Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Sheryl Sandberg all use the same old-school organizational hack

Bill Gates Sheryl Sandberg Richard Branson
your ideas down.

JP Yim / Getty Images
/ Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images / Alex Wong / Getty Images / Ana
Pelisson / Business Insider

Some of the biggest names in business use a surprisingly old
school organizational and productivity trick.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Virgin founder Richard Branson, and
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg all carry around

Gates and Branson use their notebooks to record ideas. By keeping
a pen and paper handy, these two moguls are able to keep track of
and remember all the inklings that come to them throughout the

“I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to
write down my ideas as soon as they came to me,” Branson wrote
in a blog post

Sandberg uses her notebook as a sort of daily planner, according
to Fortune
. She scribbles down to-do lists and then rips out
pages once she’s hit all the items on her list. It’s a great
motivator for staying on track — there’s nothing more satisfying
than crossing off everything on your to-do list.

Regardless of how exactly they use their notebooks, these
business leaders are all onto something.

TED speaker Damon Brown
wrote in Inc.
that writing things down helps us filter our
thoughts, remember ideas and insights, and articulate the

Forbes contributor Drew Hansen
says that the key is to always
jot down your thoughts straight away: “You think you’ll remember,
but you won’t, and you’ll forfeit all the thoughts that flood you
after you’ve freed your mind from remembering the initial spark.”

It might be old-school, but it works.

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