Why successful people take notes

If I told you the humble notebook could 10x your productivity AND your creativity, would you believe me?

I know, it’s a big promise right, so hear me out… Apps and gadgets may be cutting-edge. But that doesn’t mean ‘old school’ tools aren’t effective anymore. In fact, adopt the tools that other people set aside, and you can get a massive edge. Take the humble notebook for example.

There’s a good reason top performers including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Sheryl Sandberg swear by them.

With 70,000 thoughts racing through your head EVERY DAY how can you get the maximum amount of stuff done? It gets worse… a big chunk of thinking is repetitive and low-level. Not only is this chatter distracting and brain numbing, but it eats away at your bandwidth too.

And when you have less room for creative thinking and problem solving, it’s harder to be your best.

But keep a notebook in your hand, and you can do things differently.

Check out these 11 reasons why successful people take notes.

1. Prioritize your bandwidth

Your brain is notoriously bad at remembering things! And even if you do manage to hold onto a thought, you’ll forget the detail AND prevent your mind going on another creative tangent. It takes a lot of bandwidth to retain information. So get in the habit of writing stuff down. Use your notebooks as an ‘external brain’, which can store information, memos, to-dos, and ideas for you. With your brain released of the responsibility of remembering, you can put your intelligence to better use.

2. Turn a profit

Everything you see around you started as an idea in someone’s imagination. It’s as Napoleon Hill said, “Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes.” If you’re not leveraging and exploring your thoughts, you’ll have nothing to turn into money! Carry a notebook and make note-taking a habit. Eventually you’ll hit on an idea that strikes gold.

3. Generate more great ideas

Jim Rohn said it best. “Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.” Make note-taking a habit and you’ll be primed to capture ideas as soon as they show up. It’s true that not every idea will be a winner, but every creator and inventor will tell you that they had plenty of failures before striking lucky. The more you write down, the more chances you have of coming up with something that could actually go somewhere.

4. Ramp up your creativity

Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” When thoughts and ideas stay in your head, they don’t go anywhere. But write them down and you can tug on different threads and see where they end up. With your thoughts staring back at you in black and white it’s a lot easier to see how the dots join up. And as you build up a bank of ideas to connect up, you’ll become a better innovator.

5. Work the creative process

Good ideas aren’t predictable. You can sit for hours and get nowhere, then take a walk and suddenly your brain overflows with possibilities. That’s because great ideas rarely show up on demand. Instead, the best ones happen when your brain is relaxed or focused elsewhere. It’s why you get a brainwave or a Eureka moment when you’re walking in the park, taking a shower, or having a coffee with friends. An ever-ready notebook allows you to work this unpredictable process by ensuring you never miss a beat.

6. Retain more information

It might be old school, but studies show over and over that pen and paper helps you remember more than digital alternatives. Something happens when you form words and letters with your own hands and in your own unique writing style. So indulge yourself in old school tools. You may find that you remember more as a result.

7. Expect ideas to flow

The act of carrying a notebook is a declaration of sorts. It tells your brain that you expect to have ideas. That alone helps them flow more frequently. That’s because your brain is constantly solving problems based on the questions and situations you put to it. So if you’re mulling over an idea in the back of your mind or you’re looking for a way forward, having a notebook open is an invitation for the insights you want to flow.

8. No distractions

Sure, your phone is equipped to take notes – so can your laptop or desktop, but beware! With digital, you’re always one click away from distraction. A notification, an interesting headline, or an entertaining Instagram story and before you know it – boom! You’re lost inside the digital abyss. High performance and productivity thrives on focus – not multitasking – and that’s what you get with a physical notebook.

9. Open doors

Some ideas are dead ends, others open doors, and others grow into something extraordinary. But you won’t know which ones are which unless you write them down! That’s the value of a notebook. You can capture it all for processing and analyzing later.

10. Never lose a brilliant idea again

Have you ever had a brilliant idea in the most inconvenient of places? If you can’t write it down you’re left relying on your memory – and that can cause a headache. Ideas are fleeting – if you don’t grab them they’ll slip through your fingers and there’s nothing you can do about it. But write them down and they’re yours forever. What’s more, when you write ideas down in the moment, you can stretch them and play with them. You can follow what comes after the initial insight – and maybe even stumble across something amazing.

11. Know yourself better

Journaling is a powerful notebook practice that can help you reflect on your experiences, get in touch with how you feel, and work through challenges, roadblocks, and dilemmas. There are multiple ways to journal – so play around to figure out what’s right for you. You could journal to prompts (you’ll LOVE the Wordsmith Deck for this). You could write Morning Pages (Julia Cameron style) where you write a monologue of anything that flows to help clear your head. You could even journal around how you’re feeling or reflect on what you’re discovering. Whatever style you choose, I think you’ll be surprised by how much self growth this habit can drive.

Always be ready

Top-performers do note-taking differently.

They know ideas aren’t predictable and they can struggle to switch their busy, creative mind off.

They carry a notebook EVERYWHERE – so they can capture thoughts, random ideas, reflections, and brain dumps ANYTIME they show up.

Time you followed suit? If so, we’ve got the tools to help.

If you want something pocket-sized for idea generation on the go, pick the Sidekicks. These micro notebooks come in a pack of three and are ideal for popping in your bag or keeping in your jacket pocket. Gone are the excuses for being caught out empty-handed!

And if you want something bigger, then Scribe is for you. This top-notch notebook contains a stack of high-performance features including a ribbon bookmark, perforated corners, and an expandable back pocket.

Both notebooks are filled with high-quality, fountain pen friendly paper that’s a dream to write on.

So start your note-taking habit today with a notebook that best matches your needs and personality.