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How to Use a Notebook to Make 2008 the Best Year Ever

How to Use a Notebook to Make 2008 the Best Year Ever
How to Use a Notebook to Make 2008 the Best Year Ever

    The notebook has been around forever. Do you remember your first one? It probably had very wide lines and perhaps a spiral binding. You used a fat pencil and traced letters until they became second nature. Before long you learned script. Then you migrated to pens. Some of you, dear readers, are now Moleskine aficionados and are selective and perhaps downright snooty about your pen choice. The lefties here might have learned that it is easier to start at the back of a notebook so that you don’t rub your hand across that lump of the binding as you write. (The righties here don’t get that sentence – nevermind, read on righties.)

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    By now you are probably just as comfortable with a keyboard as writing. And, to make 2008 the best year ever this Black Belt activity requires you to stop using that keyboard. Don’t panic, I’m talking about just 15 minutes per day when your notebook reigns.

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    Here’s the activity (the why comes later):

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    1. Get a timer and set it for 15 minutes – use the one on your cell phone, a freestanding one ($10 at a general merchandise store in the kitchen section), or the one on your watch.
    2. Go to a place with few distractions – consider a conference room, a coffee shop, the sofa in your home in a low activity room (only put on music with no words such as classical or zen music), and do not stay at your desk.
    3. Open your notebook.
    4. Start your timer.
    5. Stare into space or close your eyes and see what pops into your mind.
    6. Once a topic comes to mind, write it on your notebook and stop thinking about it. You’ve put it on your list so that you won’t forget the topic. You’ve put it on your list to clear you mind of that issue, thought, concern, action item ‘to do’, discussion, etc. Do not replay full discussions. If one comes up, write the topic and hit “pause” on your mental replay.
    7. Hang in there for 15 minutes. Keep letting go of topics and wait for the next. Breathe easy. Stay still. For some of us that will be 15 minutes that feels like an hour. Others will fall asleep this time. Try not to do that next time. Some will have three things in the notebook for the session. Others will have 23 notes. The goal is to make room in your day and mind to let things come to mind that are squeezed out during the crazy busy distraction-filled time with family and co-workers.
    8. When the alarm goes off, return to your routine. Take your notebook with you and integrate the most important idea with your plan for ‘what’s next’.
    9. Repeat daily.

    It’s most effective if you put that 15-minute block of time right on your calendar and respect the appointment with yourself as if it were a meeting with Warren Buffet, Oprah, or Tiger Woods.

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    Why you shouldn’t use a keyboard: distractions. There are too many temptations to do other things when you’re at your keyboard and computer. Few of us can be at our desk and computer with the lack of distractions that is required to have your notebook be the key to making 2008 your best year ever.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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