In a hyper-digital world, setting time aside and putting pen to paper has become the ultimate luxury––and a powerful form of self-care. It signals a conscious decision to step away from the fast pace society often pushes us towards, eschew mainstream forms of communication, and take time to consider what it is we want to say, either to ourselves or to others.
An email is surely faster to send than a hand-written thank you note––and so is typing on our phones’ 'notes' sections than collecting our thoughts, ideas, or emotions in a notebook. It’s also safer to know that you are always a button away from deleting your mistake on a screen––something physical notebooks can’t provide.
But when did safe or comfortable ever yield progress or positive results?
The answer is never. Embracing the art of writing and keeping physical track records of your thoughts, dreams, or ideas is more important than ever in a world where increased screen time and the trap of doomscrolling are threatening our ability to get creative and think independently.
This is why Intelligent Change has decided to introduce a new series of notebooks, featuring soothing neutral shades and premium bespoke paper which is ethically-made and feels as smooth as silk.
There's also intricate details like a pocket at the back where you can collect inspiring magazine tear outs or notes to yourself, as well as two ribbons so you can mark important pages you want to return to.
Inside, the lined pages are designed as a blank canvas for you to record thoughts, notes, and moments of inspiration––you'll only find brief quotes subtly placed at the bottoms of pages to get you going on days where you might experience writers' block.
Through premium quality and the best sustainable materials, the aim is to highlight how precious the notebook can be as a design object and also as a tool for personal development. Ultimately, it holds some of the owner's most personal information and innermost thoughts, so it deserves to be treated with care and respect.
This deeply personal element associated with notebooks also means that the sky really is the limit in how an individual can use it: Brainstorming a new business idea, planning a holiday, sketching, or jotting down wish lists and life goals.
Throughout history and up until today, successful people around the world have spoken about the power in the simple act of keeping a notebook nearby at all times––and offer the ultimate source of inspiration on how to adopt the habit in your own life.
"Anyone who aspires to lead a company must develop a habit of taking notes. I carry a notebook everywhere I go," says Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson.
He's not alone. The great designer Karl Lagerfeld always spoke about keeping a beautifully-designed notebook by his bed so that he can record his dreams as soon as he wakes up and not forget them. The practice was a big part of how he could constantly come up with ideas and simultaneously head multiple design teams around the world. For avid dreamers, you can even use a dedicated notebook to record the ideas and visions which come up in your sleep, like our Night Notes journal.
Nike CEO Mark Parker has also given talks where he advises bringing a notebook to every brainstorming session or team meeting: Doodling while chatting or sketching the thoughts and ideas being discussed was how he came up with some of the sport giant's most successful design concepts.
This is not a new practice: Mark Twain was said to have kept a notebook for 40 or 50 year, since 1857, to collect ideas for his world-famous novels, while shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis said that writing everything down in his notebook made all the difference between acting on ideas or simply letting them float by.
"When you hear something interesting, write it down. That way you will know how much time they are worth. Writing it down will make you act upon it. If you don't write it down, you will forget it. That is a million dollar lesson they don't teach you in business," says Onassis.
Here's some ideas about how you can introduce notebooks into your life.
Write a Letter to Yourself
Take some time at the end of every week or every month to write a letter to yourself––the frequency is entirely up to you and your individual needs. Look back at the events of the last few days or weeks, take a stock, and write a letter to yourself, tell yourself how proud you are of yourself for dealing with the tough moments and making the most of the good ones––it's the ultimate form of self-love and a great way to build up your confidence.
In the same letters, you can also express your wishes and goals for how you want the next few weeks and months to look like, which makes for a powerful manifesting tool.
If you are in need of flexing your creative muscles or adding a new hobby to reinvigorate your routine, try creative writing. A buttery smooth, cream paper that accentuates every word you write will surely help kickstart your motivation and from there you can start by setting small, achievable goals, like writing a page a day. You don't need to be a professional writer or a grammatical mastermind, neither do you need aspirations to get a publishing deal to do this.
Instead, look at this exercise as a means of creative escape from the day-to-day grind and let yourself write down whatever comes to mind, from a personal story to fiction. You can also create stories based on your surroundings, drawing inspiration from the people, places, and atmosphere around you. It will no doubt strengthen your ability to think beyond convention, be present and more aware of what’s happening around you, as well as come up with creative solutions in other areas of your life.
Not all of us are born with the ability to draw like a true artist, yet everyone should be able to engage with art. Sketching and doodling is a proven way to relieve stress, so keeping your notebook nearby and doodling or sketching when you're in a high-pressure situation–– even if you're just drawing smiley faces, lines, or hearts––is a great way to tap into your inner child and come back to yourself. It's certainly far more effective than the usual habits we resort to when nervous, like scrolling on social media or eating excess sugar.
If you have a stronger flair for sketching, you can also use your notebook to record moments of inspiration, be it a beautiful natural landscape you came across, a well-dressed stranger on the street, or a historical landmark that took your breath away. The notebooks could then become collectors' items filled with inspiring experiences and observations you can always return to.
Brainstorming Done Right
In an age of information overload online, returning to the physical world and writing down the key information or your top ideas for the project you're working on can help you filter through the noise and avoid overwhelm. The format of the page can only fit so much, so it naturally encourages you to prioritize your ideas and get a better understanding of what's worth pursuing.
Pro tip? Keep a notebook during group brainstorming sessions and write down the ideas that people collectively get excited about during your discussion. It will help you and your colleagues to identify the right direction for your project much quicker––and help you practice your leadership skills all at the same time.
We all talk about that restaurant we always wanted to try, the little antique store a friend recommended, or the gallery we keep meaning to book tickets to. That's where a notebook comes in to ensure you put all that wishful thinking into action and keep a record of all the best cultural recommendations you gather from friends, acquaintances, or social media.
It's an elegant way to create your very own city guides, exchange tips with friends, and consciously plan your free time, filling it with all the activities you've been wishing to try rather leaving it all to chance.
When building an intelligent life on your own terms, using notebooks as parts of your rituals to stay creative and keep a record of your thoughts and ideas is one of those small but mighty habits that can help transform your life when adopted consistently.