Let's face it - I'm a busy lady.
I always have been, I probably always will be - and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Across all of my working years, I've been savvy enough to pick up on tips, tricks and techniques employed by others to maximize efficiency and attempt to wrangle the endless work flow. I've been incredibly blessed to have worked alongside some of the most productive and creative people I've ever met, and you can bet your behind that I was paying very close attention to what they were doing and how they were doing it.
Of all the techniques I've seen, I can say with great certainty that the humble notebook promptly vaulted itself into Most Valuable Player status when it comes to work tools that actually help you get the job done.
We've all got our secret weapons, and this is mine, without a doubt.
It's not just a notebook. It's my day runner, my ever-present assistant that helps me manage the work flow and keep everything on point. Sure, I have all things digital at my disposal too - and I do use those to some degree. That said, you give me a notebook and a pen and I can run an empire.
Apps have their place, and I'm fairly nimble with all of that. Yet for me, nothing compares to the tangible, scribble-able and fully customize-able pages of an actual notebook. Old school? Maybe. Maybe not.
It all started way back in 1993, when I became a part of the team at the Special Events Office at Washington College as an incoming freshman for work study. If you're thinking that's a really sweet opportunity for a job, you're absolutely correct. I was excited, but also pretty darn green when it came to working in a bustling, vibrant office with high-priority events and high-impact guests.
My immediate supervisor Jessica was incredible: efficient, friendly, proactive, professional and just so fantastically good at what she did. The office on the whole was productive and always in motion. Naturally, I paid close attention, because I needed to get in step with the pace so that I could be a good team member.
One thing that I noticed almost immediately was the ever-present yellow legal pad - essentially, her day runner. Sure, we had calendars, our Day Timers (it was the 90's, after all) and all manner of dutiful Post-It note soldiers marching in line, but that yellow legal pad was her way of keeping total track of the work flow.
Incoming calls? On the legal pad. Deadlines, due dates, events, scheduling, contact logs and daily tracking of progress all made its way to her daily journal as a way of keeping up with the flow. It was brilliant, and so effective. Jot it down so that it's recorded and so that you can act on it as soon as possible - really helpful when the phone calls were rolling in and the moving parts kept moving.
I adopted the technique pretty much right away and had a legal pad of my own for the exact same purpose. Wow, did it make it easy to keep track of it all - and I have to say, the notebook-as-day-runner technique has been with me ever since.
Whether I was working in the Special Events Office, my early years of full-time management after college, to my ten years in Residential Property Management, my second wave of retail management in recent years, to my own business as a writing entrepreneur, there has been a notebook by my side the entire time.
This hard little worker has been my trusty assistant and worth its weight in gold when it comes to delivering all the organization that it takes for me to stay on top of my game.
I switched it up a bit in order to adjust to my current needs - the yellow legal pad (one page at a time) was set aside in favor of a classic spiral-bound notebook that I use in a very specific way.
Right side: a log that lays out the whole work week, giving me a spot to write deadlines, meetings, calls, and plans. I draw a big horizontal line 2/3 the way down to create a bottom section open for what I call my "news you can use," which is upcoming topic ideas, strategy points or anything on the horizon that I need to be ready to handle when more info becomes available.
Flip the notebook over and that whole left side is an open page for that week's brainstorming, call notes, a place to jot my research link notes and image ideas, sources, all the good stuff.
What a great way to keep track of everything on my radar and serve as effective record-keeping at the same time! It's so easy for me to review last week, prep next week, and have a dedicated spot to write down contemporaneous notes. It's easily searchable, too.
It's also a secret motivator: what satisfaction comes from crossing things off, writing 'done!' (Honestly, sometimes that's all the motivation I need.)
I did add a sidecar to the notebook - a smaller, narrow spiral-top notebook that receives all of the To Do lists for any number of assignments for work and in my personal life. Total lifesaver. Put the two together, and I'm essentially commanding the Starship Enterprise from the bridge (perhaps not as elegantly as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but you get the general idea).
It's pretty impressive that something as basic as a notebook can be so vital to my business - and at this point, I cannot fathom functioning without one. We're up to 26 years and counting. I always have one running and a fresh, new one waiting in the wings.
Of course my notebook is just a tool, because the true spirit of productivity comes from people. That brings me back to Jessica - what an impact she made on me so many years ago, through so much more than just a simple notebook. Her follow-up game was remarkable, and I saw that, too. She's been there for me in various ways ever since. I admire the heck out of her.
I'm so glad I was smart enough to pay close attention to someone already being effective in their role - and she continues to inspire me to this day. Artistic, vivacious, informed and involved, carving her space in business (and with the coolest handwriting you've ever seen). In addition to continuing her successes in the field of higher education, she followed her passion through art and developed the fabulous Salted Pink Studio as a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) and Mixed Media Explorer. You can learn more about her here: https://www.saltedpinkstudio.com - take a look around, you'll be glad you did.
You can bet that I'm absolutely still a fan and a friend. When you're lucky enough to encounter fabulous people like Jessica Davies, you pay attention. I'm so glad I did. I'd give my eye teeth just for the chance to work alongside her for the day to learn whichever snazzy organizational techniques she's picked up in the years since - there's no doubt that she's got some great stuff going. Were it not for geographical distance and my inability to teleport, I'm sure that day would be most possible.
As for my notebook and me, we're grateful for it all.
If you're in business and need high-quality blog content for your website, reach out today and we'll get started. Delegating your website and social media needs to Digital Heartbeat means that you'll have more time for your business tasks without missing a beat on your online presence. My notebook and I are ready to roll.