Notepads are one of the most underestimated business tools on the planet. No, I’m not talking about ‘notepad’ computers, or even the program you get with Windows; I’m talking about the good old pad of lined paper that you write on with a pen.
In case you’d forgotten about this little piece of hardware, read on and we’ll take a look at why every manager, every entrepreneur and every business leader should carry and use their notebooks regularly.
The Power of the Pen
The pen is mightier than the sword remember! And it can still put up a good fight against the computer too.
You see, no matter how powerful your smartphone is, it will still lack the sheer convenience of a good notepad and pen. For taking quick notes there’s still nothing better and it dominates in terms of versatility too. Let’s say you were a genius physicist in a restaurant and you came up with a unified theory of everything… what would you rather jot it down on? Your iPhone or a piece of paper? With a notepad you can write quickly but you can also edit on the fly, add notes in the margin draw illustrations and do maths – and all while viewing the entire page of work at once.
On top of this you can also rely on a pen and paper to never run out of battery, to never crash and lose your files and to always work just the way it should. You can tear out pages and attach them to your notice board, and you can quickly find things you wrote ten months ago by simply flicking through some pages.
A Universal Tool
Here’s something else you can do with a notepad and pen that you can’t do with an iPhone: tear out a page and give it to your colleague. Again this might not seem important, but if you want to give someone your number at a trade show for instance, draw them directions to get to your office, or quickly sketch what you want a designer to do for your website, then this can be incredibly useful. You can even use a notepad as a way to bridge language barriers by drawing what you’re thinking of. Best of all, it doesn’t matter if the person you’re speaking to has an Android or a Windows Phone or if they’re a complete technophobe: everyone understands a notepad!
All this makes the notepad and pen a great combination to carry with you at all times and to keep ready at your desk.
Productivity Tips for Notepads
Hopefully by now you’ll be convinced that the notepad and pen have a place in your pocket but you may still be wondering how to start using it to increase your productivity. Here are some quick uses for them that will help you to work more efficiently and get more done in a day…
Desk Buddy: Keep your notepad open on your desk while you work and you’ll find it’s perfect for writing quick notes. This can mean doing maths or jotting down facts while you write or research on your computer, which will help to keep your screen less cluttered as well as your brain. Better yet, using this strategy will mean your pad will be open when you next get a phone call which will allow you to take down numbers and arrange dates without having to go and ‘find a pen’.
To-Do Lists: To-do lists are incredibly effective tools for organising a large workload and getting a lot done in a day. If you’re worried that you have so much to do you might forget some of it, or just need to put it into context so that you can get your head around your day’s tasks; then a to-do list will allow you to work through each job in a systematic manner so that you can end the day confident that you’ve accomplished every pressing task. A notebook is the perfect place for a to-do list too as you can keep it open and in front of you all day without it getting in the way.
Checklists: Checklists are also incredibly useful as a way to avoid mistakes. Research shows that even when we know a task inside out, using checklists can help us to avoid mistakes and improve efficiency.
Workpad: Got five minutes to spare? Then a notepad will allow you to use them productively by thinking on a problem and allowing you to visualise what you’re struggling with. Even just writing down problems can help you to work towards a solution more effectively.
So next time you’re waiting in a queue at the bank, or you’re on hold on the phone, get your notebook out and start looking for solutions or thinking about ways to improve your business. You’ll find that you come up with some of your best ideas this way and that you’re far more likely to act on them too.
Memory Aid: A notebook is a great place to write down a note to yourself (it’s more professional than the back of your hand), but it’s also a great tool for taking notes in a presentation or when watching an instructional video. This way you’ll have notes that you can refer back to – but even just the act of noting down key points will make you more likely to remember them.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg with regards to what a notebook is capable of. Start carrying one with you and you’ll find many more – and that it quickly becomes an integral part of your workflow. Who needs and iPad anyway?
(Writing by Gregory Fisher; Editing by Amy Canter, Todd Aitken, and Megan Batchelor) Gregory Fisher, is the Founder and CEO of Berkeley Sourcing Group. He started BSG eight years ago after realizing the need for efficient processes and coordination between manufacturing firms located in the United States and factories in China. [image: Antoine Robiez]
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