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One Surprising Secret of Highly Productive People

Stashed in: LinkedIn, Star Wars!, @oprah, Productivity, @sherylsandberg, Mark Twain, @richardbranson, Writing!, Life Hacks, Notebooks!, George Lucas

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Notebooks / Journals :

Sheryl Sandberg. According to Michael Helft at Fortune: “[Sheryl’s] days are a flurry of meetings that she runs with the help of a decidedly undigital spiral-bound notebook. On it, she keeps lists of discussion points and action items. She crosses them off one by one, and once every item on a page is checked, she rips the page off and moves to the next. If every item is done 10 minutes into an hour-long meeting, the meeting is over.”

Richard Branson wrote in his autobiography, “…my most essential possession is a standard-sized school notebook, which can be brought at any stationary shop on any high street across the country. I carry this everywhere and write down all the comments that are made to me by Virgin staff and anyone else I meet. I make notes of all telephone conversations and all meetings, and I draft out letters and lists of telephone calls to make....the discipline of writing everything down ensures that I have listened to people carefully.”

Oprah Winfrey has kept a handwritten journal since she was 15. She has written, “It's a wonder that I've managed to be a successful human being considering how pathetic I appeared in many of my daily musings. It's a testament to growth and grace that I've come this far…In my 40s, I got wiser. I started using journals to express my gratitude — and watched my blessings multiply. What you focus on expands.”

And just for the geeks among us, while George Lucas worked on Star Wars for 8 hours a day from a secluded writing room, according to Brett & Kate McKay, “…he also carried a pocket notebook with him at all times for taking down ideas, words, and plot angles on the go. While mixing the sound for American Graffiti with Walter Murch, Murch asked Lucas for R2, D2, meaning Reel 2, Dialogue 2. Lucas liked the sound of that phrase and jotted it down in his notebook. This little note would of course come in handy later for the naming of that now famous robot. Names like Jawa and Wookie also began as quick scribbles in Lucas’ notebook.”

Mark Twain. The McKays write, “Twain kept 40-50 pocket notebooks over four decades of his life. He often began one before embarking on a trip. He filled the notebooks with observations of people he met, thoughts on religion and politics, drawings and sketches of what he saw on his travels, potential plots for books, and even ideas for inventions (he filed 3 patents during his lifetime). Many of his entries consist of the short, witty, pithy sentences he is famous for. He felt that if he did not write such things down as they came to his mind he would quickly forget them.”

Makes sense to me.

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