can’t give up the details of the hotel part!! :)) We then go to Tribeca Grill( Robert DeNiros Restaurant) and enjoy 4 glasses of cabernet followed by an exquisite salmon. We then decide to venture to Gotham Comedy Club and break into some humorous times. We watch Orny Adams live and can hardly sit still because we are laughing sooo loud(we almost get kicked out for being too loud) Afterwards, we retire back to the hotel for some wine and some chocolate……….

    What a great day this has been, a concoction of simplicity with some mild extras!!!!! AH ALAS……………..THE DREAM DATE!!!!!!!

  39. Dream Date would be the wife and I at a nice winery, located in the Tuscany country side. Spending some time touring the winery and walking the vineyards. Then inside to be greeted by Mario Batali where under his guidance he teaches us the preparation of his favorite dishes that we match with wines from the winery. After cooking we enjoy the food on an outdoor patio overlooking the vineyards watching the sun sink beyond the horizon, while trying a few more wines.

  40. Tim, I have not read your book, but I have visited to skim your posts a few times. I find this post on note taking very useful. Thank you for sharing the tips.

    Since you are inviting members to contribute on dream date and because I haven’t read your book, I am going to contribute.

  41. I am very fortunate to be in love with the most beautiful person I know. We recently got married three times, yes, three times !

    We both enjoy variety of tastes from around the globe and like to immerse ourselves in cultures foreign to us. Therefore, I would like to take her out on a surprise date to one of the quaint neighborhoods in Toronto for a gastronomical and cultural feast. This is how it would go:

    1- I would welcome her home from after work with couple stems of fresh and sweet smelling Lily’s, from our neighborhood florist. Price ………$5

    2- Gift her a beautiful necklace from the Tenthousand Villages. Price……..$12.

    3- After the flowers and necklace, we leave for a quaint neighborhood, say Korea town, riding TTC using a day pass. Price……. $8.50.

    4- Walk around the various stores and shops in the neighborhood looking for a place to eat. Scoping out a place teeming with locals satiates our sense of discovery. Given that this is a special date, I want back up, therefore I will reserve a table at our favorite restaurant in Toronto – Pomegranate. Price…………$60

    5- After dinner we will head over to Review Cinema at Rocensville and catch a movie from France or Sweden.Price……….. $20.

    6- Head back sipping organic dark hot chocolate from Delights. Price…….$8

    7- Get home and crawl under the sheets !. Price……Priceless !

  42. Great last post.

    My dream date: of course the date itself comes secondary to enjoying the company the person. Considering this a prerequisite, my dream date could take place in nearly any medium-large city which I know well and like. Rome, Madrid, Chicago, New York, or Sao Paulo would all be perfect candidates (these are cities I know, although I am sure many others could potentially qualify.) It starts meeting for a cup of coffee at a nice, calm place (in Chicago, my experience on which this post is based, it was intelligentsia– Three hours of scintillating conversation and people-watching go by in what seems like the blink of an eye. The coffee shop is followed up by a walk through the city, enjoying its unique scenery, its people art, and whatever else comes to mind. Everything is spontaneous–we may stop for a movie or show, but it will not be planned out. Spontaneity is essential. Dinner, after six to eight hours after meeting up will be at a romantic location (again, for me, it was geja’s cafe The place s come across randomly, but ends up being perfect by shear luck (of course any place would be perfect because of how well youve hit it off). And whether or not anything happens can again be left up to the imagination–but either way, you are both sure you want to see each other again.

  43. $500 is a LOT of money. Here’s the context: My boyfriend is Australian, I’m Malaysia. We both go to uni in Australia together but during the holidays we go back to our respective houses.

    Here’s what I’d do with that money:

    * Book a return ticket from the Gold Coast to KL on AirAsia for Mark – that wouldn’t even reach $400 I reckon.

    * Get Mark here to Malaysia on said flight

    * Take him out to enjoy all sorts of Malaysian food. Malaysia has the BEST food in the world HANDS DOWN. You can eat a lot for less than $10 a day. (this is possibly where the rest of the money goes, lol)

    * Go to Borders in Berjaya Times Square, which is MASSIVE, and lounge around in the bookstore. Or go to Payless and revel in the masses of cheap secondhand books.

    * Eat.

    * Take him around the pirated CD shops as a lark. MS Office for $5! If he wants to buy any CDs that’s his responsibility…*whistles*

    * Bring him down to the Kota Tinggi waterfalls – I grew up going there very often, and while it’s not necessarily impressive it’s still beautiful and good fun.

    * Eat more food!

    * Take a ferry to an island (Tioman? Sibu?), rent a chalet, snuggle up together

    * Celebrate the next day with MORE FOOD.

    Easily doable.

  44. I already had my dream date. This was a lot of fun. We hadn’t known each other long and we’d just arrived at the stage of going out on real dates. We picked a night, and for days I thought about how to make it really stand out. I picked out flowers, cards, music. I got into it, and the whole time, treasured each act from a very centered and relaxed place.

    That night, I picked her up at her house and asked her to grab a silk scarf I’d given her a week before. Blushing, she complied, and we hopped in the car. We drove North along the Pacific Coast Highway with the sun setting slowly over the edge of the Pacific. As we approached LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) I drove up the exit ramp. She looked at me surprised.

    “Are we flying somewhere?” she asked. I just smiled.

    As you leave Sepulveda Boulevard there, a ring of cylindrical towers lines the exit round. Each tower changes color, shifting gracefully from purple to green to red to yellow, and rising into the orange sky with a Los Angeles sunset, the night was approaching that ironically beautiful L.A. romance that most of the world assumes is impossible. I pulled the car into the “Departing Flights” lane and made my way up to the curb. I asked her to stay in her seat and came around the car. I helped her out and asked, “Are you ready?”

    She nodded. And I tied the scarf around her eyes as a blindfold. I put her back in her seat and, I drove around for forty-five minutes.

    We talked, told jokes, and got comfortable. Every once in awhile, at a stop-light, someone would notice that she was blindfolded. I’d smile knowingly back at them without making a big deal. I didn’t want her to get self conscious.

    I took a couple extra turns to be sure she had no idea where we were going. Once we arrived, I parked close to the front so she wouldn’t have to walk too far blindfolded. I helped her across the parking lot and realized as we approached that there was trouble. The show was closed for a private exhibit. I walked my date to a short wall, placed her hand on it and asked her to wait.

    This was the final weekend for this particular show, and it had come up in conversation more than once. I knew I didn’t have another chance to get us in there and I couldn’t believe, on a Friday night, the last weekend before leaving town, they were closed for some hot shot. But its LA and people can pay for anything they want.

    I walked over to an attendant who had caught sight of us. She saw my date, standing against the wall, demure, frail, attentive, and the attendant’s face fell. “You went to a lot of trouble for tonight, didn’t you,” she said. I nodded, hoping against hope. She reassured me, patting my forearm. “Wait right here,” she said.

    I went back to check on my date. She was nervous but promised she was having fun.

    “I can smell the ocean,” she said. “It’s nice.”

    Moments later, the attendant came back. “I might get fired for this,” she said. “Follow me,” and she silently ushered us into the front door.

    Now, if you haven’t seen Ashes and Snow in person, it is breathtaking. Calling it a temporary installation is misleading. Constructed of staggered and stacked recycled tanker containers and draped with thick tarps, it is an eight story environment with incredible sepia prints of people dancing with leopards, elephants, lions, and warthogs among other things. The music alone is haunting. It’s website barely conveys its intensity

    Most often, when visitors arrive, there are families and older couples, children and school groups milling around looking over each other seeing what they can and moving on.

    On this particular night, I helped my date inside the entrance, positioned her to perfection, and slowly breathed a gentle kiss on to her neck.

    The music swelled as I removed her silk blindfold and she gasped in amazement. She was haloed in this fuzzy glow, the sound of ocean wind brushing up against the building as humpback whale songs and lapping water played through the sound system. Amazing. I’ll never forget it.

    Shortly, Peter Faulk and family, the private group who’d had the place closed, joined us as we moved slowly through the exhibit. They didn’t seem to mind this young couple on a romantic date walking a few paces behind them.

    [I’d gone there planning to spend the $40 it would cost for admission – serendipity covered it].

    We took our time looking at each piece. Gorgeous. She was taken with the beauty and thoughtfulness of it. Hours passed, and when she was ready we thanked our attendant friend and made our way back to the car.

    At that point it was time for dinner. I’d e-mailed around that week asking for great meal suggestions and a friend from San Francisco asked her best friend who works for Tom Hanks’Playtone productions who suggested Japanese Bar-be-que at NanBanKan.

    [$40 – 11330 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90189, (310) 478-1591, we both loved it.]

    We got there, enjoyed a fantastic meal and a wonderful conversation. One thing that was great about it was that I took that silk scarf and tied it around her wrists so that it would be up to me to feed her dinner. It added a whole new element to the meal, and the evening. From there we went to…

    It got really good after that.

    My favorite part about the night is that I made all these plans and they very easily could have fallen through. Instead, by asking for a little help at the right moment, and being VERY spontaneous, we had a night we’ll never forget. A night to rival all others. I’m glad to be reminded of this night. It’s time to go out and make more nights like this happen.

  45. I already had my dream date. This was a lot of fun. We hadn’t known each other long and we’d just arrived at the stage of going out on real dates. We picked a night, and for days I thought about how to make it really stand out. I picked out flowers, cards, music. I got into it, and the whole time, treasured each act from a very centered and relaxed place.

    That night, I picked her up at her house and asked her to grab a silk scarf I’d given her a week before. Blushing, she complied, and we hopped in the car. We drove North along the Pacific Coast Highway with the sun setting slowly over the edge of the Pacific. As we approached LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) I drove up the exit ramp. She looked at me surprised.

    “Are we flying somewhere?” she asked. I just smiled.

    As you leave Sepulveda Boulevard there, a ring of cylindrical towers lines the exit round. Each tower changes color, shifting gracefully from purple to green to red to yellow, and rising into the orange sky with a Los Angeles sunset, the night was approaching that ironically beautiful L.A. romance that most of the world assumes is impossible. I pulled the car into the “Departing Flights” lane and made my way up to the curb. I asked her to stay in her seat and came around the car. I helped her out and asked, “Are you ready?”

    She nodded. And I tied the scarf around her eyes as a blindfold. I put her back in her seat and, I drove around for forty-five minutes.

    We talked, told jokes, and got comfortable. Every once in awhile, at a stop-light, someone would notice that she was blindfolded. I’d smile knowingly back at them without making a big deal. I didn’t want her to get self conscious.

    I took a couple extra turns to be sure she had no idea where we were going. Once we arrived, I parked close to the front so she wouldn’t have to walk too far blindfolded. I helped her across the parking lot and realized as we approached that there was trouble. The show was closed for a private exhibit. I walked my date to a short wall, placed her hand on it and asked her to wait.

