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One of the most useful habits you can create for yourself is writing your ideas down by pen and paper and practicing the skill of idea creation.

Computers are great for a lot of stuff. You know what they aren’t great for? Brainstorming and fleshing out your ideas.

There are tons of fancy tablets and computer programs designed to make brainstorming easy. But you know what? That crap gets in the way. The point of brainstorming and exploring your ideas is that you have freedom to be creative. If you are busy looking for the button or setting to allow you to do what you want, you’re missing the point.

Both Anthony and I have two books we use frequently.

The first one is a sketchbook, as seen below. This book is where I plan out projects and do specifics for things I am actively working on. That is what goes in this book.








The second book I have is a smaller blank journal. I use this for taking notes when I meet with people, jotting down random ideas when they pop into my head so I don’t forget them later, and for writing down my goals and things along those lines.








For the sketchbook, I also use a ton of colored sharpies to help me make things more organized feeling when colors are needed. Let’s be honest, if all the ink was one color it just wouldn’t be as fun and doing this stuff should be FUN, not make you miserable








I literally went to Fred Meyer and bought as many sharpies in the biggest pack that I could. If you are serious about doing big things, expanding your business, growing what you’re doing, you should have these tools. No questions asked. These need to be on your desk or in your backpack.

What ends up happening is people say ‘oh well I can just put this in a note on my phone’. Get real. If you do that in a meeting with someone, you look like a jerk. Get a book and take notes like someone who is serious about what they are doing. You are serious about what you’re doing right? Taking notes on your phone is what someone who isn’t serious does.

This Week’s Challenge

Go buy yourself a sketchbook and some colored pens and start CRANKING out the creativity. There is nothing special about us other than we actively try and create things we think are awesome.

Now get after it!

Show Notes

Sketchbook: Click here

Smaller journal book: Click here

Sharpies: Click here



Ryan: I’m Dr. Ryan Debell. Thanks for tuning in once again to the Health Fit Business podcast. This is episode 12. What we are talking about in this episode is creativity, creative thinking, idea generation, and why Anthony and I use primarily pen and paper.  And we have two specific types of books that we use to work on our ideas. Whether that’s business ideas or personal goals, things like that, and why we use the tools that we use. I think this is applicable to both students and clinicians and fitness professionals because you know what? We all have things going on in our day where we need to take notes, where we need to jot things down, where we need to expand upon things about that we’re working on. We hope to convince you in this episode why you should be using somewhat similar tools if same tools that we’re using. We found them much more valuable than using computers to do this. We’re also going to talk about in this episode the sort of daily habits in terms of journaling. So, without further ado, please enjoy episode twelve of the Health Fit Biz podcast.

Anthony: Welcome everyone to another episode of the Health Fit Business podcast.

Ryan: Dr. Anthony Gustin, it’s so good to see you!

Anthony: We’re in Seattle.

Ryan: Where are we this time?

Anthony: Seattle.

Ryan: We’re on my back porch looking out in to the wilderness, sort of.

Anthony: Beautiful fire place. Lit, warming exhaust.

Ryan: It’s not lit, it’s ablaze.

Anthony: It will be later.

Ryan: It will be later.

Anthony: Anyway, what we’re talking about today. Why we use pen and paper way more than we use computer to write things down and kind of how we structure our daily idea creation, idea journaling, and what kind of impact that has.

Ryan: Yeah, I agree.  So, personally, I was using a computer primarily to do like idea generation.

Anthony: Or for everything.

Ryan: For everything. For everything. And to me it seems sorts of an artifact, the fact that we use computer to do that. It’s like because computer exists, because computers are good in like writing word document that we must be able to have, it must be the best form of idea generation and like building something. But I just don’t think that that’s actually true. I think pen and paper is much more effective. Now, we kind of have the same set up when we worked together. And sort of like build doc each other. I copied you or whatever.

Anthony: More likely, that way. When I copied someone else’s so.

Ryan: There you go. Everyone’s copying somebody. What’s your set up?

Anthony: I think like what you said, computers are artifacts. Right? And so, you think about why people are typing now. Well, what happen is there’s a type writer. So, when people had ideas and wanted to write a story, a newspaper, or a book, they had to have something that could go faster than how they could physically write something on a piece of paper. Because the ideas in your head kind of pour out and that’s called word processing.

Ryan: Like, I can think faster than I can physically write with my hand.

Anthony: You’re processing words. That’s why Microsoft Word is a word processor.

Ryan: Okay.

Anthony: That evolved to a computer which has a screen and now it’s multi-use tool. People should be able to do everything on there.

Ryan: Right.

Anthony: But really, it should still only be use for word processing. Which in my case, day to day, email is word processing and it makes sense because my ideas get out of my head quickly.

