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In my 28 years in the Air Force, I saw many Army officers carrying notebooks. And not any notebook; it was typically a green hardback that could fit in their cargo pants pocket. I never understood the draw. Kevin Kruse, Author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know about Time Management, finally explained it in a way I could understand.

Writing something down will help you act on it, If you think of something clever, but don’t write it down, you may not be able to remember it when you need it. Many famous people swear by journals or notebooks.

I have always preferred lists that I can line through and move on. Yes, I’m the type of person that writes something down just so I can cross it off. Of course, now I put things on my calendar instead (at Kruse’s suggestion). I never understood the point of retaining all those notes that I don’t need anymore. But, as I worked my way through this book, I decided to give it a try.

I still catch myself jotting things on the back of scrap paper (a trait my subordinates hated when I was in the Air Force), but then I take the time to transcribe them into my notebook. When I have moments of down time—usually while waiting to pick up my daughter from track practice—I thumb through my notebook. I find things I thought were a good idea and reflect on them. Now that they’ve had time to stew in my brain, I can either add to the thought, schedule it for action, or dismiss it as not workable. I still like to cross things off, but now I keep them to remind myself what I’ve done and what I’ve learned.

In some respects, it also acts as a diary of sorts. As I read back through the posts, I can see what I was working on at a particular time, who I met with, what meetings I attended. I’m not in the military anymore so I have opted for catchy covers that make me happy when I look at them, rather than the olive-green, Army-style. It sure beats having little pieces of scratch paper all over my desk.

Someday I may discover the makings of a story in all those scribbles, so I guess it’s worth keeping.

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