    This was the final weekend for this particular show, and it had come up in conversation more than once. I knew I didn’t have another chance to get us in there and I couldn’t believe, on a Friday night, the last weekend before leaving town, they were closed for some hot shot. But its LA and people can pay for anything they want.

    I walked over to an attendant who had caught sight of us. She saw my date, standing against the wall, demure, frail, attentive, and the attendants face fell. “You went to a lot of trouble for tonight, didn’t you,” she said. I nodded, hoping against hope. She reassured me, patting my forearm. “Wait right here,” she said.

    I went back to check on my date. She was nervous but promised she was having fun.

    “I can smell the ocean,” she said. “It’s nice.”

    Moments later, the attendant came back. “I might get fired for this,” she said. “Follow me,” and she silently ushered us into the front door.

    Now, if you haven’t seen Ashes and Snow in person, it is breathtaking. Calling it a temporary installation is misleading. Constructed of staggered and stacked recycled tanker containers and draped with thick tarps, it is an eight story environment with incredible sepia prints of people dancing with leopards, elephants, lions, and warthogs among other things. The music alone is haunting. It’s website barely conveys its intensity

    Most often, when visitors arrive, there are families and older couples, children and school groups milling around looking over each other seeing what they can and moving on.

    On this particular night, I helped my date inside the entrance, positioned her to perfection, and slowly breathed a gentle kiss on to her neck.

    The music swelled as I removed her silk blindfold and she gasped in amazement. She was haloed in this fuzzy glow, the sound of ocean wind brushing up against the building as humpback whale songs and lapping water played through the sound system. Amazing. I’ll never forget it.

    Shortly, Peter Faulk and family, the private group who’d had the place closed, joined us as we moved slowly through the exhibit. They didn’t seem to mind this young couple on a romantic date walking a few paces behind them.

    [I’d gone there planning to spend the $40 it would cost for admission – serendipity covered it].

    We took our time looking at each piece. Gorgeous. She was taken with the beauty and thoughtfulness of it. Hours passed, and when she was ready we thanked our attendant friend and made our way back to the car.

    At that point it was time for dinner. I’d e-mailed around that week asking for great meal suggestions and a friend from San Francisco asked her best friend who works for Tom Hanks’Playtone productions who suggested Japanese Bar-be-que at NanBanKan.

    [$40 – 11330 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90189, (310) 478-1591, we both loved it.]

    We got there, enjoyed a fantastic meal and a wonderful conversation. One thing that was great about it was that I took that silk scarf and tied it around her wrists so that it would be up to me to feed her dinner. It added a whole new element to the meal, and the evening. From there we went to…

    It got really good after that.

    My favorite part about the night is that I made all these plans and they very easily could have fallen through. Instead, by asking for a little help at the right moment, and being VERY spontaneous, we had a night we’ll never forget. A night to rival all others. I’m glad to be reminded of this night. It’s time to go out and make more nights like this happen.


    MacEwen Patterson

  46. My dream date would actually be extremely simple.

    It would involve an extremely comfy bed, good music, delivered food or have a chef cook it in-house.

    Mostly just laying around, looking into each others eyes, and having an extremely interesting conversation about our passions and thoughts on life and society.

    I could have said, sky diving, or skiing, or anything else but I find that the best moments are usually those when you are just laying there with someone you really like having a great conversation.

  47. Thanks for all these helpful hints. It is very interesting, I have been reading a lot of different books, and one thing I have noticed is the common thread of writing. Anthony Robbins and Richard Branson both have been individuals that have written a lot in their lifetimes. This was a kickass post and I hope if you ever write another book, you include this blog in it.


    Jose Castro-Frenzel, tx

  48. Best software for note-taking and organizing: Ultra Recall.

    Hands down it blows away anything else, and I’ve tried them all.

    Only problems I have with it is that it’s Windows-only, and it’s a *little* bit crash happy (but never any data loss) 🙁

  49. Wow. Great post. And unbelievable. I just realised this week that I should be taking better notes of all the books I’m reading and bought some notebooks, so this post has come at the perfect time for me, thanks!

    When and where did you learn this skill? Before university? Did someone recommended it to you? Thanks for telling us how you do it!

    Also Cirque de Soleil came up in conversation this week, my friend is going to see it in Nagoya JP in a couple of weeks. I’m going to catch the Tokyo show next year, it looks amazing! It must have been a great date.

    The dream date…

    I need to think about this! Here’s one idea, you might be able to tell I’ve estimated some of the prices… 🙂


    Surfing on Bondi Beach (rental/teacher $100)

    Shower/massage/relax together ( $100)

    Japanese dinner for 2 ( $100)

    Catch a show at the Opera House or, if nothing you want to see is on, a comedy club is usually a good idea. See if you’ve both got the same sense of humour… ($100)

    Buy some really really nice flowers and chocolates! yummy. ($100)

    Hmm Is that the best I can do? I don’t think I’m as romantic as the other people writing comments. :/

    I also wanted to put scuba diving with sharks in there but I’m not sure where you do that (some aquariums do it), and it might put you off the surfing a bit. 🙂

  50. Dream date: I would pick Esfahan, Iran.

    I would start off by the historical siosepol “33 bridges” section of the Zayanderood river that runs through the city.

    We would ride a paddle boat down the section of the river ($4) towards the “pole khaju” section, where we would get off and go into the tea-shop, overlooking the river.

    We would have some traditional Persian tea ($3) and possibly hookah (less than $1) while we appreciate each other’s company and watch the river and the city light up as night falls.

    From there, we would take a taxi in towards the center of the city ($6-$7) to watch a play, possibly about the struggles of the youth between “traditional” culture and contemporary culture ($4-$5).

    After the play we would go to a late-night dinner at one of the city’s fanciest restaurants for a cliche candle-lit dinner, where we would have gormeh sabzi (traditional Persian stew), dough (yogurt soda-very tasty), and akbar-mashti ice cream for dessert ($20-$40) total. During the course of the delicious meal, and free-flowing conversation, we would invite a violinist over to play at our table, for a small tip ($2 max).

    From there, who knows where the rest of the date would take us…

  51. Not to be the one who is a fool, here, but:

    WHY exactly did you need to take notes on A.J. Jacobs’ new book?


    Hi Josh,

    For historical notes — it contains a lot — and the ideas/thoughts the content triggered for me. Much of my “notetaking” is capturing insight the material catalyzes for me.

    Hope that helps,


  52. Our dream date stretches the budget:

    Dinner at The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s signature restaurant in the Napa Valley. Guaranteed to excite your senses and passions well into the night.

    (Nine course tasting menu $240/person)

  53. Normally I would have my personal concierge design my date and implement my date for me, but I guess I’ll step up to the plate for this one 😉

    Since I’m already in a relationship with a wonderful gal, this makes things a little bit easier. My dream date would take place on Christmas Eve in Rio de Janeiro. Melissa and I would spend the early evening shopping for toys, snacks, clothes, and gift wrap as well as searching for empty cardboard boxes. After spending $450 on the shopping spree, we would hit up a small food cart for dinner ($10) and take the gifts and dinner back to the hotel. We would spend the remainder of the evening listening to Christmas tunes on the radio and gift wrapping. The real magic happens the next morning. After a local and delicious breakfast ($10), we would hitch a taxi to Cidade de Deus and spend the morning passing out the Christmas gifts at a local school and spending time playing the local children. The remaining $30 would be used take a local family from the favela out for groceries or a Christmas dinner.

    That, my friends, is my dream date.

  54. Dream Date

    Christmas Eve 2007 – Full MOON!

    Full Moon, Snow covered fields, 10pm

    1 horse drawn sleigh, big warm blankets

    a thermos of the richest most chocolatey cream based cocoa, a couple of still warm cookies.

    a wamly mittened hand in mine

    the gentle whisper of the sleigh over the snow and someone to quietly giggle with in the

    beautiful night.

    Listening to carols being sung far enough away that you can’t see them being sung, only hear the gentle echo of the beautiful voices.

    I think that could be had for $500, but what price can be put on a memory like that?

  55. Performance with full orchestra and chorus of Karl Orff’s Carmina Burana in whatever city it can be found, preferably in Europe, possibly his home town of Munich. Followed by a lovely dinner of course.

    “O Fortuna” live….someday.

  56. you me

    something adventurus, like sailing

    wind in my hair, salty baths and sunshine

    a calm and lonley bay

    red whine and bbq

    fresh fruit

    time to sit and meditate or draw/write

    blanket on a silent beach

    stars on black sky

    my skine red from the sun, legs tired after discovering that beautiful island we passed

    then kisses if applicable


    thanks for challenging me to think about that… yum!

  57. As much as I hate it, I still feel I have to write a lot of digital notes especially when I’m doing research and writing in my laptop. Two main reasons for digital note taking: search function and copy/pasting.

    I’ve tried everything from MS Notes to Notezilla but have always gone back to the simple Notepad. But now I can’t do without PersonalBrain (from which does everything I need it to. I wish it was faster, though.

    Anyway, I still have a paper system mostly a modified GTD structure with tons of 3×5 scratch paper, a looseleaf binder for daily tasks and spiral notebooks for projects.

    Thanks for your tips, Tim. Will test how they can help me.

  58. Dream date, Portland, OR, early summer, with my husband:

    The Japanese Gardens ( considered by many to be the finest outside of Japan. We spend several hours sketching and photographing – everything is always beautiful and it’s a wonderful place to just be. My date buys me a book on origami and papers at the gift shop. With luck, we’ll be able to enjoy an exhibit in the pavilion (like the history of the kimono).

    Next, we hike the trails and enjoy a picnic lunch in the woods nearby. I’m thinking salad with grilled salmon and veggies, with a light lemon-dill dressing. Served with some Brioche rolls and a nice wine (a lightly aged Australian Riesling would work well, though I normally prefer reds). I like the contrast of the rough surroundings (heavy blanket on the wooded forest floor) with the refined fare.

    After the contemplative morning, I think the afternoon should be more stimulating. Perhaps a bike ride along the Willamette or an airboat ride on it – and odds are there will be some kind of festival or event going on. If it’s during the Rose Festival, there’ll be a lot of opportunity for live music right down on the river. My date and I will be starving after the light lunch so we’ll get changed for a lovely supper at Salty’s. North of downtown on the Columbia, Salty’s is less frenetic than the downtown scene. We’ll have a riverside table reserved. They’ll probably have a musician in. Everything at Salty’s is wonderful, but I know we’ll start with the coconut shrimp and oysters on the half shell. My date and I won’t worry about propriety or reserve, but will just stuff ourselves silly. Afterward a moonlight stroll along the beach.

    Then home to relieve the babysitter and off to bed. And our daughter won’t wake up even once all night. 😉

  59. Tim,

    Great post, man.

    All right, here’s the date. Since I live in a ski-resort town, you know it’s time to have fun in the snow. I’m going to pull some strings with some choice contacts and hook up a specactular winter wonderland experience.

    -Start off with two hours of private ski lessons from one of my clients, a fantastic female pro skier.

