Why I Ditched My Moleskine Journal

I have used a paper journal for years to take meeting notes and jot down random thoughts. (I detailed my system here.) Yes, I tried the first generation iPad for this, but I ended up passing it on to a colleague. I just couldn’t quite fit it into my workflow—especially after I got a MacBook Air.

For years, my journal of choice has been the Moleskine. In fact, I have an entire shelf in my office set aside for storing my old copies. I have loved the simplicity, usability, and low profile of this notebook.

However, as I became more and more addicted to Evernote, I tried to figure out a way to get these notes into Evernote. Yes, you can take a photo, using the Evernote app for iPhone. But this is not as simple as it sounds. It is difficult to get the pages in focus and in the right orientation (landscape vs. portrait). If it works for you, great. It didn’t work for me.

What I really wanted to do was tear the pages out, scan them in my ScanSnap scanner, and then throw them away. The problem is that the Moleskine notebook only has 16 perforated pages at the end of the journal. That sent me on a search. What I really wanted was a journal where every page was perforated.

Google didn’t let me down. I almost instantly found the Ecosystem line of personal journals. I also discovered that they were available at my local Barnes & Noble store. Gail and I made a quick trip to the store near our home, found the Ecosystem spinner rack, and began exploring our options.

Ecosystem Author Journal

We discovered that the Ecosystem journals look almost identical to the Moleskine ones. It has a ribbon bookmark, elastic closure, and expandable inner pocket. However,

  • Every page is perforated
  • The paper is 100% post-consumer recycled and acid-free
  • Each journal has a unique ID number. If you register it, and it is found, whoever found it can return it to you.
  • It is made entirely in the U.S.A.
  • It comes in four styles:
    1. Advisor (calendar formats)
    2. Architect (grid paper)
    3. Author (ruled paper)
    4. Artist (blank paper)
  • It comes in six vibrant colors (see photo above)
  • It comes in three bindings:
    1. Hardcover
    2. Flexicover
    3. Paper
  • It also comes in three sizes:
    1. Large (7-3/8″ x 9-7/8″ inches)
    2. Medium (5-1/4″ x 8-1/4″ inches)
    3. Small (3-5/8″ x 5-5/8″ inches)

Currently, I am using the medium, hardcover Author style in Oynx black. If you didn’t know better, you would think it was a standard issue Moleskine notebook. The retail price is $16.95, a dollar cheaper than the Moleskine. However, via Amazon, they are about the same price ($11.53 vs. the Moleskine at $11.67).

If you are a Moleskine user, I would encourage you to try the Ecosystem’s Journal—especially if you are using Evernote. It is worth the added features.

Also, you can follow Ecosystem on their Tumblr blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Thanks to the generosity of Ecosystems, I gave away 50 free copies of the Author style journal. You can find the list of winners here.
Question: What is your current system for taking notes? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jkallen57

    I am a huge Moleskine fan but I really like the look of this new notebook!!

  • http://twitter.com/TheGreatDanaJ Dana J.

    Hi Michael, I love your blog and I would love to win one of these Ecosystem notebooks!

  • James Taylor

    I currently use Evernote and like you, once I began using Evernote more and more, wanted to find a perforated notebook suitable for scanning. I’ve been using Rhodia pads so far, but these Ecosystem notebooks look worth checking out… thanks!

  • Doreen

    My current system for taking notes is a combination of using word and saving notes in my Iphone.

  • http://www.christownley.com chris townley

    evernote and a moleskin… 

  • Matthew Snyder

    I’m just now trying out Evernote, but I have been using a Moleskin. Recently went back to a legal pad. I can never decide. There are too many options these days!

    But I do think I like traditional pen and paper the best…

  • Paul S.

    My current system is Evernote on iPhone/laptop or Google Docs on my laptop.

  • Jim Martin

    My current system for taking notes is a moleskin.  I take note of meetings, books, random thoughts, ect.  Then I transfer these to Things or Evernote.  Recently, I have taking photographs of particular pages and then transferring them to Evernote.

    I am interested in the Ecosystem notebook so that I can experience possible enhancement to my process.  I am hoping this will help to actually simplify the process.


  • http://twitter.com/TattooedBacon Adam Thomas

    I use Evernote for my journaling/note taking.  But I really should have some way to take notes that isn’t electronic.  :)  

  • Tpkirkpatrick

    I am a Moleskine guy.  I have been since 2005.  I am definitely open to trying the EcoSystem, as long as it still looks classy on my bookshelf. I do like the idea of the perforated pages and the ID system.

