While the abundance of apps on our smartphones and tablets these days are helping us to stay motivated, organised and save precious time, our love of putting pen to paper hasn’t gone away.
In fact, notebooks are making something of a cool comeback, with over 2 million posts on Instagram alone showcasing not only their design outside, but the many new methods for note taking inside.
The power of documenting goals for success has long been recognised, and endorsed by business legends like Richard Branson, who is rarely seen without his trusty notebook underarm.
But there are many more proven ways that using a notebook makes us more productive, including:
1. To-Do List
This is more than a saviour of our failing memories. The action of writing down the myriad of tasks floating around our brains is known to make us feel less stressed. Then we get that satisfied feeling each time something gets crossed out on the list. All of which makes us feel more motivated to keep going.
2. Goal Setting
The other popular use for notebooks is to organise our goals, be they goals to achieve today, or a 7-year life plan. This makes us more productive in part because we feel bound to do something once it’s committed to paper, and partly because it helps to keep us on track and avoid spending time on things counterproductive to our end game.
Positive people are productive people. A study at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity in the workplace. The act of noting down positive things we are grateful for at the end of each day is just one known way of maintaining our own happiness levels.
4. Learn Better
One of the most common reasons we use a notebook is to remind ourselves of key pieces of learning at things like study lectures, training or conferences. But more than the benefit of having it noted down, it’s been proven that we take more information in and remember things better, when we write them down as we’re listening/watching.
5. Critical Thinking
One of the lesser known skills we practice while we take notes is “critical thinking” – the ability to analyse a piece of information and find the key points. We are forced to do this when we take notes because we simply can’t write fast enough to transcribe verbatim!
Of course notebooks aren’t always used for a specific purpose. Sometimes we might just feel the need to jot down lots of ideas to get them out of our heads. That could be because we’re planning an idea or working through a problem. Notebooks stop us from trying to edit and organise the ideas quickly, the way we can on a computer, and therefore leads to better brainstorming sessions.
Doodling is another way we use out notebooks that’s often written off as a waste of time. In actual fact, doodling has been proven to reduce stress and improve productivity levels.
Notebooks, unlike diaries, don’t confine us to doing certain tasks at certain times per se, but they actually do provide us plenty of ways to use our time more effectively. This can involve noting ideas before they lost because we don’t have time, or aren’t in the right frame of mind to work on them. This is especially useful for people who have their best brain waves just before they fall asleep!
Linked to scheduling goals and tasks is the benefits of tracking them for our productivity. Online tools or apps don’t often allow us the appreciation of looking at a full notebook and seeing just how much work we’ve done or flicking through all the things we’ve achieved. This can affect confidence and motivation, which are key players for our productivity.
10. Tech Problems
How many hours do we think we waste each year battling with technology trouble? Whether it’s being incapacitated by a flat battery of staring in frustration at the spinning wheel on screen, a notebook will never present us with these problems. And carrying one around means that we can stay productive even if technology fails us.
The other big productivity killer in technology is how easy it is for us to be sucked in by digital distractions. Social media, emails and app notifications can all pull us away from the task at hand. Here, again, notebooks suffer from none of these setbacks.
12. Size and safety
Two of the main reasons people find themselves without a laptop or tablet for spontaneous note taking or written work is because they decided that morning that a device was either too heavy or too much of a theft risk to bring with them. A small notebook in tow ensures we never miss an opportunity to note a great idea or use spare time productively.
13. Screen Time
Being without a device isn’t always a bad thing, either. We know that we’re advised to take breaks, for our eyesight, our back health and things like sleeping better at night. A notebook allows us to have healthier options for working during these screen breaks, simultaneously boosting our physical and mental wellbeing.
14. Better Sleep
As mentioned above, notebooks can help us fall gently into a better night’s restful sleep, which is one of the most important factors in determining how productive we will be the following day. Also, if we do suffer from that mid-afternoon slump, taking notes is one way to counter the tiredness, because it keeps our bodies physically engaged while we listen.
15. Immune System
Catching a cold or other illness is probably one of the biggest threats to our productivity levels. While a good night’s sleep and a healthy lifestyle are keys to keeping bigs at bay, reducing our stress levels is important too. Taking notes before bed helps to empty our brains of worries and tasks that would try to rob us of a good night’s sleep.
Laura McLoughlin writes for My Own Stationery, a leading personalised stationery e-seller based in Northern Ireland. At over 100 years old, they have considerable manufacturing experience in the making of paper stationery products, and are dedicated to eco-friendly production with Swan label, FSC and PEFC certification.