    -Head to the summit house and warm up with a microbrew and an Apres ski pizza special while listening to a local folk/blues band and hangin’ with the ski bums.

    -The sun sets around 5 PM this time of the year, so we’d bundle up and then meet with a close friend who owns a dog sledding business. We’d get out on the open field at sunset with the peaks of Glaicer National Park in the background.

    -We’d head back downtown to my favorte steak-house where we’d have filet mignon prepared medium rare with steamed broccoli, and baby ret potatoes. I’d also bring a bottle of my favortite Zinfandel, a 2005 Hullabaloo (with a picture of an old-school strong man on the front!)

    -We’d end the night sitting by the crackling fire finishing up our wine and talking about everything and nothing.

    Word. 🙂


  60. I am really the light weight of note taking. I take notes and throw them away with no exact timing or agenda, but they have to be done and resolved. As far cataloging, I surely would use the same archiving method, but by far I would definitely not let it come to volumes.

    Now, your date was a blast huh? I am happy you met a muse winner. Oh but the fire went higher huh? Ring of Fire…

    My dream date in a city in the world and under $500?

    It would be Tango in Paris! A delicious vegetarian meal for me and lots of affectionately shared touching and dancing cheek to cheek. Lots of silliness, a plethora of intellectual subjects we share, and absolutely, bringing the wine along with one long stem red rose (thorns carefully taken in front of me) would make it very, but very special for me.

    Speak of stimulating my mind ya!



  61. Cambria, CA (Central Coast)

    gas money (L.A. R/T) = $65

    rental for circa-’69 (!) Playboy-After-Dark cabin on ocean = $200 (includes tax & services)

    dinner at Robin’s = $65

    bottle of local Pinot for postprandial hanky-panky = $15

    hanky-panky = free! (BYOB/GF, please)

    balance to liberal charitable institution and/or starving artist’s fund = $155

    (Can also serve as mutual xmas present)

  62. I share your love of effective note-taking, but not your format; have you tried mind-mapping? Linear notes work for some people, but by using techniques to show the organic connections between ideas make notes far more intuitive to refer back to.

    In Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping book, he makes the distinction between note taking (the linear copying of a sequence of statements) and note making (mentally processing information and laying it out in a considered format highlighting the interconnectedness of concepts).

    From when I started the practice a few years ago, I have found that my linear note-taking habits have been completely replaced, as I find standard notes too text-dense to scan quickly. By clustering ideas around highlighted topics, I can review the content of an entire meeting’s notes in seconds, without having important points getting lost down the page.

    As for notebook choices, the practice has pushed me towards Moleskines with unlined pages, which I usually use in “landscape” orientation as I find it easier to work on pages that are wider, rather than taller.

  63. Whew there’s a lot of great entries here! Well, I want to tell you about a hidden gem here in exotic Raleigh, NC 🙂

    Seriously, the new Umstead Hotel is probably the nicest (and one of the only) five-star hotels on the East Coast outside of New York, and is, of course, much more accessible and quiet.

    I would dream of:

    a couple’s massage ($190) and

    dinner at Heron’s (guessing $150)

    *and* I can get you a room discount – normally they start at $345, I can get one for $139.

    Well, I’ve always stunk at math, I think I blew the budget already! Oh well, now you know about my dream, let me know if you ever want to use my discount 🙂

  64. My dream date would be a day of all my favorite things – my husband and son, a movie, sailing, tapas and dancing.

    First we would spend the morning with our son at home, drinking coffee, eating croissants and mangoes and playing golf in the backyard. Then we would take Riley to his grandmother’s and cruise up the freeway to Sydney with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers blaring out of the stereo.

    Our first stop would be Darling Harbour to join a sailing charter around Sydney Harbour for the afternoon. We would sail under the Harbour Bridge, around the Opera House, past Goat island and out towards Port Jackson. The sun would be shining and there would be a slight breeze, just enough to catch the salt off the water and gently throw it up into our faces. I love an “ocean shower”.

    Afterwards we would be super relaxed, but it would be too early for dinner so we would walk up into George Street, Sydney and catch a movie. Ideally this would be a smart and well written action flick a la “The Bourne Ultimatium” and we would snuggle in the dark with popcorn and kiss all through the trailers.

    Now it would be time for a a little tapas at Miro’s on Liverpool Street. This is where my husband proposed to me 10 years ago and I still love the colourful cellar like appeal of the place and the awesome food and potent sangria. I would definitely have my favorite dish of berenjenas fritas con ajo. Yum!

    And lastly we would wander back to Darling Harbour to Bar Rumba for some salsa dancing to set the mood for the rest of our date once we got back home…

    Oh, and the ideal scenario would have to include a sleep in the next morning in my own glorious bed before going to pick up my son. Perfect.

  65. This is based on a date I set up for my girlfriend’s birthday about three years ago. She still talks about it (we’re married now) as the perfect Seattle day, so it worked pretty well, though it’s not necessarily a good first date—it’s very long and predicated on the idea that you really enjoy talking with each other.

    Location: Seattle, WA

    • Start with lunch on the water, say at I Love Sushi (much better than it sounds) on Lake Union ($70)

    • Check out the new Olympic Sculpture Park.

    • Head to a matinee at the Seattle Rep.($70), which specializes in mesmerizing productions that really take you out of yourself, like The Secret in the Wings (the show we went to) and Aurélia’s Oratorio.

    • Stick around the Seattle Center afterward. Do great cheesy stuff like go up the space needle ($32) and win her a stuffed animal at one of the silly carnival games (you can definitely win if you spend, say, $30).

    • Follow with dinner at Elemental—hip, fun, and welcoming (the owners’ goal is to make you feel like you’re at a dinner party). Dinner for two with extraordinarily well-paired wines is at most $200 after tax and tip (and generally lasts 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours for us).

    • Continue to Gasworks park overlooking Lake Union; walk dinner off for a while. Bring a picnic blanket and a discrete setup to share some awesome small-house champagne (one of the best experience-for-your buck wine categories in the world IMHO), probably the 1990 Rene Collard ($60 from K&L and an absolute knockout of a wine), though if you were short on cash there are several killer options like this for half the price.

    • That should end the “public” section of the date…

    Total Cost: $462 incidentals.

  66. My dream date: true story.

    Just get in the car and go.

    The rules:

    -no advance planning.

    -grab a map, close your eyes, and point. If you have never been there before, and its within reasonable driving distance, then head in that direction.

    -avoid freeways. There is more scenery to enjoy that way.

    -bring all of your best music, a camera, and a tent just in case.

    -if something interesting comes up, go explore it.

    -do everything on a whim.

    This is an absolute fail proof recipe for an amazing adventure. Even if it turns out horribly, you have a great story to tell. And, if something amazing happens, you will have pictures to prove it 🙂 Living without rules, or plans for even a few hours while enjoying a change of scenery has to be the most refreshing and invigorating thing you can do.

    This is a dream date I have enjoyed on a few occasions – and it usually costs less than $500 dollars. Ive gone camping, stayed in motels, ended up at the gay pride parade in New York City once. I used to wisk my friends away on an adventure whenever they were having a bad day, and we had at least 10 hours before we had to be back to work.

  67. To me a dream date is all about being fun and memorable. The location I’d choose is Playa del Carmen, Mexico in the late spring. The weather that time of year is perfect: a soft breeze, bright and warm, but not staggering.

    Start off the date with a swim in the ocean, following up with sharing a public shower along the beach. Even clothed, any guy can appreciate this.


    Next, I’d take my date for some Mayan cuisine at one of the beachfront restaurants

    $70 (including tip and drinks, should safely cover lunch)

    After lunch I’d cut back into town and find a decent henna tattoo stand, which virtually litter Playa del Carmen. I’d have my date and I pick each others tattoos to make things more exciting. Luckily the henna fades away within a few weeks so you’ve got a crazy memory without having to regret it later on.

    $160 (Henna tattoos range from $20-100 each. I’m assuming my date and I get some amazing ones for a total of $160.)

    From there I’d go to one of the many jewelry stores along the avenue. Fortunately silver is dirt cheap in Mexico, although still good quality and occasionally has a unique design. I’d help my date pick out a simple piece of jewelry, probably earrings, a ring or a necklace.

    $40 (With some good haggling, you can get as much as 50-70% off the price tag of jewelry. That being said you can get a girl a pretty decent piece of jewelry for $40 or less.)

    Now it’s siesta time: a nap on a hammock in the shade. After waking up and getting ready we’d finish off the night with dinner and salsa dancing at my favorite Cuban restaurant.


    Total Money Spents: $350

  68. Dream date: (but i’ve already had it)

    – A ride on the motorcycle to enjoy some mid summer night breeze (i live in Italy, Naples, pretty hot here in the summer)

    – We got to Ennio Morricone concert in a beautiful outdoor theatre, all in white marble, with a perfect starry sky above us

    – After that we probably ate something, but i don’t even remember that

    – My bf told me to hold my eyes closed and leaded me in a secret place

    – When i opened my eyes i was ontop of an old roof, above the sea, with candles lit all over and some strawberries and wine 🙂

    It was the most romantic thing i could ever imagine.. i continue shivering if i think of that!!

  69. Perfect date for no more than $500…

    Paris, in late fall/early winter when the sky is gray, the trees are almost bare and the leaves are still in piles on the streets.

    Pick “her” up around 5:00pm and walk to a local cafe.($0)

    Sit outside and drink coffee (or hot chocolate) ($15)

    Talk while looking into “her” eyes.($0)

    Take a walk, holding “her” hand, to the Eiffel Tower and arrive at the top just before sunset. ($40)

    Watch the sunset and Paris (the city of lights) come alive. The chill in the air adds to the clear sky and the ambiance of the moment. (Priceless)

    On the way down, buy “her” a keyring to remember the moment ($15)

    Ask her where would she like to eat, leave the everything left from the $500 as a tip for the waiter, even if it is just a pastry and coffee.

    walk “her” home

    On “her” door step, kiss “her” goodnight

    walk home by yourself and dream of what could be.

  70. BTW, I’ve tried palms, laptops (all kinds of software), mini-laptops, voice recorders, pens, and more. I’ve used a rollerball and a simple notebook for years. I need a new one every 3 months.

    I also date each page when as I write on it.

  71. Dang, #58 stole my idea. I kept wondering when someone would recommend a tasting menu with a world-class chef. It’ll take you hours and you’ll be talking and experiencing the whole time. It can be an amazing experience that really, really brings two people together. He said Thomas Keller, but the same could be said for Charlie Trotter (or could have been said ten years ago. I don’t know about Trotter today).

    Having said that, I did have a dream date long, long ago, while I was an undergraduate. At an out-of-the-way religious college, here’s what we did.

    1. Started off with a free performance from one of the student theater groups on campus. I can’t remember what the play was, but it was something intended to be thought provoking. It was a nice way to break the ice on a first date. We had something to talk about after the play.