  • Anonymous

    I use a Moleskine for recording my thoughts in narrative form and a Piccadilly (much cheaper) to record quotes, my to do list, contact info, and various other things I want to remember.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BYGT2VNIXMAR6G6XTMSBF5HSIE Ava

    I currently use a Moleskine but I’ve been journaling daily for the past 30 years. The fact that I can register the Ecosystem caught my eye. I just lost my last Moleskine about a month ago and after re-tracing my steps for 3 days trying to find it, I gave up and started a new one. I’ve kept every one of my journals over the years (in boxes in my attic). They are my legacy to my daughters.

  • http://twitter.com/RobertTalbert Robert Talbert

    Hope this isn’t too late: My current note-taking system goes like this.

    (1) If it’s a meeting where I have my computer with me, i type in the notes into a simple text file (I like TextMate for an all-purpose text editor) and then copy/paste the notes into Evernote later.

    (2) If it’s a meeting or other situation where I prefer paper (or don’t have the computer handy), I maintain at my desk this giant stack of paper consisting of printouts or photocopies that for whatever reason I didn’t end up using, for which the fronts are printed but the backs are blank. Before I head off to the meeting or whatever it is, I grab a few pieces of paper off that stack and use those for notes. There’s not the hip cachet of carrying around a Moleskine, but first of all I am a cheapskate and second of all it’s recycling the paper in a responsible way. I take the notes freestyle at the meeting, scan them into Evernote (via the excellent Genius Scan app for the iPhone or my office’s copier/scanner) and then into the recycle bin they go.

    (3) I do also have a few Moleskines of various sizes sitting around. I have one Moleskine that I use for a personal journal and another I use for notes I take for talks at conferences. The bound journals are good for this because they are archival quality, and with all my conference notes in one place I can find connections between talks and ideas from different conferences sometimes years apart. If needed, I can scan these into Evernote later but generally the Moleskine itself is a sort of reference file in my GTD setup.

    So Moleskines and their ilk play a kind of small but important role in my system. But I’m not married to the Moleskine brand and would be very interested in trying out the Ecosystem.

    • http://twitter.com/RobertTalbert Robert Talbert

      I forgot to mention that I first heard about Michael’s giveaway through his Twitter stream: http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelHyatt/status/75197854741823488

  • http://twitter.com/jmichaelthurman J. Michael Thurman


    I have used Moleksine notebooks and enjoyed them.  They were more durable that mega-mart spiral-bounds.  Then, I moved to a planner to to do it all.  It was too big to carry.  Then came the PDA which was replaced by the smartphone. Nothing really satisfied my need to index / search through all those bits of paper.

    Now, I use Evernote and experience similar challenges to those you mentioned in the article using page photos.  I love being able to tag my entries for search and being able to retrieve them from almost anywhere.  Thanks for the tip on using perf pads and a scanner as some things just can’t be easily typed or photographed!
    ~ Michael

  • Melissa Smith

    I just started making my notes in Catch Notes (an android app) because I needed something I could take w/ me everywhere so I could record my thoughts at a moments notice. Plus I also wanted my notes to be secure. The only issue is the electronic format. There’s something about putting a pen to paper manually that just can’t be replaced, so I also have a journal I keep at home.

  • Dan Glaze

    Hi Mike;  I have used a moleskin for decades. And I have recently started using Evernote, thus I found your insights very appealing.   Thank you!

  • Chris MacDonald

    I usually try to have a notepad on hand or use my iPhone or MacBook where possible.

  • Drmcclain77

    I use a combination of my lap top and a regular wire bound journal, but I would like to find a new system that is more effective and this sounds good!

  • http://www.showhope.org?ref=blogcomments Melissa Wheatley

    I was just about to go out and buy my first Moleskine today for a trip to China, but I’m glad I read your post first. I also just downloaded Evernote last week. I’m late to that train, but I’m getting there. I like the idea of writing on paper and scanning it in. That makes a little more sense for me.

  • http://www.showhope.org?ref=blogcomments Melissa Wheatley

    I was just about to go out and buy my first Moleskine today for a trip to China, but I’m glad I read your post first. I also just downloaded Evernote last week. I’m late to that train, but I’m getting there. I like the idea of writing on paper and scanning it in. That makes a little more sense for me.

  • http://johndobbs.com John Dobbs

    I use a black and red wire notebook … the one you describe sounds very interesting!