Ryan: Like writing a blog post.

Anthony: Writing a blog post is word processing.

Ryan: Making. Perhaps, making a list that you’re going to share with somebody.

Anthony: Yeah.  But as fast as writing down daily tasks and kind of figuring out the priority of them, or doing ideas, jotting down.

Ryan: More like connecting ideas or just diagramming things, or building a structure of things.

Anthony: The digital way to put down information is very linear.

Ryan: What’s interesting to and sort of I think they have been trying to manage that is you’ll get something like. I know you love Microsoft products. That’s all I have a service for free. You’ve got OneNote, it has a pen tool. So theoretically, you could draw in it, sort of free style.  But you know what? I still don’t even like doing that.

Anthony: It’s not same.

Ryan: So, what do we get instead. Right? So, we have… What is it? What’s the size of a sketch book?

Anthony: So, what I do is two different forms and I think you have the permission to say the same exact set up?

Ryan: I have two different paper forms that I used as well.

Anthony: So, one is a large sketch book. I think it measure like 11 x 14.

Ryan: Is that 11 x 14?

Anthony: Yeah, 11 x 14. It’s like what art students use.

Ryan: It’s amazing! I love my sketchbook.

Anthony: They flip open. The binders are typically so you can lay them flat.

Ryan: Do I see one of those in your lap right now? Is that what it is?

Anthony: Yeah. Notes. Notes are always on hand. So, having basically a 22 x 14 canvass to write down ideas.

Ryan: Well, that’s my sketch book!

Anthony: Draw arrows, circle things, writings on top of each other.

Ryan: Cross it out.

Anthony: This is how creative mind works. They don’t work in a linear fashion, typing things out.

Ryan: If I’m trying to figure out in OneNote or online program like “Ohh… How do I format this so it fits?” Your clearly not in the right environment for idea generation and creating just the actual information. You’re more worried about how’s the technical tool work with what I’m trying to do. It shouldn’t be about that. You have a pen and paper, you can just do anything with it, right? There’s no formatting issues that pop up, there’s no “I have to change the color of the thing, or actually highlight this or how do I put this here? Where did it go? Or I have to scroll the note. Scroll all the way down the corner.” Something like that. Having it physically there, you get rid of all the stuff that isn’t directly related to creating the content.

Anthony: Right. And one of the examples on here to is the way you use pen all the time. So, whenever you have a project- something you’re working on can usually be broken down into more manageable tasks. And so, let’s say it is even as simple as posting a blog post on a website. To push that content out, it requires that you research content, write the content, post it to the website, post it to social media channels, email it out. Whatever, right? There’s a bunch of steps that you have to do to write it and push it out. And so being able to write on top of the page like posting something new.

Ryan: How to make a blog post.

Anthony: And then, jotting down all the different things that you needed to do and then after you see it all say “Oh ok this one should go first, then I do this one, then I do this one.” Then you can refine it and make a list of something. Got to know which tasks must be done before the other.

Ryan: Like drawing a picture.

Anthony: And then, you get a much clear idea what needs to be done when way quicker than you can when you write this in to a Microsoft word. It doesn’t work that way because you need to like copy, paste, cut, organize things. It doesn’t work.

Ryan: And what if you just like to quickly draw a process of steps like in any shape, in any way. You’re writing in to technical issues that are suppressing your ability to do what needs to be done.

Anthony: So, sketch books is…

Ryan: I freaking love that thing.

Anthony: Anything that requires creative thinking.

Ryan: If you’re listening to this right now and like you aren’t doing this, you should literally go buy a sketchbook today. Me, was ten bucks. I don’t know what kind of fancy San Francisco sketchbook.

Anthony: Mine was a $344 grass-fed paper.

Ryan: I went to the Fred Myer, got to the school supply section, it says sketch on it too. Beautiful!

Anthony: There are no…

Ryan: Just go get a freaking sketchbook that has no line in it. It’s blank paper. And you know what’s interesting about it is at first, it was really hard for me writing in a sketch book because I’m so not use to it. And once I started writing my ideas down, it just flows out.

Anthony: Wow, that’s great!

Ryan: It just flows. You have to just start writing. Like what we’re doing yesterday? We’re doing some stuff like trying to figure out some ideas. “Oh, we’re stump!” Just start writing stupid shit on a piece of paper and just don’t stop for like five minutes and just whatever comes in to your brain, write it down. And once you open that freaking faucet, it just pours out. And now it’s filled. These books are filled with stuff.

Anthony: Yeah. I filled most full of them already. And one of the things I do as well so, I have a backpack that I carry everything around in and I have different colored pens.

