The Power of Pocket Pads

Survival games are a popular genre, with the most famous titles including Ark: Survival Evolved and Fortnite. These games show just how powerful of an idea they can be in providing entertainment while teaching players valuable life skills.

The “how to carry a pocket notebook” is a blog post that describes how the author uses pocket notebooks, which are small tablets that can be carried in one’s pocket, for note taking.


Note from the editor: The following extract is from Donald Laird’s The Technique of Getting Things Done (1947), chapter “How to Plan to Produce.” 

“You taught me one of the most valuable things I’ve ever studied,” said a former student who is now vice president of a national firm.

I groomed myself while I awaited his return of some of my own pearls of wisdom.

He added, removing a 2-cent pad from his vest pocket, “I learnt it by observing you.” “We saw you often scribbled something on one of these pads, tore off the little page, and filed it in a stack clipped to the back of the pad. You’d take the top sheet off now and then, crumple it up, and dump it in the trash.

“The whole class was betting on that pad.” It was even suggested that you were writing poetry on it by someone. I rummaged through the trash and discovered that the papers included businesslike instructions to yourself about things you needed to perform.

“Until a few years ago, I had completely forgotten about your apartment.” I was behind on my job and had a habit of forgetting a lot of little but crucial details. So I went out and got a two-cent pad and tried out your plan. I took notes as soon as I realized anything needed to be done. Each item was given its own sheet, which was then sorted in the order in which they might be completed the fastest.

“After that, I began to get things done.”

This small arrangement isn’t really innovative, but it’s highly effective since it’s a written schedule of one’s own activities.

Padawans are devotees of the Padawan.

Harry Heinz, a young Pittsburgher, sold his own horseradish while carrying a pocket pad. His thoughts, his directives to himself, were written down as he walked and then sorted. This planning was the foundation of his self-control; it allowed him to grow his food-packing company, which became known for its tagline “57 Varieties.” He had scribbled down the statement while riding an elevated train in New York City.

A canal toll collector in Dayton also understood the need of planning. He even had a pad at his bedside. John H. Patterson, this young man, was one of history’s “gettingest-done” guys. “Things to Do Today,” he labeled his stack of notes. From the ground up, he developed the massive National Cash Register Company.

Victor Hugo kept track of himself with a little pad of paper. He kept the pad with him at all times of the day and night.

Leonardo da Vinci began using a notepad in his teens and continued to do so until his death. His pad was tucked inside his belt.

Bismarck scribbled blank papers between the pages of his prayer book.

“Sudden Thoughts Set Down for Use,” as Lord Bacon dubbed his paper blueprints.

Beethoven was never without a planning pad; it was practically the only thing that he did in his life that was organized.

When he was twenty, John Hunter, a carpenter, could hardly read and write, yet he went on to become one of the world’s foremost surgeons and anatomists. He utilized a note pad to organize his work and motivate himself to complete it.


“My rule,” Hunter said, “is to seriously assess if it is possible before I begin.” If it’s possible, I can do anything if I put in enough effort, and once I start, I don’t stop until it’s finished.”

Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish on a pocket pad. Make a mental note of any ideas you have or orders you get. Organize your notes such that one work follows another in a logical order. You won’t waste time wondering what to do next or waiting for instructions.

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The “pocket notebook uses” is a tool that allows you to write notes, draw pictures, and doodle. It is similar to the paper notebook, but it can be used on any surface.

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