The Great Benefits of an Old School Notebook

On a recent episode of the Less Doing Podcast (#100), there was a great segment in the end, where a group of health and productivity experts gave their best tips for being more effective in life.

A guy named Stephen Robbins talked about how his best advice for productivity was getting a beautiful notebook. More specifically a notebook from Moleskine.

Being the big productivity nut, that I am, I had to try it. So I went out and bought one for myself.

I have now had a few weeks to get familiar with my notebook, and I would therefore like to tell you why I love it so much as well.


It’s physical/it’s a ritual

I want to emphasize what I just said. It is my notebook.

It is like an extension of my own brain, that I carry around with me everywhere I go. It turns in to something very private, and you don’t feel “complete” if you walk out the door without it.

Your brain is a very fluid thing. It changes constantly, comes up with new ideas and then suddenly forgets them again. A notebook is a physical thing, you can use it to capture those fluid thoughts. Once they are written down, they don’t go away again.

At some point, you also begin to make the subconscious connection between opening up the notebook physically, and opening up your brain for new ideas. It becomes a ritual.


Great for idea lists

I am reading this great book by James Altucher right now: Choose Yourself

In it, he talks about how you can become an “idea machine”, that comes up with new ideas for great businesses and ways to change the world.

He prescribes making idea lists every day. Lists of 10 ideas, that doesn’t have to be good at all – they just have to be ideas. The logic is, after a year of doing this, you should have about 3600 ideas, and you can at least expect a few of them to be good.

To me, coming up with idea lists like that, is infinitely better done in hand, than in an Evernote document. You get to reflect over them again, when you eventually put all the best ones in to Evernote later, when you want to make them searchable. But when making the first draft, you should just write them down.


Adds another layer of creative possibility

What if you are writing about an idea, and then quickly want to do a drawing for the concept? Good luck doing that on your computer (quickly)!

Let’s say you get a new idea for structuring your website. Are you going to write with words, what it is going to look like? Most certainly not.


Better for structuring and editing

Before writing this article, I quickly wrote out the structure in hand. One advantage of doing it like that, is that you can see the whole picture on your page. Often times, when you do it on your computer, you need to scroll up and down to see everything, and you quickly loose the sense of the full picture.

When you start to edit and changing the original structure, you are still able to see your first draft, because you can’t delete anything. On a computer, you most likely delete everything you originally wrote, when you change something. This makes it hard to go back and see, if something from the original structure was actually better.

Again, when editing, you can also quickly make drawings like arrows and other symbols.


Remember more

Some months ago, a study came out saying, students where better able to remember stuff, if they wrote it down in hand, instead of typing it on a computer.

Maybe, it is because it takes longer, and you get to reflect on the concept for a longer time.

Maybe, it is because it requires more and different muscles to write with a pen, and the memory get stored better because of the greater physical engagement.

Maybe, it is because writing in hand resembles making a drawing/making art much more than writing on a computer, and the human brain is much better at remembering pictures than written sentences.

Maybe, it is a little bit of everything – I don’t know.


Anyway, as you can hear – I like walking around with a notebook in my bag a lot. Maybe you will too.

Thanks for reading!

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Max Micheelsen

I'm a simplifier, Love efficiency in all forms, Beleive in a slow lifestyle, enabled via smart solutions

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