    2. Walked to an amazing tree I know. Perhaps only certain people will appreciate real tree-love, but this was a magnificent tree and had everything you could want in a locale: quiet, secluded, protected, hushed, happy.

    3. We climbed the tree. It’s an easy tree to climb and we didn’t go terribly high. It was fun in the getting-back-to-childhood way, and it helped liberate our emotions. Everyone feels free climbing a tree: you talk about dreams, fears, hopes. You tell stories — real, fantastic, crazy stories like you wish someone told you as bedtime stories when you were a child.

    4. Sit in the tree long enough and you’ll stop talking about you and start talking about us. It takes (took) a while, but it happened. When we came down out of the tree, we were us.

    5. We made out under the tree for a while. Is that what kids these days call it? Not the naked stuff, but the extended kissing: is that still making out? Am I too old to participate in this conversation?

    6. Walked slowly to a still open cafe for a slice of pie. We were still talking, but occasionally lapsed into happy silence together. Smiled a lot. Shared one slice of pie.

    7. I walked her home, kissed her while standing on the porch and left, both of us wanting more and appreciating the anticipation of tomorrow.

  72. Dream Date Awful Limerick:

    I want to feel more alive along with my guy! Let’s go to Hawaii…shall we…go to Maui?!!!

    Let’s swim with dolphins where they’re normally at play, see natural art of waterfalls and be taken over by sin…that’s how I’d end my day!

    OH! Don’t forget the food…wonderfully delicious, on a picnic of course, with plumeria flowers and warm-hearted bliss.

    My Hawaii Haiku:

    scented raindrops fall

    Pele is dancing dirty

    hugging fire and heat

  73. I can’t believe you went on a date with a Natalie Portman look-alike. Not only is she my favorite actress (smart choices on movies and excellent acting) I also happen to have a huge crush on her 🙂

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  75. Hi Tim,

    * I wish this post had been separated into two–there are a few questions about your note-taking style that got lost in the comment-sauce of Dream Dates

    * How do you manage to organize, store, and review your notes frequently enough for them to be useful?



  76. You’re young–female, in your prime. I’m older. You have many dreams/visions/hopes/wishes for your life.

    I too, have many unfulfilled dreams. Youthful dreams of Love, happiness, success and eternal security. That feeling of knowing that I’m safe, loved and secure and that you’re young, strong, capable, sensously passionate, attracted to me and that we will absolutely experience the ultimate success in any terms you want to describe it, for both of us…, That’s a dream…, my dream… when we’re talkin about the ultimate,… before the lights go out.

    That would make me feel REAL GOOD and I would want it to MAKE YOU FEEL REAL GOOD TOO!

    Feeling is one of the most important things in life. That’s mostly how we experience it. (Life, that is.)

    Feelings,…You know, they make movies in your mind. We, (you, me and everyone else), conjure up movies in our minds… we imagine things as we wish they were or as they weren’t. We’re mostly either toward something we want or away from something we don’t want.

    My “girl” is toward seeing, feeling, thinking, imagining, dreaming the beautiful. Even though, the real world is a duality, she perfectly balences on the perfect edge, neither negative or positive while recognizing and respecting both. She is my perfect mate because she sees all this stuff even when I don’t. She helps, supports, protects me when I need it and she always knows when that is.

    SHE is my lifemate, the love of my life.

  77. My current dream date would start its next day somewhere in Nevada, a few hours east of Reno. It’s coming on sunrise, and we’re packing up the tent, having slept by Pyramid Lake – beautiful light coming off the lake, reflecting the sunlight – the last body of water before the alkaline wasteland and technicolor dust storm that is Burning Man.

    The bicycles are are loaded and packed, the last leg from Chicago to Black Rock City, and we’re only 30 miles away – piece of cake now, but it’s been a hell of a few weeks. Starting a 1900 mile journey, including a little jaunt across the Rockies, in late summer isn’t exactly easy, but then, why should it be? I’ve wanted to do this journey for years. And I finally found someone nutty enough to do it with me.

    Most of my dream dates involve the completely random; I’d meet my biking companion a few weeks before departing, which would be great timing since I’ll otherwise do this by myself, and being a single female riding across middle America is occasionally seen as nuts. Riding together would be interesting – the first 3 days of learning to pace eachother, the tedium of Iowa, hitching a few rides through the Rockies, plus the ability to split packs and gear – people will look at you like you’re crazy, but the hospitality would be incredible. I’m willing to bet that a nice farmer or 2 along the way would also provide some tasty meals and a barn in which to lay one’s head.

    Since I already have my bike, and presumably someone nutty enough to ride halfway across the US with an almost stranger would as well, and I’ve got some camping gear, the biggest outlay of this date would be the Burning Man tickets themselves. These would be about $200 each, so $400 for the perfect date morning.

  78. Just an fyi about the “softcover” cardboard moleskine you use… it’s actually referred to as the cahier.

    They’ve started producing a more durable softcover notebook that is as thick as the hardcover version. (Kind of like their old volants).

    Might be more useful to you instead of the cahier… assuming it is actually more durable.

  79. Great minds think alike: I’ve been using flexible Moleskines for a year or so, after it became too hard to find Mead side spiral notepads and a few other previous brands I liked. Flexible Moleskines are skinny and bulk up the pockets less than anything I’ve used before. Thanks for the all the notetaking tips.

  80. I’ll take my dream date to Bombay or some other city in India, take a taxi in the indescribable mess that is traffic there, get trashed on cheap wine and argue with the driver that it’s a clock, not a metre after having taken a tour of the city from the back seat.

  81. I use freemind [] for my note taking. Frees me from the book-keeping. Also, I can add to my notes from different sources without changing anything. Its pretty neat.

  82. Tim!

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this blog! You take notes exactly like I do, with the same notebook (soft Moleskins) that I do. But I’ve been punishing myself recently by trying to go digital (Microsoft OneNote) because I can never find anything, and stuff gets all mixed up together. You’ve solved that with the index system and using different notebooks. BRILLIANT! You should see the mountains of post-it notes, spare sheets, and thousands of word documents…this system is far better. Thanks!

  83. My dream date would start midmorning in San Francisco, with a scenic drive through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, after which we’d stop at Telegraph Hill to enjoy the views from Coit Tower and browse & buy at Robert Sexton’s gallery . Then we’d have lunch (dumplings!) in ChinaTown and catch a cable car down to the waterfront, where we’d do a little window shopping before taking the ferry over to Sausalito. We’d browse a few stores and indulge in an afternoon snack, then take a beautiful drive to the Muir Woods. After a lovely walk through that cathedral of trees, we go back to Sausalito and have dinner outside overlooking the water. We’d cap the evening off with another ferry ride back to SF, where we’d pick up the car and maybe head for a moonlight drive to Half Moon Bay or Carmel…

  84. Very odd mix of note taking and ideal date on this page. It’s so funny how people wax all detailed about their “ideal date”. Like we care people! 🙂 Anyhow, I liked the suggestions about note taking. I agree that paper is the way to go. There’s less chance you’ll get bogged down obsessing about the medium and get on with the ideas. I would say that it’s probably better to just stick with one journal type for everything… something that sits on a shelf, and fits into a large pocket. I number my journals J1, etc. and refer back to entries in previous journals when needed. I can always refer to p150 in J5, for instance. The other thing that’s important is a good pen. I can’t stand throwing away a gel pen every day. So, I bought a refillable fountain pen for $30. At least I’m not filling landfills with perfectly good pens that have just ran out of ink. Such madness really.

  85. Barra, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. February (Important)

    There are more extravagant places in the world, but nothing comes together with more beauty and options as Brazil.

    1. 11 AM: We start the day off with an all you can eat sushi lunch. Amazing sushi (Brazil has the second highest Japanese population in the world), all the price of 100 Reais. Or about $50.

    2. 12:30 PM: We climb a mountain to go hang gliding. We float beautifully above the hills and can see the hundreds of miles of ocean. In fact that’s where we land. $100.

    3. 2:00 PM: We take surf lessons as we land on the beach. Neither of us can surf, but we have a great time in the 75 degree water laughing. $50.

    4. 4:00 PM: We get changed, and catch a Capoeira class. Free / $10.

    5. 6:00 PM: We go to a Churrascaria (Brazilian BBQ / Steakhouse). We drink wine and eat delicious, wonderful all you can eat meat. Tons of is. Inclusion of the wine. $100.

    6. 8:00 PM: If it’s February (which we say it is), we take a cab so we can watch the amazing Carnival Samba performances. She swoons at the sight of the costumes and performances. $25

    7. 2:00 AM: We go to a Baile-Funk party. An all night Dance Party with thousands of your closest friends. We dance all night long until we are long past exhausted. $20.

    A 15 hour date, all for $355. Everything is cheap in Brazil. I spend the last $145 on contraceptives because I showed my date the best time she has had in her entire life and we begin a life together. Best date ever.

  86. Dream 1st date? Drive to a winery on a Saturday afternoon with a picnic lunch. Eat it, have wines paired with the lunch and learn about one another. Total cost: less than £10; on the offchance the lady doesn’t like wine, she’s not worth dating for me.

  87. Dreamdate:

    A challenge for nature loving geeks

    Place: Norwegian mountains in the late summer, the Hardanger plateaus

    Taking the train or bus to a decent place, cycling to a certain place, and all hiking from there.

    Includes: Enjoying nature, romantic sunsets, talking whole nights through, bathing in the cold mountain water, eating self-made food. Clothes getting really dirty, challenging the organizational, technical and social skills. Having fun singing silly songs, and seeing all gadgets running out of battery…

  88. Personally I don’t get along with notes, myself…but mostly because I’m pretty dang scared of them. I might have to try some of the techniques – (just about) everything else I’ve read so far in your blog makes good sense, so I have this sneaking suspicion that this is helpful, as well…

    As for a dream date, I decided to keep it domestic. Not because I don’t like to leave the borders of the good ol’ US of A, but mostly because I haven’t found a place more appropriate for a dream date than I note below.

    The city: Knoxville, TN (yes, seriously; keep reading and you’ll see why).

    The time: Ideally fall, but anytime will do for this dream date.

    It all starts with a nice dinner. Not our “typical nice” dinner [Applebees], but a “REAL nice” dinner at a Brazilian churrascaria in the heart of the city. After a nice bottle of wine and stuffing ourselves comfortably full with the spectacular dinner and a piece of chocolate-raspberry cheesecake we step into a stretch limo.

    The next hour or so – in the limo – is spent with soft background music, a bottle of champagne and our feet up. Perhaps singing along to the music [who can resist some impromptu karaoke solid gold 80s hits?], maybe getting/giving a foot massage, maybe something…else [we’re married – who am I kidding?!?! :)].

    When we reach our destination we’ll step out, sit on the top of the limo and just look out over the vision of a lifetime: the trees of different varieties and colors of the Smoky Mountains. An hour there as the daylight ends and the sun sets and casts its red and orange beams over the foliage of eastern Tennessee, and then back in the limo for a peaceful ride home.