  • Lonnie W. Brooks

    I currently use a moleskin journal as well, just because it looked cool.  I never thought about the benefits of using the ecosystems or anything else, but I would like to give it a try.  As a pastor, father and blogger, I try to capture thoughts while I’m out and then put them on the computer at a future time.  I hope you will send one my way!!! 

  • Sheri Yates

    I am a journal freak! I always carry a moleskin. It has never crossed my mind to scan the pages! Awesome. Thank you!

  • Joshua Madden

    I look forward to using these journals, I have been searching for 10+ years for something like this. Thanks Michael!

  • http://twitter.com/davidlooney David Looney

    I use the spiral notebook. Cambridge City.  The metal scratches my computer and the pages tear out too easily.  This sounds good to me.

  • Joan Linbeck

    I ususally use a spiral notebook and ballpoint pen for taking notes. I try and date and note the topic on each entry. I like the tactile feel of paper rather than keyboard…especially a virtual one.  It takes too much of my reserve brain power to consider which key to press rather than put that thought into what I am writing. Therefore the old fashioned writing on paper works better for me. I like the idea of scanning into digital copy. I would love to try the Ecosystem. Thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmy.braddock Jimmy Braddock

    I dont currently have a system but in desperate need of organizing random thoughts, notes, appts. as they are scattered among various torn pages, different notebooks and stacks of business cards!

  • Cseaburg

    I have struggled with the filing process. I have 20 plus legal pads in my office that are completely full over the years. I know i must change my filing and note taking habits. I was turned onto evernote it’s and moleskin about two months ago. I do love the evernote, but like u, the moleskin has still left me with pages to file.

    I would love to take a shot at the new perferated Eco-system journal. Thanks for considering me.

  • Michael

    Currently, I use a legal pad and scan to pdf.  Sometimes I organize my notes under my documents folder and for some pdfs I use evernote.  I have yet to finalize a system. :o/

  • Chris Paulk

    I have used a Moleskine, but I wished they had perforated pages…so I could scan them into Evernote. Now, I just use random sheets of paper to scan. Or, I use Evernote on my iPad. Sure wish I had an Ecosystem.

  • Kquinley

    Mike — I often use a regular legal pad and also have a digital voice recorder.  I dictate notes — lengthy or short — in this “capture tool” and periodically go back and either (1) transcribe, (b) save to my hard drive as a WAV or MP3 file or (3) email to SpeakToWrite for outsourced transcribing. 

    Kevin Quinley
    Fairfax, VA

  • Linda Condolora

    My problem is I have no cohesive current system of note-taking. I sometimes use a moleskin; I use iWriter on my iPad, and have recently started using Evernote. Recently, I have been frustrated with feeling like my thoughts and ideas are scattered all over the place. I definitely need a more organized method of note-taking. Your posts on how you’ve been doing that with the Ecosystem journal and the snap scanner have intrigued me. I’d love to give it a try, as I love using pen and paper and just can’t seem to give it up for technology. Your system combines the pen and paper I love, with the ease of transferring it into the technology I need. Here’s hoping I’m one of the lucky 50.

  • Kcroy

    I’m so happy you are encouraging journaling! As an English teacher and speaker I regularly encourage my audiences to keep a journal.  “A life worth living is worth recording!” I am a Moleskine user and have been my entire life. I really enjoyed Michael’s post and am looking forward to getting my hands on an Ecosystem journal to compare the two. I do not use digital notes yet. I record voice memos on Evernote and my iPhone to be written into my Moleskine later. The idea of tearing a page out of my journal scares me. Not sure I would use that feature. I do want to get and use a SnapScan.  

  • Thesiplomat24

    Good morning. Very interesting. I was using a paper journal for sometime. I now use my iPhone a lot for my journal and even keep an audio journal. Thanks for sharing!

  • Linda Condolora

    I have posted the tweet under my Twitter screen name ScribblersInk. I didn’t want to chance being disqualified because my posting name here doesn’t match my Twitter screen name. Thanks for the opportunity to try this new journal. I’m really looking forward to it and to becoming much more organized.

  • Johnnydye

    I use a calendar leather daytimer that my in-laws give me each year for Christmas. I tried using IPhone but it’s not practical for writing much. And my laptop is harder to carry around. If I win one o will give it to my 7 year old daughter who wants to be a writer. Have any in pink?

