Everybody needs a notepad

It’s really hard to believe, but I have to say that one of the most—and possibly the most—profound changes I’ve made in my life over the last several years was the simple decision to start carrying a pocket notebook and a pen with me wherever I go. Unless I’ve made a mental miscue when swapping out a finished notebook or something, I do not leave the house without my pocket notebook resting in my hip pocket or my shirt pocket, with a trusty pen right there beside it for jotting notes.

This post originally appeared on The Simple Dollar.

The Benefits of a Pocket Notebook

Why has this been such a profound switch for me? Simply put, it’s helped me in every single aspect of my life.

I don’t forget names or phone numbers or other contact information.Sure, I can put that information into my smartphone, but this ensures that I’ll always be able to do it, even if my smartphone is out of battery life. This also lets me add specific notes about the person right after their contact information so that I know why I jotted it down rather than just tossing a number into my phone without any context.

If I discover a task that I need to do, it’s immediately saved so I don’t forget about it. I don’t have to try to hold it in my head and hope that I remember it later. I just pull out my notebook anywhere and jot it down.

When I have a fleeting idea, I don’t lose it or have to work extra hard to remember it. Sometimes, I’ll have a great idea for an article for The Simple Dollar or hear a great idea on a podcast or on the radio. A note in my pocket notebook enables me to remember it so that I can investigate it further when the time is more convenient.

I don’t get distracted nearly as much by those fleeting ideas, either. When these ideas pop into my head, I either have to try to hold them in my head for a while until I have an opportunity to do something with them, which distracts me from whatever I’m doing, or I have to let them go. A pocket notebook solves this dilemma, as I can just write down that idea immediately and move back to the task at hand without that thought distracting me or without having to lose it.

I’m much better at learning things, both when I plan to or when an opportunity for learning pops up unexpectedly. Through using my pocket notebook for taking notes during classes, lectures, and so forth, I’ve landed upon a very good strategy that really works well for absorbing and processing the new things that I learn. I’ll explain that in detail in a bit, but the pocket notebook was key.

My “brainstorming” is much more effective than ever before. Not only can I brainstorm almost anywhere that I’m at, the results of that brainstorm are already part of a trusted system, so I can pick up the results of that brainstorm at a later date and actually do something with it.

These things—and many others—have contributed greatly to the quality of my personal, professional, and spiritual life.

Final Thoughts

These days, I rarely leave home without my pocket notebook. It’s become such an essential part of my daily routine that I don’t even think about grabbing it when an idea pops into my head. I just pull out the notebook, jot down that idea or that fact, and put it back, almost without any effort at all.

It saves me time. It saves me money. It helps me build social connections. It helps me to learn. It helps me to avoid forgetting important things.