    Total cost:

    $ 150 – Dinner at a Brazilian churrascaria

    $ 275 – limo ride for a few hours

    $ 50 – Deductible for the visit to the ER when she faints out of sheer amazement at the sight of the Smoky Mountains in the fall

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  90. Tim, Take me on my dream date with you! You get to pick the location – but my dream date would be to take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise, somewhere over a beautiful countryside (could be Wisconsin or Italy) but anywhere I can stand in awe at God’s creation…After the balloon lands, a picnic brunch, a walk along a stream, lots of great conversation…and all the romance nature has to offer. The dream isn’t always about what you do, but who you’re with. =)

  91. Hey, I was really getting into the content of the audio book (4-hr…), when I popped in disc 3 and heard “Crocodile on the…by Elizabeth Peters”. It’s good info and I need disc 3! What should I do?



    Wow, that is the oddest thing I’ve heard about the audio yet! I would definitely contact whomever you purchased it from, as you need to get a replacement, to be sure.

    All the best,


  92. Pingback: Janet
  93. My Dream Date:

    Bombay, India

    The date would start after I finished my Rock show with my band, the Gods Of Now.

    (at least 200$ in my pockets)

    My lady would of course be warmed up by the live performance and we would carry on

    the festivities to a typical Indian restaurant where we would have the whole works of the Indian food culture. (10$ US)

    Next step would be to slowly digest our feast while enjoying a hooka pipe along with some moroccan tea ( heck! why not blend the cultures a bit )

    Discussion would go from how good the hooka is to how complex our two brain hemispheres are. (brought by me = 0$)

    The night would surely end in a slow and intense tantric communion until we both collapse with big smiles on our face as we would let the warm Indian wind dry our exhilarated bodies. (priceless)

    what a night!

  94. Dream Date:

    Tokyo, Japan, where I met my beautiful wife, but we haven’t been in more than 10 yaers.

    Saturday evening on a balmy summer night there.

    – Start with a quick drink at a small alley in Shinjuku or Harajuku. Let the atmosphere and welcoming nature of the faces guide which hole-in-the wall bar to be in.

    – Walk, leisurely, holding hands among the crowds (emphasis on no rush) through the neighborhood to a 2nd floor restaurant with a counter that serves raw fish delicacies, and perhaps cooked foods like robata yaki or yakitori. Again, eat slowly, leisurely, enjoying every moment. Only eat at a place where he counter people are engaging and interested in talking. A neighborhood place might be as good.

    – Make sure, in strolling, to stop along the way at any galleries passed, windows of interest, to chat with anyone who wants to be chatted with, generally enjoy the time.

    – go to a rooftop beer garden or bar, to enjoy the lights of the city and the night air. bask in the warmth and glow.

    – decide, based on the mood, whether to

    * Go to a fancy coffee shop

    * Stroll by some water

    * Take a quick train ride to Yokohama bay and stay there for the night, to wake up near Chinatown where we can have dim sum

    * Go back to our Inn (we’d have to be staying at an inn) and enjoy each other’s company in more private surroundings.

    Pleasant, intimate among the crowd, nostalgic, mixing urban excitement with touches of beauty, food and taste, and special meaning for both of us.

  95. Very interesting to read about your note-taking habits.

    What I’d really like to know is how you manage, keep track and assign tasks to your outsourcers… Do you use any online project management app, or rely on email only, or keep notes in one of your notebooks?

  96. Dream Date, here it is

    in Los Angeles, South Bay..

    .dream dates must have an element of mystery & unknown

    .my date is here as sunset, we drive to the heliport on 120th Street

    .we get on a helicopter, fly toward Catalina Island, it’s almost dark..

    .the city lights and the fading sun: we fly over the ocean and.. we arrive to Catalina, on one of the beaches,

    .get off the helicopter at the sound of jumgle drums, while fire dancers spark up the air..

    . barbecue on the beach, watching the dancers

    . return helicopter flight to Los Angeles, unforgettable view of the city at night..

    A bare foot sort of date..

  97. Have you tried TiddlyWiki?

    It’s a free web-based wiki where all your notes are contained in a single html file (so you can use online or offline and it’s small enough to be kept on a USB stick so it’s portable).

    It works much like the brain works: in a non-linear way. So you end up with a network of linked notes.

    If you’d like to give it a go then try a hosted one on

  98. Tim,

    Exactly what I was wanting. However, I have another question. Do you find any value in journaling your daily activities and thoughts surrounding them. Not just notes on meetings, books, and interviews. Something more chronological… I hate to call it a diary… but you get the gist of what I’m thinking.


  99. Dream Date: 2 islands – 1 country

    Assume we’re in Chora, Mykonos.

    Spend morning gathering food for the day/evening–wine, tarmasalata, pita bread, baklava, etc. plus a few other items we’ll need for spending an evening under the stars on a sacred island.

    Take ferry to Delos, mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis; now a sacred island. Spend day exploring what remains of a once-powerful city.

    Find a good place to hide from the on-site island “guardians” so we can stay on this sacred island for the evening.

    Spend evening in candlelight, under the stars sharing spiritual insights, adventurous life stories and other romantic experiences as a couple might conjure up in such a situation.

    Take ferry back to Chora the next day (ok, so the tix were for yesterday…whatever!)

    2nd stop: Santorini, Fira Town

    Take ferry from Mykonos to Santorini–3 wonderful hours on the Mediterranean Sea!

    Check into Theoxenia Hotel ( Enjoy wonderful shower!

    Rent motorcycle and explore Santorini, including remains of beautiful city on cliff peninsula, relaxing on volcanic sand beach and diving into mystical caldera.

    Return to hotel and get ready for a delicious dinner at a wonderful restaurant on the edge of the caldera. Marvel at the beauty and mystery we are gazing at together on this intoxicating island while sharing Greek delicacies and wine.

    Stroll back to hotel…walk into our most romantic room…and close the door!

    2 Ferry tix to Delos, food, etc: $60

    2 Ferry tix Mykonos to Santorini (RT): $100

    Hotel: $150 (includes VAT & breakfast)

    Motorcycle rental/food in Santorini: $70

    Dinner: $100

    Total: $480

    Dream date with dream man: Priceless, of course! (where is dream man, by the way?)

  100. Dream Date:

    Wake up at sunrise and meet for breakfast on the river where they pronounce eggs as oeufs, and the coffee is strong enough to chew. After two to three cups of caffeine powered conversation, speaking about dreams and inspirations, we eventually digress to fart jokes and throttle the other customers with uncontrollable laughter.

    At this point we take a vote and decide it would be best to take our private party to the sand dunes where we can go for a good morning swim. The beach is uncrowded this early in the morning and we can wear as much or as few clothes as we like.

    I ask her what her superpower is, and if she knows the many uses for a towel. I quickly describe how it works wonderfully as a cape, tie it on my neck and encourage her to do the same. We run up and down the beach like superheros on BodyQUICK until we collapse exhausted gasping for meaning. After lying in the sand reflecting on that experience and complimenting each other on our superpowers we jump into the cool silent water. Swimming until my thoughts of ‘she is so amazing’ monopolize my thinking and bring enough courage for me to swim over and kiss her.

  101. I’m going to suggest a new tool for you to check out. It doesn’t completely replace the pen/paper system, I still use both, but only as a temporary medium. Electronic documents such as Word are tired, and in need of a much more useful paradigm. They’re no different than 8 ft of shelves full of notebooks other than they can create that index automatically. In my opinion, the greatest innovation Microsoft has come out with recently is OneNote. the reason I like OneNote is because it allows me to put all my content together. i can have separate notebooks, within which are multiple sections, each section with multiple pages.This allows me to easily see all my content together, at whatever granularity I need. But the thing I love about it is the versatility of the content I can put into my notes. I can drop other files into the note, I can take a screen snapshot and paste the image, I can take audio recordings and drop them in as well. You say, “i can do that with a Word document!” But what you can’t do in Word is search that content. In OneNote, I can limit the scope to section/notebook/all, and when I search for the term Ferriss, it will find text, images with the text embedded, and assuming the audio is lacking a strong accent, it will even find audio clips where people have said Ferriss. So even though your naming system for the notebooks, sections, and pages will provide most of the index for you, the search feature will get you that last leg of the trip. I know you prefer Nokia, but if you have a Windows Mobile phone, you can also install OneNote mobile. So I can record voice clips or take notes on my phone and when I plug it…. fffwwwwwiipppp… it gets sucked into OneNote on my computer. I now use my phone for important items, my idea book/bug list, etc. Oh! have a Tablet PC? you can write directly into onenote as well and optionally convert it to text for you (although that can be problematic). And you can mark items for followup and it will automatically create the task (and link it) in outlook.

    The thing it’s lacking is formatting. If you want to create a polished document, you still need to use something like Word, but luckily it has the ability to export directly to Word for that purpose. Or you can export to PDF (as with all Office 2007 files)

    I know it’s not as romantic as stacks of notebooks, but it’s worth a look. It’s completely changed the way I work with data by making it much easier to recall. If you’re interested, drop me a line and I’ll send you a copy.

  102. I’ve recently found you might want to have a mid-way dream first date because a dream first date is awfully hard to follow up. Here’s why.

    Me Australian living in London at bus stop bloody cold 1 am Sunday morning after fun night out.

    Cute blond girl jumping up and down to stay warm at bus stop near by.

    Me: What’s wrong with you? said with 😉

    Her: I’m Cold. (in strong Nordic accent)

    Me: No your not, your weird. (said with ;-)) Are you American? (said with ;-))

    Her: LOL no Norwegian

    Me: Do all Norwegians jump up and down in the cold

    Her: Yes

    Me : (Thinking this girl is cool) So if you’re from Norway aren’t you meant to not feeel the cold.

    Her: Not me.

    Cant remember exactly what followed but we got talking more and said I wanted her number. She pulls out this awesome new phone.

    me: That is so cool

    HER: Yeah I designed it

    Me: Right, we are SO going out.

    Me: Text her straight away when she got on her bus. ” you so did not design that phone”

    Her: Google me

    me: after googling; Wow she’s truething it.

    She had to leave to go to the states for work for a week. We texted each other and she basically got to the point where she said; to go out with someone she hadn’t met before, on a date, it would have to be a really tempting offer.

    So I wrote that I would bring the essence of temptation, if she was game enough to meet at the Tate modern at 2pm sharp to have afternoon tea sitting in the lobby of the Tate, over the crack (A public exhibition with a huge crack the full length of massive concrete lobby floor) at a portable table.

    Her: Yes; I can’t believe I am putting meeting my parents aside to do this.

    Me: (Quietly, well noisily “STOKED” on the inside.) Right I’ll see you at 2pm don’t be late!

