I’ve mentioned samurai notebooks lately, but haven’t really gotten into detail about them for a while. Samurai notebooks are notebooks where you put positive ideas, plans, information, etc and review on a regularly spaced basis. My samurai notebooks aren’t necessarily pretty, but they have been transformational.
- Daniel Coyle reports that a great percentage of high performers keep some kind of notebook, whether it’s an actual notebook or even a shoebox of loose papers. Coyle cites Serena Williams, Eminem, and Twyla Tharp among others. Write down “results from today, ideas for tomorrow.”
- A samurai notebook helps you create your own channel, the information and ideas that you brush up against. You can bathe in the fear, sarcasm, and negativity that gets offered up 24/7 or you can create your own channel.
- A notebook helps you direct your life by helping you remember. Adding spaced repetition keeps reviewing from becoming burdensome.
- Buy any notebook. Think cheap and sturdy. I prefer Campus notebooks from Japan but don’t get hung up on what kind of notebook to get.
- Put any information, thoughts, plans that interests you into this notebook on a daily basis. Make sure to date each entry. Recently my notebook includes snippets of guitar/music theory, helpful hints from a Japanese book on guitar, and ideas from several teaching resources.
- Review the notebook every day. If you’ve put interesting and valuable information it will become a fun process. I put a date on the review and mark how many days from the original date. I try to review according to the following schedule 1, 2, 3 or four days, and a week after the original review. After that it is one week, two weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc. I use a timer and review five minutes every morning. I also review if I feel like it on train rides, appointments, etc.
- Quickly mark what kind of review it was and include the date. I put 1D for one day. As you do reviews, you will save time by only entries that are “up for review.”
- If you come across an entry that wows you or seems really important, copy it into the days new entries. Doing this puts it back in a shorter term loop and reinforces that this notebook is exciting. (BTW, you don’t have to “study” each page, just glance at it. If there is something you want to target and do some work with, go ahead.) Cross out pages that you think you may never be interested in again. Deletion and skipping over. Happy feelings bring happy learnings. (See ajatt.com on the importance of deletion.)
- I’ve learned to alternate between “New” reviews and “Old” reviews. One day I will review the most recent reviews and the next day, I will begin from an earmarked “Old” page. “New” information gets to “mature” and “old” information gets a systematic chance to get refreshed. I write “New” or “Old” on the day’s entry to let myself know where to go in the next session.
When you finish with a notebook, mark the outside with when the next review date should be.
Feel free to use any or none of these methods. According to Coyle, Eminem uses scraps of paper tossed into a shoe box. Whatever you want to do, some kind of notebook will help you get there. Try my samurai notebook style or flow into your own style. A simple little notebook could transform your life.