Everyone who works with Gary Keller carries a notebook. In fact, new employees are presented with one on their first day. It’s not really optional behavior. Why? The best professionals adopt the mindset of a lifelong learner. They are learning-based.
It’s not about knowledge for knowledge’s sake but rather knowledge for doing’s sake. They reject taking action from ignorance and ignore, trivial pursuits—they want knowledge that helps them get better, that gives them an edge. They refuse to stop learning and growing, which is one reason they consistently outperform the rest.
Carrying a notebook encourages this mindset. It invites you to take notes, to capture your ideas and record your thoughts. Sound familiar? It should. You carried a notebook for the first 20-some years of life. Think back to the first day of school each year. What is the one thing you always brought – even before shopping for supplies? A notebook.
So we say it’s time to revisit that K-12 habit! Here are three reasons every professional should carry a notebook:
1. It Will Make You Smarter
It’s been proven in several studies that the physical act of writing increases students’ learning. Surprisingly, muscles in the fingers give the brain stronger feedback when writing than typing, which helps with retention. It engages different brain circuits than typing does.
Similarly, it’s been reported that handwriting aids in memory. For example, if you write a list and then lose it, you are more likely to remember the items on the list than if you had simply read or typed them.
2. It Will Make You More Purposeful
Notebooks allow you to organize your thoughts, begin meetings with a purpose, be an active listener during them and revisit your notes at any time. What message does it send to your client when you’re taking notes on their wants and needs? Not to mention the fact that your notes can serve as a written record of everyone’s expectations. This is not just useful when you want to refresh your memory, it can help avoid conflict and even litigation when misunderstandings occur.
After meetings and appointments, Gary advises a quick review of your notes to highlight key take-aways, jot down questions and outline next steps for yourself and others. This process will help you zero in on your AHAs and your action items.
3. It Will Make You More Creative
Have you ever stopped to think about what the greatest artists, authors, innovators and inventors all share? They carry notebooks and rely on the paper and pen to capture their revolutionary ideas. An almost universal thread among the creative class has been their affinity for note taking. And, there are several arguments as to why.
First off, using a pen and paper is not restrictive in any way. You can sketch, write, circle, doodle and question anything you like at any given moment. You might say using a notebook actually combats creative blocks. It even promotes total left-field creation, which is sometimes the most successful. Plus, it’s a medium that everyone knows and can interact with that doesn’t seem too finalized, which begs for feedback and collaboration. And, lastly, it’s easily accessible anywhere at any time – you don’t have to switch it off for takeoff and landing.
Notebooks come in all shapes and sizes from the unassuming Mead to the fashionable Moleskin. Some prefer Perry Mason’s yellow legal pads, while others go for Columbo’s pocket-size reporter’s notebook.
Whatever you choose, just remember school is never out for the best professionals. You have the opportunity to learn and grow as long as you’re willing to be a student.
And students—like the best professionals—carry notebooks.