Over the years I have found different ways to be productive and get things done. I have two tried and true methods that have stuck with me for quite a while. I use my email inbox + my Moleskine to manage the things I have to get done. For people who know me, they always find it surprising that I use paper to manage my life. But, there is something that is hard to beat about tactile nature of a physical task list.

One of the things I have realized recently is that when I stop using my Moleskine, I move into a “respond only” mode of leadership. This might be described by some as the “tyranny of the urgent.” When I’m doing this I’m just replying to whatever is urgent at the moment – that is, whatever email is at the top (or bottom) of my inbox.

When this happens, I’m not looking at the whole and I’m stuck in more of a manager mode than a leadership mode. Having my Moleskine next to me as a task list tends to be more focused in things that are initiated by me instead of merely responding to the needs of others.

I fear that far too much of our leadership is really management that is responsive driven rather than leadership that is looking forward and thinking outside the urgent. When I see myself in responsive management mode, it’s usually because I’ve left my Moleskine in my bag.

When this happens, the only true benefit is that I keep people happy and I have a small inbox.