Notebooks. They are popping up everywhere and many people are creating new ones and adding themes to it. They happen to be one of the more popular items on Kickstarter and crowdfunding sites. But are notebooks just a fad? And why is there such a strong push for it lately? We’ll explore some really good and important reasons for journaling and what I learn by doing it daily.
Notebooks have been around for ages. They are nothing new. Since we were able to make paper, people have journaled. But in the last few years, notebooks have made a resurgence, perhaps as a counter-reaction to the 24/7 digital work where we scroll, flick, swipe, type and text.
There is something viscerally appealing about a notebook. It’s bound, it contours, its ability to close it… hold it in your hand and feel the emotions behind the words, pictures and ideas. If our thoughts are an extension of ourselves, then a notebook is a medium in which we are manifesting portions of ourselves into reality.
Back in the day – at least in my world, anyway – we used to call them “diaries”. Granted, “diaries” were more of the personal affair, for adolescents to write their deepest secrets and their latest crushes in. Journaling is much more than that: it’s still personal and there could be secrets in it, but the intention is slightly different. The objective of journaling is to explore and record our thoughts and ideas about business and in life in general. As an adult exercise, it is very effective in working out our ideas before we create them.
There are No Rules to Journaling
Having said all that, journaling is in-and-of-itself a ubiquitous exercise. The blank page is an invitation; anything is possible within its four edges. There is no process required and no rules to follow (except for maybe the lines on the page, but I tend to like blank pages myself.)
When you walk into your local bookstore, savvy vendors will know to include a stationary section with notebooks at its core. Just like reading, writing and idea forming should be a daily exercise. In many ways, reading and writing create a virtuous circle that should be traversed daily.
With that said, let’s look at reason #1 why journaling can increase your earning power for your freelancing business:
1. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
The only fear you should have is the fear of missing out on the best ideas that come to mind, just because you didn’t write it down.
Does this sound familiar?: “I have many “lightning insights” and moments of clarity throughout the day. I repeat them in my head a few times so as to not lose them, but my record is abysmal! If I were to guess, I would say over 70% are lost in the moment. If only I had a notebook to record it!”
Yes, sometimes it’s not as easy to lug a notebook around. But the fact is, you might not go back and review the notes that you type in your phone. There’s something unique about writing it down: one can often visualize exactly where in the notebook any particular thought is. It’s not a sure thing, but a dedicated notebook is something I’ve found to help enhance that experience for me and also to not lose out on amazing ideas.
2. Paying it Forward
This is what you do:
- Open it in the morning and write down your goals.
- Before you got to bed, write three things you’re grateful for.
It’s as simple as that.
It really helps to organize your thoughts and also spend a very short amount time on reflection. It encourages the habit of setting goals. Somehow writing them down makes you more accountable to them.
Being grateful is something we can all use a healthy dose of. In many scientific studies, gratitude has been known to enhance general well-being. Besides, being grateful helps you count your blessings and focus on the positive, while squeezing out any cloudy dispositions you may have in that moment.
3. Active Leisure
There’s something to be said about downtime and taking leisure. We’ve all heard about the benefits of taking a break, going on vacation, or going for a walk to physically get away. That’s all good, and what I would call Active Leisure.
Let me give an example of leisure activities that are more passive. You guessed it: watching TV is one of them. The brain waves when we’re watching TV are close to the ones emitted by someone about to fall asleep. So, no wonder we all have a tendency to nod off on the couch in the from the TV set! It’s so passive, TV watching, that it’s perceived as sleep by our brain.
I would consider journaling to be Active Leisure. You are free to do what you want: draw, doodle, write, cut up the paper and fold it up! It’s fun, it’s reflective and it’s focus is on you and taking you time.
The best thing about it is that even if it’s not taking a break from it all, journaling is best used for when you have thoughts on your mind that you want to express, just for yourself. What better place to do so?
4. For the Future
Like most worthwhile endeavors, it’s the long-term consistency that get results. Have you heard of the 20-mile march? It’s a story about two groups of soldiers led by two very different generals, asked to walk 20 miles to get to a site.
General #1 told the troops to get there as soon as possible. They marched day and night, through thick and thin.
General #2 led the troops so that they walked during the day and rested at an appropriate time, and then completed the journey the next day.
Can you guess who had the better strategy? Well, I can tell you that General #1’s group were so tired that they didn’t make it to their destination! There are 2 key morales of the story: 1) take breaks, and 2) do a little bit each day.
Of course, the notebook in-and-of-itself will not make anyone better at anything. But with the daily practice of journaling, you will see rewards down the road.
Jeff Bezos, the Founder and CEO of Amazon.com and more recently the rocket-ship company Blue Origin, has said that the successes they celebrate today are the results of actions taken 4-5 years ago. That’s how long it can take to reap rewards of a newly adopted mindset or business endeavour.
So how do you select a good notebook?
I would categorize notebooks into the following types:
See what suits you best. You can even use different notebooks for different topics to help you work on many things at once!
What do YOU use your notebook for? Comment below!