There are a few things I don't quite feel right leaving home without. My wallet, my keys, my Swiss-army knife, a pen and my pocket notebook. (Also, pants. You'd be amazed the looks you get from the neighbors).
The notebook helps me keep track of all the things my organizationally-challenged brain would otherwise forget, lets me jot down half-formed thoughts and record new contact information faster than I could otherwise type it into a cell phone.
My usual instrument of choice has been the Moleskine Cahiers little black notebook. These little cardboard-covered companions are extremely pocketable and sturdy enough to come along on my daily adventures. Being the size they are I can even carry a few of them to organize different things, I simply label the covers to differentiate categories. Also, the back pages are perforated to allow you to easily share a note or jot down your phone number.
These work fine, are relatively affordable and I'm used to them. But I'm always willing to experiment when the cost is low enough, and in all honesty I just like notebooks (it's a writer thing, ok?).
The first couple of alternatives I'm going to try are a pack of Moleskine look-alikes from Target, which run about $4.50 a three-pack, and the Rhodia No. 11 pads which run a bit less than $2 each.
I'll carry each one around for a bit, write in it with a few different implements and, if I'm feeling really destructive, run each of 'em though the wash in a pants pocket to see how they hold up. Then I'll report my findings back here over the next few weeks.
I welcome your suggestions for others I might want to try. My requirements are as follows:
1. They cost less than $5 per a notebook (or $15 a three-pack, in other words).
2. They fit in a typical shirt pocket.
3. They're available at brick-and-mortar locations in Central New Jersey.
4. They can be written on with regular pen or pencil.