    Come the day:

    I turn up slightly late, after leaving working out what the essence of temptation was going to be and getting a table and chairs, until 1pm and turning up at 2.15pm. Only to get promptly told the museum would not be happy to have us have a 1st date over the crack (no pun intended. )

    Not to be out done; we decided in the theme of things we should have afternoon tea in another publicly not correct place. e.g. On the Millennium bridge (one of the coolest foot bridges in the world in my book) next to the Tate mdern and crossing over the Thames to St Paul’s Cathederal.

    Other women walking past us where holding their chests going aaawh, or what ever the noise they make when they’re impressed. Guys who worked out what was going on thought i was either proposing or gave us the thumbs up. Fun, fun.

    her: I brought blueberry muffins and smoothies.

    me: You so rock, that is my favorite.

    Had a great afternoon being in the way of people a little bit. One of the much better things I’ve ever done. Probably all on CCTV too, NICE.

    On the second date we went out for coffee in a nice restaurant.

    What an anti climax!

    So if/when I end up on a perfect date again I’ll make certain to make the same effort for the next…


    £10 for dodgy white plastic fold-up table

    £15 for dodgy fold up chairs

    (BOTH RE-USABLE & Could have been borrowed)

    The essence of Temptation

    and a memory and story to last until I get amnesia, dementia or loose the photos.

    Now that Im looking for them…

  103. Tim,

    This is a helpful post (and I find most of what you offer on your blog helpful, by the way). I was especially interested to see your endorsement of hand-written notes. The most popular post on my blog is called “On Note-Taking and the Body.” It draws on the thought of the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty who argued that we are embodied minds, instead of minds in bodies. It is a short post if you want to read it:

    One thing I would like to see is a more fully articulated “method” for note-taking. For example, your notes resemble a quasi-Cornell method with the space for summaries or questions at the bottom. I imagine that your method developed organically and is therefore personally fitted to your needs, but a blog about method would be fantastic!


  104. Hi Tim, thanks for the interesting post.

    I used to take notes while reading, but I realised this took the fun out of reading so I stopped. I thought, I’ll remember what I need to remember. If I can subconsciously remember what I’ve read, then it’s worth remembering. Otherwise, why bother? I’m not sure if this is the best mindset to have! What do you think?


  105. Hello 4HWW!

    This might seem like a silly question. While taking notes on a topic, is it better to write on every page, or to write on every right handed page? Is that just a matter of individual preference? Also do I write down the page number in the index a page so…page 1 index, 2 index 3 index, or once I finish writing on multiple pages of the same topic (e.g. 1. index….stop the topic at page 20…index) I don’t quite understand.

    Thank you all for your time.

  106. No offense, but I consider an article written on advancing note-taking capacity that doesn’t include computer-generated soft-copy notes to be EXTREMELY outdated, impractical, antiquated (not in the pleasant old-school way either), and novice. I have thousands of notes all stored, archived, and categorized on computer (which are triple-backedup of course) all the way as early as elementary school, highschool, through college, certification programs and the bulk of all the notes by far are personal notes taken on self-endeavored research projects. The occasional scratchpad hand-written note is okay, and I’m a computer science geek of sorts, but still, I found an article on the “joys of numbering your handwritten pages” (and then what do you do with those stacks of slowly deteriorating pages and awkward binders???? Nothing , they create toxic clutter) to be kind of pathetic. so just my 2 cents. But all my notes are soft-copy tripe-backedup on the computer where they’re accessible on my iphone, laptop, comuter any webbrowser really. Could you imagine carrying around all of your hand-written if you wanted to look up a notes? Absurd, ridiculous, and pathetic to the extreme. I’ve put time into copying valuable hadn-written journals/notes to computer files. and properly archving/storing the notes. I was shocked to see such a not only outdated, but slow, cumbersome, and quite ridiculous (bordering stupidity) hand-written note method still used bye Ferris, of whom so many lifestyle techniques are so advanced.

    1. Pathetic and stupid? There is no place for rudeness here. Constructive criticism is fine, but rudeness and ridiculing other commenters (as you did on one other comment) don’t have a place here.

      Thanks for commenting, but play nice…


      1. I’m also an avid note taker, both on paper and using Evernote, but with the system you described here I would imagine that old (physical) notebooks soon fall off the radar.

        Is scanning the notebooks into Evernote your solution to this problem? How do you go about it?

        What did you do prior to Evernote?

  107. My dream date takes place in long beach calif. Happy hour and sunset starts the date at the art deco Observation Bar on the bow of the Queen Mary. Great views and live music in an amazing atmosphere of nostalgia and wo der. The. It’s off to 7 pm salsa lesson at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) about 2 miles away. From there it’s a late dinner at Fuego, a great new Latin restaurant located close by in the new Maya hotel. More ocean views with a martini and paella. Hence, my non-existent dream date. Total cost under 200 dollars

  108. Notetaking Comment & 4HWW Suggestion


    Your notetaking system has really helped me. Thank you for going into such detail!

    I have a quick question: How did you use this technique for writing the original 4HWK? I’m guessing you made the headings for the concepts you wanted to discuss in an index and gave yourself 20+ pages to add to your ideas. Would you explain how you did it?

    Have you considered writing a book directed specifically to professional educators? How to quickly teach concepts (which engages students and nixes behavior problems), set clear boundaries with parents and administrators, while still accomplishing student learning? For example, if our administrators saw the instructional time benefit of teachers who only checked their email twice a day, they might be gung-ho of more ideas you advocate.

    Can’t wait for the release date in December!


  109. Tim-

    Please tell me where you found that graph paper notebook. I have been searching everywhere and most of the ones I’ve found are terrible.



  110. Hey Tim,

    as a true friend of paper-based notes (I really tried almost any digital solution out there!) I have to introduce you to the following:

    ‘Roter Faden Taschenbegleiter’ (no URLs here so just google the full term)

    It’s some kind of ‘notebook plus’ with a unique clip-mechanism, that allows you to compose a notebooks that fits to your individual needs. You can add whatever you want to it: calenders, adressbooks, plain notebooks… You name it.

    And the best thing is: You can design it on your own (size, colour, material, number of pockets….)! Have to admit that it is far away from beeing cheap but in return you get an awesome quality: All of these books are handmade by the german designer and her team.

    Go check it out and keep up the good work here!

    Cheers from Berlin,


  111. Tim you seem like a pretty ruthless note-taker, and I know you’re a ruthless language learner. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen you endorse the Pulse Smartpen ( Besides not having to worry about losing your notes somehow, its the most amazing thing for language studies (I’m currently using it for my third language- Chinese). Are you familiar with it? If you are, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If not, I think you should give it a try…



  112. This one blog post and all of the comments are the reason I have spent 3 months building a new product around this.

    It truly changed my life and the day I stopped being a consumption whore I started building awesome stuff to point at.

    One notebook, one blog, changed my life and I can say that with honesty. I also bought every person in my family a notebook for Christmas and asked them to create, write, inspire others to do more, and they did.

    I had people say “that was the best idea ever,” – Brother “I wrote another page in my book!” – Grandma… and many more. I was then able to give $250 to St. Jude instead of blowing it all on Christmas.

    It is not about buying 1 notebook, it is about buy 10 and enabling your family and friends to do more, build more, and create. The simple things in life.

    The product will be launching soon and it is a mix of the 1 to 1 non-profit model, why buy 1 when you can buy 10, and community will have a voice in the hard copy of the book. The entire book will be pre-indexed, Tim Ferris style, and I am talking to publishers now.

    Again, thank you Tim. People read your book with so much words of wisdom and yet it was this one post mixed with your book ideas on running a business that have led me to help others.

    I would love to talk with you sometime to share the idea and get your thoughts around the product launch. (we will be using shopify and diving into the contest as well.)


    Shane Mac



  113. Tim on your note taking I really need some advice here. It seriously pisses me off that evernote and one note, the best programs to take notes in lack a user friendly equation editor.

    I have been trying a similar technique for years and I prefer to take notes by hand but it pisses me off because each class is different. A lot of classes today are literally all power-point’s and professors even leave blanks so that you will go to class. How do I put all of this together without using a binder. I hate binders. How did you deal with these class types?

    Either you need to worry about printing everything, which is a huge hassle if you need to print 30-50 pages for one day of classes, or you need to worry about scanning all of your hand written notes.

    The day that Evernote comes out with a good native equation editor, excel integration, and export ability is the day that every student will be using it to take notes.

  114. Dude,

    So Im replying a little late to this post as you wrote it 3 years ago, but you don’t need to refer to the people in India as your slave labour, I’m just saying.

  115. Ok, Tim, I thought of this as a challenge…I went out and tried to find a notebook just like you described and couldn’t…so I created it.

    I would have called it the Tim Ferriss journal, but I didn’t want any legal issues so I’ve called it MyThoughtPad. It has everything you mentioned and then some: index pages on front and back covers, numbered right-hand pages, graph pages, vertical-lined pages, a box in the lower right corner for things like random silliness, nice thick paper to write on, super heavy chipboard cover, oh and a little envelope in the back for miscellaneous knick knacks.

    There’s even one with your name on it (literally!), no strings attached, if you’re interested.


  116. Seeing your writing style really inspired me man. I really dig your detail-oriented style with things, especially writing. Thing is, I have been going through this for a long time now. Teetering on the edge of the, somewhat, whimsical usage pattern of what we know as, “Taking notes with your computer”. It is seriously this thing that people I feel like CAN NOT figure out what to do! Should they take a note using a notepad for 1 thing and a computer for a diff? Should they just throw out all paper and docs on the comp for todos and just use Post-its? Whatever it is, people are confused by it – and often a few have stood out of the crowd saying we will use these tools only (E.g. Write on the computer only for everything .. (down to the purists who would only use one txtpad for EVERYthing) but also the ones who write all on physical paper- and everything in between. Anyway, point being – I was in this teeter as I have been ‘experimenting’ with different styles of note taking for seriously probably 10+ years, and I’m only 22 – yeah I was one of those kids. I was super into physics and particularly quantum/theoretical physics as a young young young kid – for whatever reason. It was intense to the point where I had, what was at the time, binders and binders of notes that were totally unorganized – BUT now, in this present moment, I have somewhat perfected it I think. Interestingly enough, it loops right back around to where I’m back to paper again.

    I kind of got inspired by your post to re-examine my situation, and it came as somewhat of a sudden realization that this is something that more than just me goes through (Doy, I know). Well, so basically now I have a setup somewhat similar to yours or ANYONE who is embracing a slight minimalism in their life to de-clutter the BS to focus on the points that stand out from the rest of the Universe. ‘Where’s Waldo’ status.

    I really appreciate the inspiration man and just wanted to say keep killing it. I pre-ordered the book can’t WAIT to get it – am getting to a point in my life where physicality is becoming a main focus in my mind/body connection. It is perfect timing for the flow of my life and I am stoked as hell and am just grateful that you keep on with the writing. You have a lot ta share mate, which I’m sure you’re aware of – but you may even have more than you would think at first. You have a philisophical side man, you should seriously write a book like that. Wayy down the road I know, but all I’m saying is when you’re like 80 (we won’t live that long but just if) you get to like 80 and have a huge white beard and long white hair you must write a philosophy book as sort of an ending memoirs. “Letters from Timothy”. Haha dude I’m totally pulling a hippy glenn here, let me just finish this. Take care Tim.

