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Keep Your Notes in Order with the Daily Scratchpad


Image courtesy of
London Permaculture

The following is a guest post by Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project

We’re all looking for ways to work both faster and calmer, and I recently hit on a trick that keeps my desk tidier and my thoughts clearer.

One of my most annoying habits is my tendency to scribble down important phone numbers, “Don’t forget!!!” notes, and helpful URLs on any piece of paper that happens to be cluttering up my desk.

An hour later, I throw away what appears to be trash, or I flip over a piece of paper —and the key info vanishes. Or even if the information was still there, I have no idea what it means. Sure, that phone number has a star by it, so it must be important—but I can’t remember whose number it is.

I’ve hit on a neat workday solution: a “scratch paper for the day.” I keep a pad of paper by the phone, and anytime I have the urge to make a note, I discipline myself only to use that pad of paper. At the end of the day, I toss the piece of paper, after copying anything I need to keep on the next day’s paper.

It has made an astonishing difference to my sense of order. I’m not surrounded by illegible scribbles that may—or may not—be critically important. When I need information, I can easily find it.

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