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Shinola

A notebook process I've used for ten years

Just a few minutes of reading and writing every day sure adds up over ten years.  What was probably on track to being my coolest notebook, was stolen (along with my messenger bad) in the fall of 2011.  Guard yours closely by always having it on your person! TOP LEFT: notebook page from Feb. 16, 2010.  TOP RIGHT: notebook page from Feb. 16, 2017. BOTTOM: my notebook collection from the last ten years and some random, meaningful books I've used over the last ten years and needed to make a rectangular photo on my iPhone, here.

Life has a lot of excrement. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to endure burnout and slog through each day and wake up the next morning a little further down our paths. And sometimes we even feel balance and string together a few wins.

But most of the time, for us to win every day for a very long time, you and I need help. You might have an app for that. A snack for that. Or a bourbon to sip for that.

What if all we need are a pen and a pad? Unroll your eyes. Even Santa Claus needs a pen and paper to get shit done. Even Saint Nick needs a list. Even that jolly old elf needs a notebook.

Maybe it’s high time we start spending ten minutes per day making a list and checking it twice. A list that saves us far more time than it costs us. You won’t necessarily be able to deliver presents to the entire globe in a 24 hours span with free shipping, unless Mr. Bezos is reading this. But you will be accomplishing your professional goals with plenty of time and energy for your family or personal life to thrive with confidence and courage and without regret.

The catch? You’ll have to give these ten minutes six days per week for 117 days before you will understand how much you’re accomplishing; before you know your shit from Shinola and your shoes start to shine.

As with any behavior change, of the digestion of a new philosophy, your notebook will test your optimistic patience to invest in yourself, as it should.

How to Start

For the first 14 days, your sole goal is to open your notebook every day and write nothing more than the date followed by a check mark. No more, no less, and never taking longer than 30 seconds.

The hardest part of keeping a notebook is opening it to get started. So you’ll need first to become an expert in simply opening your notebook every day. If you can do this, you’ll be seething by day 15 to write vigorously.

This notebook process that I’ve crafted since 2007 — and the improvements you make to it so that it becomes your own — will be the reason your friends and co-workers ask each other how you get so much done and still have so much free time and perspective.

Day 15

All I can really do from here, is give you a quick and dirty explanation of the notebook process that I use every day along with a few snapshots. When I consult with businesses and individuals to build various processes , I always stress that we’re tailoring the process for their goals and their lives. You’re more than welcome to take on my notebook process, but I hope that you can improve upon it so that it fits your life.

My Notebook Process

  • Everyday I list 13 things.

  • At least 7 of these things I see as basic considerations to daily life. The rest are tasks or goals that are specific to that day.

  • To record a win for the day, a minimum of 7 of the 13 things (54%) must be subjectively accomplished.

  • The philosophy is that by merely writing these 13 things every day, a great deal of time is saved by not having to juggle them in my head.

  • Requiring only 7 of my 13 things to be addressed beyond acknowledgement each day, provides me with the permission and accountability I need to get a little bit better every day.

  • Allowing myself a maximum of 13 goals for each day, ensures that one highly productive days, I know my limit and save some energy for tomorrow.

  • Making sure that it’s completed six days per week for at least 117 days, ensures that we’ve learned how to reschedule unfinished goals to a later date without them weighing on our minds.

I enjoy continuous dialogue and the relationships and opportunities that come from it. Please feel free to email me, [email protected], if you’d like to share a bit about yourself and your goals, or if you’d like to receive our monthly newsletter.

Toughmails.com and our goals for delivering strategic processes to the people, the entrepreneur, the project and the business that interest us on a broader scope, will take some time to develop. We’ll need some good conversations with you all in the meantime.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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