Ryan: You’ve got to have different colored pens.

Anthony: To jot down different ideas.

Ryan: I have so many Sharpies!

Anthony: And so, I’m working on a contract most of the time and pulling on subway lane looking like a third grader of my backpack. Everyone was in a MacBook and looking at me like I’m some weirdo.

Ryan: And you’re freaking crashing some awesome stuff. Plus, another benefit of like what, are you going to get a Facebook notifications within your sketchbook?

Anthony: Exactly. Distraction free. It’s a waste

Ryan: Right. Exactly! You don’t even have your electronic device near you. If you’re on a computer, you are literally two clicks away from getting in the Gmail or from getting in to something or some stupid notification pops up. Whatever. You’re going sketchbook, it’s pen and paper. What’s going to happen? Nothing. So, you can get a very deep in to it. And what I did too in regards to the color pens. I didn’t use Crayola. Remember when everyone use to have those crayon, in the crayon box they have like this sharpener in the back of it. You sharpen your crayons like that. Sort of those things.

Anthony: Yeah. I missed it!

Ryan: So, I bought a bunch of Sharpies with different thicknesses. Like a kind of thick sharpies or the ultrafine or then you have like Sharpie pens also. Because if you want like categorized things sometimes, using different colors can be helpful too.  So, I just went to literally filled my box with the biggest Sharpie package that I could find in like different sizes. You know at first, you know it’s kind of stupid. At first it was like “Oh! This is $12. Oh, that’s a lot!” Like 12 bucks and I have to do two of them? And I was like “Ryan! What the hell?! What you’re going to get out from this is worth so much more than freaking $24 of Sharpie pens!” I just honestly cannot believe that I even hesitated for a second with that. But I think it’s kind of true, right because we’re not used to doing that. Like “Oh! Everything should be free in the world!” If you want to actually do something go buy freaking $30 of this stuff and then you can immediately start jotting the stuff down with that.

Anthony: Yeah. Invest in yourself.

Ryan: That’s book number one. Do you have anything to add into that?

Anthony: Yeah. We’ve wrote down some ideas for the podcast the we’re going to record. We wrote down some ideas on different parts we’re going to out up. We wrote down some ideas on how we’re going to redo the website to make it better for you guys.

Ryan: I have four courses on building the Movement Fix in there.

Anthony: There’s arrows, question marks, numbers, boxes, circles. Like, you can’t do that in a word processor.

Ryan: No.

Anthony: This is what the book is for.

Ryan: This is what the real book gets done.

Anthony: Do the work in a book and then after that everything’s laid out and you can type that down.  You just show up and do the work. So, that’s the sketchbook. The next one, the…

Ryan: The smaller book.

Anthony: The small, the 8×5 inch. People call them moleskins or journals. Like just basically a blank open.

Ryan: Moleskin is like the expensive brand of the same thing.

Anthony: And so, I think I have a pretty similar way to do this.

Ryan: Of that thing, too. Totally different purpose.

Anthony: Yeah. This is where I do both my daily journaling as well as note taking. When…

Ryan: You’ve got a meeting, right?

Anthony: The daily journal for me looks like this. There are… I go over… I jot down some ideas, just to keep my brain fresh and always thinking of new things.

Ryan: But what kind of ideas?

Anthony: So sometimes I put down I’ll look in around my room and I’ll see like coffee cup. And so, I’ll write that down “coffee cup” and under that I’ll write down five to ten ideas.  Like “Hmmm… How can I change this thing?”

Ryan: Just like getting your brain to work

Anthony: I’ll handle this coffee cup like what if it’s taller? How do I drink that? What is the three most different…? That way, let’s say…

Ryan: You look at the word critically and creatively.

Anthony: If you’re riding your bike and the tire pops and you think “Hmmm. Okay let’s go back to the ideas scenarios,” and you frame it this way and you’re always creative in looking for new solutions to a problem.”

Ryan: Like why don’t they make tires not pop?

Anthony: Or you’ll think like “Now, I can call someone. I can walk this way. I can change tire this way.” You can prepare for any situations that come with you and that’s super…

Ryan: I think that does a couple of things for you. I think it makes you see the world more creatively but it also trains you not to be reactive in the world. Like react “Oh! Damn. My tire just pop.” Instead of like…

Anthony: “How am I going to deal with this thing?”

Ryan: Deal with things and I think that’s important too. You don’t live a life, like an angry life. Like every little thing that happen, you get super bitter about it.  So, I use the…

Anthony: Oh, wait wait. I’m not done.

Ryan: Oh, my sorry! Long pause.