  • Shawn

    Michael – Thanks for the Ecosystem introduction/review. I’ve been using the Black and Red notebook because I like the perforated pages and spiral binding. Coincidentally I just filled it up and it’s time for a new one… or I’d love to try the Ecosystem! I’m a huge Evernote fan too, but have not yet integrated my paper notetaking with it… so hearing how you stop it is very helpful. Thanks again for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyler-Redden/524660753 Tyler Redden

    First, the answer to the question, “What is your current system for taking notes?” A: I use a variety of methods, but I’m heading towards the paperless office. I like how you did it!

    Second, creative math I did to show you why I would like a free notebook:
    326 – How ‘Eco’ is spelled on a phone dial pad.
    816 – How many comments you currently have. Now…watch this!

    326 (x) 3 (in honor of the three day weekend) = 978
    Divide 326 in half (because this post is already half done) = 163

    978 (-) 163 = 815.

    Currently, you have 816 comments. Subtract from that, the number above (815) and you get the number of Ecosystems notebooks I would like = ONE!! :)

  • http://twitter.com/tribeofrhinos Stefan Andrew Hall

    I appreciate the info, I’m looking for a new way of journaling.

  • http://twitter.com/tribeofrhinos Stefan Andrew Hall

    I’ve been using a leather bound journal, looking for a better system.

  • Anonymous

    For classes, since I’m a college student, I use Evernote on the iPad, and admittedly, I’ve used the “picture” feature in science labs.

    As a blogger, I use the AudioNote app, which allows me to sync audio with text so that I can more effectively express ideas to listen to as I sit down to blog.

    In church, though, I use the notes feature on the YouVersion Bible app, where I keep bookmarks and highlights attached to the notes.

    Notes are a huge part of my life as a young adult in the 21st century, but who can forget the standard yellow sticky note?!

  • Jacque Watkins

    I’m currently journaling in my Moleskine, but would love to try something new, and more easily scannable!

  • Joe Handley

    I use both Evernote and Notes for the iPad and iPhone. They work fairly well but your new system sounds interesting. I would love to try it.

  • http://twitter.com/edwards_ep Ellis Edwards

    i’ve stuck with the moleskine notebooks for journaling and evernote for note taking. i love them both so much, but i’d hate to get stuck in my ways! thanks for this post!

  • Erin

    As a college student, I use Evernote for the iPad/iPhone to take class notes, and I’ve admittedly used the “picture” feature to snap photos of diagrams and other important aspects of a laboratory classroom. Never fear, though. My apps for blogging and going to church are all different, and I would recommend them to anyone!

    As a student blogger who’s constantly busy, I find it easier to take audio notes at times, rather than typing them straight into my iPhone! So, I use AudioNote, an app that lets me sync audio with text so that I have something to listen to and read when I sit down to blog my latest thoughts and ideas. Multi-sensory approaches help me to appeal to more readers, and thus, contribute to varied aspects of feedback.

    At church, I use the YouVersion Bible app to take notes and to bookmark and highlight certain verses in sermons and studies. In the app, you can attach associated references to the Bible text, which makes highlighting and keeping track of everything such a snap.

    Even though I love all these technologies as a young adult in the 21sf century, who can forget the standard yellow sticky notes?!

  • Jessica B

    I need a new system, as I am shifting from a career as a teacher (where I kept a variety of notepads on my desk) to a career in business (where I will be completely mobile and based out of my home). I’ve kept a Moleskine in my purse (for what seems like forever) to keep track of personal ideas, notes, lists.  I’m a user of Evernote, too, and I like your argument for the perforated pages in the Ecosystem.

  • Andrew Thomas

    I take notes on my phone, in evernote as of yesterday!  Also, I have a journal both on my computer and a physical moleskine journal.  Watched the video, now I’m intrigued.  Gotta go learn more about evernote.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mikehardin63 Mike Hardin

    I have used everything from a Franklin Planner before I went digital, the a hipster PDA afterward. This may be the perfect compromise when paired with Evernote.

  • Chadrgeorge

    I currently subscribe to the GTD system and have used a moleskin, however found it inefficient in having to recall info. Ever since employing evernote, I have moved much of what I do online. I have been using a notepad and then scanning each page. However, I like the look and feel of the moleskin, especially in meetings where a more polished image is desired. I am excited to try the ecosystem notebook. Adds the efficiency and professional appeal that I look for when taking notes.

  • Scott Kedersha

    Too many systems! Time to start getting organized – moleskin, evernote, Onenote, Word, etc….