I used to think that my brain alone could remember all that needs to be done, and so, I have lived twenty or so years of my life despising and mocking the existence of notebooks, agendas, and people who vouch for the absolute usefulness of these stationary tools. Up until now, I truly did not believe that a simple book of bounded blank pages could change your entire life, so what you’re about to read is a highly unlikely love story…
It was the first day of work, and I brought with me a brand new notebook, fully expecting it to meet the fate of its many predecessors – in the recycling bin, half-used, but before I know it, there was so much new knowledge, practices, routines, names, culture and tasks thrown in my way that, for the first time ever, my brain was overwhelmed. I couldn’t possibly remember everything I was being told! Desperately, I reached for the notebook like a lifeline and started scribbling away furiously, clinging onto every word and instruction, hoping that would at least keep me afloat. From that day onwards, I quickly developed the habit of writing down the details and steps of every new job I’m tasked with, and my relationship with my notebook blossomed.
Besides helping to retain all the new knowledge, my notebook also plays a big part in helping me stay organized. Every morning, before I start the day’s work, I sit down with my notebook to go through what I’ve done the day before and what needs to be done today. This calming ritual of writing things down grounds and organizes my thoughts, saving me loads of time and effort of having to retrieve them in my brain before they drift into a forgotten abyss. The same daily task list also keeps me on track with deadlines. Sure, I’ve got co-workers and supervisors to remind me, but they’re only human and reminding one too many times can make them run out of patience. My notebook is different, since the only thing it will be running out of is paper. Once a task is written down, it will sit there, motionless, taunting me to finish even the tasks I dread the most, just so I can scratch it off the page satisfyingly at the end of the day.
What started out as a daily log of mundane and trivial tasks has become a how-to guide of all the tasks I have performed. My notebook has become a growth map as each recorded mistake turns into experience, and as uncertainty turns into confidence; it came to me at the perfect time. In the most hectic period of my life where my soul, mind and body were all playing catch up with the blur of time and knowledge, my notebook helped capture all my moments of growth, so that I am now able to look back on my journey and smile to myself for the person I’ve become.