    PS – I would d-i-double-g the cover if it had the shiny meditative guy – but I can see your worry, is it too flashy gimmicky for a meditative Buddhist position. Realistic concern! Honestly tho, I really think it would just look more ‘official’ with the shiny attributes. It wouldn’t be scammy – but PSS on the ‘scammy note’: You sure are a running with that title. Just remember, the play goes ‘Run out .. hook in. Run out… hook in. Haha 😉

  117. On note taking:

    I use index cards. I usually carry around 3 to 5 in the back pocket of my jeans. Very easy to put in order, rearrange or simply file them in a box 😉

  118. Ok, so I didn’t read all the comments, but: I am a student in public health at a semi-prestigious university, and I need to say that, for qualitative research, this is GREAT. When you are doing research, it is extremely important to document the process of your thoughts, but it is very herd to do so in a way that will help you later. Cheers to this process!

  119. This whole Wikileaks fiasco is pretty crazy. You should check out It’s a recently launched website that seems to be going viral. They got something like 50,000 visitors in the first 24 hours of launch. It’s sort of like a crowdsourced collection of arguments against and for Wikileaks. As a blog owner, you’d probably find some of the opinions there a good read.

  120. Hey Tim, could you clarify the notetaking of books like AJ Jacobs’?

    Are you simply indexing the book, so when you need the info you grab the index and the book (or the index alone triggers recall), or is the index created in addition to notes for the book?


  121. Tim,

    Great post. I second Josh’s request. It’s the HOW I’m interested in. What do you do when you take notes? Is there a book or URL that you can recommend?

    Thanks and Cheers,


  122. Hey Tim,

    One small point about all of this that I think your overlooking (note: assumption) is something which my mentor pointed out to me and many people stuggle with, is taking notes for “post scanning”

    … if you watch most people they write at all angles across the page, in different directions, sizes etc. Whereas, if you make the choice to write either vertically (or horizontally, as applicable) down/across the page it makes it a lot more easier and quicker to scan and re-read at a later date, which is not the case when you write otherwise.

    You can increase “scanability” by using set spacing between text, set margins, bullet points etc.

    In the past I did it. Now, it makes things a LOT easier and you will notice a distinct impact on your mental and emotional state – you feel less “cluttered” more present, clear minded and certainly “stress free” which is created in a majority of cases (esp. in a digital world) by being overwhelmed by information.


  123. Hi Tim,

    I’ve reread this post 10 times in the last year and have found many of the suggestions very practical. I’m still struggling to understand your indexing (for example – AJ Jacobs book). Is it an index of the topics & pages in the book where you can find them OR an index of your notes on those topics from the book and the pages to find your notes on the book in your notebook?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond … it’s the one lingering question that is confusing me.

  124. Tyler, my intrepretation of Tim’s writing is…

    “an index of your notes on those topics from the book and the pages to find your notes on the book in your notebook?”

    Hope this helps.

  125. As a non-profit Man Coach I dream about Dates alot.. There is just one thing i’m looking for.. the woman and in what kind of Environment her beauty shines best.. I really love! to hijack woman.. they have alot of stuff to handle.. alot of responsibility.. I love it to give them a space where time seems to hold still and they can just go with theyre deepest emotional states what ever it might be..

    1. I’ll grab the woman right away from her workplace arranging it before with her chef.

    2. As working in fashion business i’ll give her a little handpack and bring here to the airport..

    3. Let her close her eyes and show with the finger to last-minute destination on a map

    4. fly there with her and prepare during flight the perfect hotel or if it would be in Croatia where im actually from, i’ll talk with old people having the best appartements you can imagine..

    5. I’ll cook for her or take her to the restaurant, depends on the woman.. and then let me inspire me true her.. i love to take pictures to let the woman see true my eyes.. or to dance tango with them.. everything where i lead and they can just relax and be who they are..

    On the last i’ll take a black pen and go with her in the almost empty street and write the first sentence of a love story on a public place.. lead her to another place and let her write the second..

    Man love your question.. greetings from a former student of orlando owen btw steve p.. you know what i mean 😉

  126. In spite of reagular reading your blog I was very excited after seeing a blog post that I have missed somehow and that is something I truly like doing – notes.

    Imagine my reaction when I got to the end of it and the only thing I can say is “well, sounds like me”. First blog post here that merely described my so far experiences. It either proves you’re a human or that those methods “really” kick ass ;))

    I learned how to take notes from my biology teacher in high school. Man was crazy, he could present 20pages-long material of difficult words and schemes in the regular lesson and the grades were mostly B (or 4/6 in the Polish system)

  127. Tim and his blind date walk into a talent agency. Says to the talent agent, “we’ve got a great act.”

    Talent agent says, “I usually don’t do ‘blind date’ acts, they’re a little too cutesy.” Tim says, “We know when you see our act, you’ll love it. Please can we show you our act?” Talent agent says, “Okay, fine.”

    With a smirk Tim says, “I wouldn’t be one to kiss and tell. Some things are more fun left unexplained”. (takes an immediate and pronounced bow)

    Talent agent says, “That’s a hell of an act, what do you call it?”


  128. Great article – I just moved from using a tablet with keyboard back to page a day diary. The act of taking notes is great for re-enforcing memories & I learn more by doing this.

  129. Thank god I thought I was the only one with the ” Notemania Disorder”

    I have notes about everything-pregnancies 2- food, random observations everywhere I go, I left Moleskin notepads for my Iphone Notes.

    Thank you for making my day.

    Have a notefunfilled day,


  130. At some point, I realized that I totally misunderstood the Moleskine Daily Planner. I was thinking of it as a — wait for it — daily planner (with a vertical calendar in front), when it’s REALLY a general-purpose notebook with the following attributes:

    — 370-page ruled Moleskine (the largest Moleskine by far);

    — idiosyncratic page numbering scheme, but that’s okay, because it matches the built-in index pages in front;

    — each page has a big area at the top for subject and/or metadata; and

    — it can often be found at a discount starting mid-January.

  131. yes and some people take drugs recreationally these are the people who do not take notes.

    I thought your comment was funnyso I thought I would try and match your wit.

  132. On note taking also try here…

    There’s a whole community.

    Dream date:

    – My Wife.

    – Wake up early and review to do list (naw just kidding!)

    – Walk to the Welsh Rugged Coastline and a four mile trek to the Pub.

    – Lunch and catch the bus back (Don’t drink and drive.)

    – Change and off to the theatre in town.

    – Hotel with late drinks.


  133. Great article! I’m really trying to get into consistent note taking. It’s something that has come up as a theme in recent books I have read (The Miracle Morning, Steal Like An Artist). I have mainly used Evernote for Journaling/Note taking but I’m trying to make the transition to paper.

    I’m not sure if anyone has asked this already but I’m a little confused on how the index works.

    “Whenever you complete a page, put the page number in an index on the inside cover (front or back) and a few words to describe the content.”

    Does this mean that you create an index entry for each page (I’m assuming that you don’t)? And if you don’t, does that mean you just index things you feel are particularly interesting?

    Also, it would seem that as you get deeper in to a notebook it would get increasingly difficult to determine whether to create a new index entry or go through the other entries to find out if they are of the same topics. Any strategies for doing that? or does is not as much of a chore as it seems?

    Thanks again for the article. There is always great content here. You are an inspiration!

    – Ryan

  134. To create an index on the cloud, you could photograph / scan the index pages and save these to evernote (or similar). If you write with block caps, they will be searchable. If you don’t, you can get someone to type them up. Nothing stopping you doing that with the entire notebook of course.

  135. I guess I would take advantage of the false attribution error and do something really exciting. the idea is to escalate slowly and gradually come back to normal

    1. having dinner in a teppanyaki restaurant involving a lot of open fire and knife throwing

    2. leave the restaurant and grab a cab to a nearby airport (no questions allowed)

    3. go into a plane and get ready for parachuting

    4. jump out of the plane and land on an open field located near a outdoor cinema

    5. let the evening come to an end while watching a movie together out of a car old-fashioned style


  136. You state that you do not use digital note taking tools. However, I recall on many of your podcast recommending Evernote. Do you use Evernote?

  137. My dream date by Christian the Great:

    • With a beautiful Norwegian girl with a stereotypical Scandinavian side braid in her hair.

    • In the city of Berlin at Umami in Prenzlauer Berg, eating super fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls and drinking Moscow Mule cocktails made with their house made brown rice vodka

    • Afterwards head to the mysterious Tausend bar under a bridge, knock on the non descript door and talk our way past the super German bouncer and proceed to consume more delicious beverages among the beautiful people of Berlin.

    • And finally: Go home and read the 4 Hour Workweek together while looking deep into each other’s eyes 😛

  138. I’d give the money to Jamie Foxx and ask him what he could organise with a 25% bigger budget than he had for one of the greatest parties ever held.

  139. You should really consider Microsoft OneNote for note taking. It’s searchable, so you don’t have to wade through 8 feet of paper to find your info. I wish I had it in college!

  140. My dream date is that I’d wake up from a nightmare. Laying next to me is Charlize or even Michelle Pfeiffer (love older women). She wakes up and we…I don’t kiss and tell either.

  141. 48 Hours in Rio:

    1. Base Jumping off Christ the Redeemer

    2. Ayahuasca journey

    3. Scuba diving/snorkeling/water skiiing

    4. Viewing the sunrise or sunset on the water.

    5. Possibly schedule dates to experience the carnival or New Years there.

    6. Meditate in Jardim Botânico

    7. Sneak into the 2016 Olympic games.

  142. Dream Date

    – We would start by going to Alinea for dinner. Probably have to be a Thursday night for budget purposes.

    – After dinner we would have over to Longman & Eagle to enjoy the vibes and chat over some bourbon.

    – Before we left longman I would buy a bottle of bourbon and sneak into Adler planiterium. Once we are in, we would enjoy bourbon and the best view of the city.

    – Good eats, Good Vibes, Good Bourbon

  143. I’m split between using steno pads because of their dual columns and size and Noteworthy on the iPad for a paperless option. My biggest issue is taking that data and acting on it. With multiple meetings I’ve yet to find a good way to make sure I go back to that data and it just doesn’t sit on a shelf. That could be a better use for the digital side, to index the indexes into actionable items. “Create Article on sleep: Book 5, Page 10.5”.

  144. Link exchange is nothing else however it is simply placing the other person’s webpage link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also do same in favor of you.

  145. Hi Tim, I have a fuzzy memory of a picture of you writing in a giant composition notebook. Did I imagine this? If not, where can I get one? If anyone else knows where I can get giant notebooks, say 16×20, I’d be grateful… –Danny

  146. City: Angkor, Cambodia. Dream date: visiting Angkor Wat and learning about the lifestyle of ancient Cambodians whilst admiring the architectural design of the temple. Afterwards, dinner at a fancy restaurant and a night of relaxation at the hotel room.

