If you find yourself forgetting things, thinking up great ideas and losing them a few hours later, feeling a bit disorganized and disheveled, your salvation might just come in the form of a small reporter's notebook and a small pen that can fit in your pants pocket.
Carrying a notebook everywhere with me – usually in my back pants pocket – has helped me immensely over the years. Getting in the habit of carrying it with you and being willing to use it whenever you have anything particularly noteworthy (no pun intended) to jot down will positively impact your life in so many ways – and that's not hyperbole. Just carrying the notebook is such a small act, since it only takes about 5 seconds for you to grab it and stuff it your your pocket, but its effects are enormous. I've been doing it religiously for the better part of two years and my notebooks are my prized possessions. I wouldn't have even remembered to write this post had it not been for my notebooks!
The Top Reasons To Start Carrying a Notebook
1. Outsource your memory. With a simple notebook, you don't have to remember everything anymore. If you have to do something, you can add it to your running to-do list for the day and not forget it. The notebook will allow you to stay organized and on top of your obligations. If you have less things to remember, your mind will be less cluttered, to boot. Less mental clutter means you'll be able to think and act with much more clarity than normal.
2. Keep all of your ideas, bad and good. If you're anything like me, your best ideas come to you when you're out doing something completely unrelated to the problem that needs solving or the project you're working on. Instead, your best ideas and your glorious epiphanies come to you while you're out shopping for groceries, taking a run, or while you're taking your kids to football practice. With the notebook, you can capture all of your best ideas without having to forget them and agaonize over trying to make them 'come back' to you. That translates to better performance at work, since you'll retain all of your best ideas.
3. Use it as a time machine. Your notebook, if you record more than just your ideas and things to do, can become very powerful. One thing I like to do, considering I'm a personal development blogger, is to record my moods and my reflections on my days. I'll record my ideas on how I can make my life better, and little tips and tricks I can do to improve myself – which are often in response to events or projects that are going on in my life. I count these as "micro-journal" entries (I like to say that a notebook is to a journal as Twitter is to blogging), and I date them. When I flip through my notebooks at the end of the month (and a year later), it's like going back and time as I relive the memories of where I was and what I was going through when I was writing my notes. Also, the ideas I neglect at one time often come up much later and become rather useful. If you document things well enough, you might see a correlation between your activities and your best!
ideas. It's all in how many notes you take and how you choose to use your notebook!
4. Create gratitude. I don't recommend doing this with your physical pocket notebook, but instead do it with an online note client like Evernote. What you want to do is create a "positivity list", a list where you jot down everything that was remotely positive about your day. As things happen, you can jot it down in your pocket notebook (so you don't forget to include it later!), and then write the full list later on your digital notebook. (I also recommend exporting all your notes to a digital notebook so you can access them all at once rather than having to flip through your notebook)
The result of making your positivity list will be a heightened attention to the positives in life – which will make you feel much lighter and be more grateful for the things we have in life. More gratitude is always a good thing, right? I've found that keeping a positivity list has made me feel much better, day-in, day-out, as I've used it.
What Are You Waiting For?
For such a small investment, carrying a notebook brings great rewards. If you're adamant about taking notes, you'll forget much less, you'll be able to keep track of all your best ideas, you'll be able to go back in time and revisit your old ideas, and you can create much more positivity.
Notebooks are extremely cheap – you can get a 5-pack of reporter's notebooks for $3 here in the USA, and pens shouldn't be hard to find.
The time investment for taking notes is very small as well. You'll spend a grand total of 5 minutes on your notebook on a given day, if that, and the rewards will bring you much more peace of mind and will make you a more effective worker.
Sometimes, the smallest of changes and habits can bring the greatest results. For me, carrying a notebook around has been one of those.