During a presentation on emergency procedures, a res life/housing professional at my undergraduate school said that he always carries paper on his person. That’s a simple, seemingly innocuous observation, but I think it speaks to something fundamental about the profession. Res life folks need to be ready all of the time - crisis doesn’t occur on a schedule. That means being equipped to manage issues with little to no warning.
Good reporting and documentation is something that we learn early in our careers. Human memory is fragile and imprecise, so, ideally, we should be taking good notes whenever we do our work. I’ve tried - and hated - doing this digitally. Despite my attempts to be a paperless administrator, I keep coming back to hand-written notes when I’m doing work in my hall. Smartphones are handy, but I can’t get past the friction - pulling the phone out, opening up an app, creating a new text note, etc. Clicking a pen and writing continues to be the quickest way to solve the problem. This means I need paper.
I’ve been trying to follow in that administrator’s footsteps over the last year or so, with limited success. I carried a Moleskine notebook on rounds when I was an RA, so I started carrying a small one in my back pocket. It fell apart long before I had used all of the pages. It turns out that hard-shell paper notebooks don’t fare well when you sit on them every day.
Now, I’m trying out a pack of Field Notes - smaller, soft-cover notebooks. I’m hoping that they’ll hold up better in my pockets. They also have fewer pages, so I’m hoping that I can turn them over before I wear them out.
One day, I’ll find the notebook that can withstand the rigors of my back pocket. Then, maybe, I’ll be able to sustain this useful habit.