The daily power of a humble pad and pen

By Matt Danswan

One of the things I distinctly remember about my Dad, who sadly passed away from cancer in 2015, was his pad and pen.

Every morning, while he was drinking his cup of coffee, he had a small notepad, and he would sit and make a note of every small thing that needed to be achieved that day.

From needing to collect bread and milk, to completing a quote, or getting figures together for his accountant, everything that needed to be done for that day was written down on that small page.

Then, at the end of the day, he would cross out all that was done, move the things he did not get completed to a fresh sheet of paper, then tear off that day’s page and place it in the trash. This simple procedure meant he never missed out on any small detail.

Some mornings when I wake up, I feel so overwhelmed with all that I need to get done that day. Then I download my emails and see all the EXTRA things that need my attention. The first thing I have learned to do is grab my pad and pen – albeit mine is a lot bigger than my Dad’s – and start writing them down.

That piece of paper sits next to my desk, and as the phone rings and emails come in, taking away my focus on the bigger picture, I don’t lose sight of the things that need to be done. And just like my Dad, as I complete a task, I draw a line through it, and with each task I complete, I feel like I am in control of my day. Again, what is not completed gets moved to the next day so I don’t just “spin my wheels”.

My wife does the same thing. As the Art Director in our company, she has one of the most demanding roles there is. The number of projects she has to oversee at any one time, including liaising with so many other people, and all whilst being a mother of four, is overwhelming. However, she too is a list maker. That list shows her what is important, as well as the order of importance.

When we are only dictated to by our email and phone calls, it is very easy to sit at a desk for eight hours and sometimes not achieve a lot. In the rush to quickly respond to an email, we often lose sight of working on projects and things that need to be done that can carry a lot of significance in our businesses.


Matt Danswan is the CEO of Initiate Media, publishers of Christian Woman & Co. He is also the author of NOT Business As Usual.

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