Anthony: The ideas, then I write down just random thoughts that creeps in my head.  Sort of random notes. Then, especially like if somethings bothering me, something on my mind, I’m stress about something. Putting it on paper gets it out of my head, “Oh I can forget about this now because I wrote it down.”

Ryan: You know where it is.

Anthony: I processed it. Who cares! Finally revisit that and come back to it.

Ryan: Instead of keeping all stuff in your head.

Anthony: Then, just a few things of like positive thinking. Things like what I’m grateful for. Sometimes, like this morning here in your beautiful backyard.

Ryan: Thank you.

Anthony: I wrote fire, coffee and fresh air.

Ryan: The air is pretty fresh out here.

Anthony: So, that, that is simple, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Anthony: And it could be larger things, it could be smaller things. It just gets you again in that frame of mind of thinking positive instead of negative. Then two or three big items that I need to do that day. That’s it. So, that’s kind of my morning thing. And then, I use it throughout the day as in doing things. I will draw line in the middle and all those from my friend Justin McLellan Fire, Spoonbread Company. Draw line in the middle of the sheet.  On one side, write down things that you’re going to be doing that day and then on the other side, you write down things you did that day as you do them and then after you’re done you ask yourself, “Can I automate or delegate any of these stuffs?” So, it’s like task awareness.

Ryan: Yeah. Figuring out like what am I actually doing with my time?

Anthony: Exactly. And so, you can like keep on visiting it “Is this important? No. Should I be doing this? No.” It is awareness. And then, also if I go to meeting with somebody then I will take notes on that.  I used to do it on my phone, and then I realize it was annoying because people thought I was texting other people and they have also shown that if you are taking notes even if you are scribbling stuff and just like repeating words what they are saying for not even of importance to you, people feel more importance when there’s note taken about their conversation. It elevates, it makes them more confident, it makes them think like you’re paying attention.

Ryan: Get off your phone for freaking ten minutes of the day. Just a way of like not to be on your phone which is nice.

Anthony: Daily task awareness, daily journaling and in person note taking is what I used the small book for and I used the big book for creative thinking.  How does your small book differ from mine?

Ryan: My small book is essentially the same actually.  The sketchbook I reserved primarily for like projects I’m working on or things I’m trying to make or ways I’m trying to… It’s not a day to day thing.

Anthony: The idea generation is idea like a strategy.

Ryan: Exactly.

Anthony: Content.

Ryan: I might do some idea generation there but it’s like, if you are to look at it you’ll see like there’s a section on there where I’m just like working on ideas for course.

Anthony: It’s like a problem solving.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly!  The daily one I do something similar to you as part of my morning routine. I use, it. So, I jot down goals, I jot down things I’m grateful for as you do.  Because as Tony Robbins, I think it’s Tony Robbins says this like “You can’t be angry if you’re grateful.”

Anthony: I believe it.

Ryan: Something along those lines. And then I use it also for, what are the things that, what can I get done today that’s going to push the needle forward?  I don’t like doing things that just maintain the needle. I think I’ve said that before I don’t want, like I mean you should do things like of course maintain your needle, not a needle that you will freaking puncture yourself with.  You know what I’m saying? You got me? You’re looking at me like you don’t…

Anthony: But I am.

Ryan: Yeah. Like a speedometer. Whatever! What can I do today that’s going to push the needle forward to help me achieve the goals that I wanted to achieve? Now the problem is, if you don’t know what your goals are, how are you going to know what to do? So, of course that means I have goals that are set. Right? Anyways, we can talk about it more another time.

Anthony: Yeah, I use my sketchbook, I went to (place) couple of weeks ago, took a time off from everything. Didn’t do any work but like goal setting analysis of like what I was doing. Was I using my time correctly? All those deep thought experiment on my businesses and on myself. So, that’s another good thing that… You can’t word process that.

Ryan: Absolutely not!  Too restrictive.  So, that’s how I use the small book. Again, if I were listening to this podcast right now and you don’t have those things, go get a freaking sketchbook and some pens. Start jotting stuff down.

Anthony: Yeah. And we can put in the show notes some recommended book or stick photos of ours so you can see.

Ryan:  Yeah.

Anthony: I guess our weekly challenge then for this week is go buy a freaking book. One of this.

Ryan:  Go get one of them. Go get some colored pens. Go spend $24 on Sharpies. Anyways, yeah. Get after it!

Anthony: Yeah. Get after it guys.

Ryan: Thank you guys for tuning in to this episode of the Health Fit Business podcast. If you find it helpful, please share with someone that you think it would also help and leave us a five-star rating on iTunes. Make sure also to go to and sign up for the email notifications to which you can find right on the homepage so that you get all the updated podcasts and blog posts sent directly to you. Until then, we will see you next time.