  147. Dream Date:

    It will be in NYC, where I live. Begin on a Sunday morning with a shower together and laughter (priceless and free). Perhaps get into a small pillow fight. Morning aerial yoga class ($30) together followed by guided meditation. Share a tea and a great conversation ($15). Try some vegan lunch? ($50) Walk around Soho, hold hands, kiss… Buy something for $180.

    Walk into Strand Book Store and spend a whole hour in an unfamiliar section. Exploring what we don’t know. Choose books for each other. ($40)

    Pop into a fortune teller or a psychic shop together (agree not to take it seriously though) ($50). Go to a spa for a foot massage ($100), watch a movie at Lowes Union Square. Buy groceries at WholeFoods and head home. Make a healthy dinner together. Candles, quiet music (he will pick) and true connection. Read our books to each other (1-2 pages), scratch his back and fall asleep hugging.

  148. Tim, would love to see an update on this (e.g. how your notetaking has/hasn’t evolved in the context of Evernote-type options, etc). Love your work, man!

  149. Ideal date? Here’s how it would go: Barcelona, Spain. The afternoon is a hodgepodge of excitement: the rival football team, Real Madrid, is in town for a match tonight. My lovely date and I, along with the city at large, prepares in the traditional fashion with food and drinks for an hour or two beforehand. This of course leads us to making a few friends before, and(with language skills augmented by your process, Fluent in 3 months, and Duolingo) we can really appreciate the food and culture and the excitement. The game begins and it’s tense- Real Madrid starts up. They barely lose in the last minutes of stoppage time. The crowd(along with my date and I) go nuts! We go out for dinner and more drinks to celebrate the fun, and it’s my first taste of Catalonian cuisine-perhaps some seafood dish? I might be even more daring and ask the waiter to bring us his choice off the menu.. When dinner’s done we’ll take a walk through the beautiful city and talk about the success of the night…and possibly continue that success back at the hotel 🙂 but to take a leaf from your book, I’ll end the story there.

  150. Ok nuts ?

    We meet at my vehicle of choice for the evening: a Saturn V space rocket, then fly to the ISS to have a dinner prepared by … maybe Jiro Ono? (i really love sushi, and i think it might be a good zero gravity meal)

    Of course we are having dinner in front of a big-ass window, because you need some romantic vibe at a date, and try to beat that sky full of stars!

    Maybe also have some music from the cinematic orchestra (arrival of the birds)

    Yes, that sounds really good for me.

  151. Ah… We’d end up in Paris. As I had my wedding anniversary last Monday, I might end up executing this one a few weekends down:

    We go to the Musee d’Orsay to spend some time looking at Monet’s waterlilies and a few other paintings we like. Then on to our favourite restaurant there, which is a fabulous walk 1.5 mile along the bank of the Seine. The restaurant is called L’AOC. We’ll eat freshly made homemade terrines and other cuisine du terroir based great food. Then we stroll to a hotel nearby. We’ll both be extremely happy and fulfilled.

    Gas $100, tickets $40, dinner $200, Hotel $150

  152. Hello Tim!

    My dream date would be set in Osaka. Dressed in comfortable clothing, equipped with coins, we would visit a suitable gaming arcade and rotate through the selection of dance dance revolution-, FPS- and classic videogames. Fuelled by japanese sweets and drinks neither of us want to know the actual content of, we would spend a couple of hours here before making our way to a nearby bathhouse. One that allows men and women to go in together. After relaxing, maybe getting a massage and getting dressed, we would head to a small, local diner or bar that serves simple dishes and bar-snacks. Here we would spend the night drinking umeshu and eating and talking to the locals in broken Japanese. Of course, this bar is also a karaoke bar and when the time is right, we take turns with the other guest singing our hearts out (again, in broken japanese…). Everyone is having a lovely time and new friends are being made. After shutting the place down, we would take the long walk home to experience Osaka by night (and also, to sober up), before heading to our separate hotells. And the next day, we would do it all over again.

    それはいい夢ですねえ ^_^

  153. My dream date starts off in a helicopter where we soak up an aerial view of the city. Cruising high above the hustle and bustle of people and low over the serene waters where the dolphins playfully poke their heads above the surface, we weave below bridges and above skyscrapers until the colors are a blur and the topography is indelibly imprinted on our minds.

    Then we proceed to a stunning maison on a hillside overlooking the water where a chef waits to design and create a gastric delight *with* us. We prep, cook, learn and then dine on a warm outdoor patio overlooking the water with mischievous birds begging to steal a bite.

    The laughter and dialog flows freely as does the “yummms and ahhhhs” at nearly every delectable bite.

    After dinner we stroll down to the beach and walk as long as we desire before deciding how we want to end the evening.

    P.S. I would loooove the Tools of Titans book instead… just sayin’. 😉

  154. Thank you for this wonderfully interesting article.

    Ready for THE Dream Date ? I mean, really ready ?

    Ok, let’s land in Switzerland, in Geneva to be more specific. Don’t forget your swimsuit as we will be swimming in the wonderful Geneva lake by this late summer afternoon. Then, let’s have a paddle board tour [30$]. The lake is still, serene, cristal clear and the landscape is amazing, the blue sky contrasting with the everlasting snow on the Alps. After our tour, we will have a drink at the UN (United Nations) beach [20$], watching the sunset on the Mont Blanc, before heading to the Bain des Pâquis, to eat one of the best and unforgettable cheese fondue with local wine [80$]. You will see, the ambiance here is wonderful, it’s like all happy people living here gather there to spend time with friends. After this, we will enjoy a wonderful classic movie screened outside, close to the beach, while comfortably lying on a deck chair under a warm and cosy blanket [0$]. And we will be laughing, knowing that we have 370$ left for many other unforgettable evenings 😉


  155. San Fran this June after “escape from Alcatraz” triathlon. First trip in a long time without kids with none other than my beautiful wife as my travel partner. Did I mention without kids….

    I’ll be exhausted but exhilarated and proud by accomplishing one of my to do list life items. I imagine it will take just a few sips of whatever drink comes our way and I can already feel the ‘relax’ coursing from my neck to my toes.

    It seems to me, a drink is always best when it’s earned.

    I’m getting really good at enjoying the now, whether it lasts four hours or just a few minutes and San Fran at the start of summer…excitement and energy whatever direction we turn.

    Cliche’d maybe a bit but true nonetheless, my wife and I can easily make this a perfect date In a great city after a magical day.

  156. Hey Tim! I noticed some notes with Biblical references and theology and always thought it would be really interesting to have you put Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbytarian, NY) on the podcast. He’s highly intelligent and makes it a point to avoid using “churchy” language. At the very least, he might provide you with some well articulated insight on the topics you’re researching. I think you guys would get along.

  157. This will decrease the weight of items to become moved and reduce the cost of move. It would seemingly take a moment, settling in as a family inside new settings. These packers and movers companies also provide services for international relocations.

  158. This is a comment on the “How to Take Notes Like an Alpha-Geek ” part of this post… Id be interested in how you use technology with your note taking. It seems with a good indexing or classification scheme you could use Evernote or something like that to quickly take and organize notes. Then retrieving information becomes much quicker. Plus you get the added benefit of all the metadata/statistics on your notes such as quantity of notes on a topic over time, relations to other topics (in the sort of “Freakonomics” way). But the crux is coming up with the system that works with Evernote (or whatever note taking app you use). You could have someone transcribe your notebooks into the new system then do some data analysis to discover, perhaps, topics for which you have a lot of information but maybe have not yet taken the opportunity to develop a bloggable story around. Could be interesting.

  159. Tim, I am curious about why you number your journal pages using “1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc.” – do you start “new” subjects on the 1,2,3… pages and leave the back of each for follow up notes?

    Also, for your index, do you reserve a fixed number of pages at the back or work backwords?

    Finally, how do you get your finished pages into an Evernote type system? Do you rip out pages and put into a scanner or just take snapshots of each page with your phone? Does Evernote OCR work well on handwriting? Does your penmanship reflect that you will need to scan it eventually?


  160. Pretty rusty at this: married 32yrs: previous a dream date was any night that the kids went to bed and stayed there! But here it goes:

    Full Moon weekend – spring through fall: Brunch in Detroit at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Kresge Court and then wander around a bit and take in what ever special exhibition they have at the time. Drive over to Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters (south and more downtown) for a coffee/expresso then out to a favorite restaurant Loya Organic (Mediterranean) in West Bloomfield for an early dinner. Then over to the Heavner family’s Canoe rental at Proud Lake Recreation Area in Milford to participate in the Moonlight Paddle: paddle west into the sunset on the Huron River into Milford (about 60 minutes of easy paddling), leave the canoe in central park, walk into town* for fries and then ice cream or frozen yogurt. After sunset and as the full moon is rising paddle back to the livery without any lights…under the moonlight. There is usually a pan flute player entertaining along the way from an unseen position. If the weather cooperates and the evening chills a bit you will get mist rising up of the water…magic. Bonfire afterwards always.

    Note*: precious are the few towns do not flinch at a hoard of people traipsing though town wearing PFDs and carrying dry bags! : -)

    NOTE: no where near $500 required. A dream date need not be complicated.

  161. This is great. Thanks Tim. Any thoughts on doing an updated version on YouTube? Would love to know how you use tech to keep track of all your notes and how you organise your digital life.

  162. Awesome post and just what I needed. I was also wondering, as a few others are, about more detail on your system of the actual note details such as the bottom right corner showing a list of follow up names, the rectangles around the “To Do” items, etc. Thank you!!

  163. I use paper for my morning pages, a white board and photos for brainstorming, but regular daily notes go into my phone, often in gmail. My handwriting is uber illegible, even to me and often moreso with wine or beer. Notes from a lecture or class go in the laptop. I can type way faster than I scrawl. YMMV

  164. I know you said that you don’t do digital note taking. I prefer not to as well. Instead I e found a work around that allows me to keep all of my notes and “notebooks” without driving my wife crazy with the sheer amount of them: the Rocketbook. It allows you to take notes on paper just as you would normally, then you can scan them in, erase the pages, and start again fresh. There are of course cons to it such as leaving it in a hot car will erase or fade the pages but if you take care of it and the pens, you can definitely get more than bang for your buck. I have a notepad sized one that fits in my back pocket, a day planner style that has note pages in it, and a regular 8×11 sized notebook with both graphing and lines pages.

  165. I am always interested in learning better ways to take notes especially for self help books (biographies etc.) and then finding better ways to log them in notebooks and then index to find them in other books. Is there any chance you would put together a YouTube video or a video and go more in-depth into your system?? If you can do it through a book great (I’ll buy it), but if not a video would work for me and I would even pay to learn from system. As others say why try reinvent the wheel, go to the expert And learn from them.

    Thanks. Brook

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