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In an age of high-tech communication gadgets and productivity tools, there's still one decidedly low-tech item that many wired executives swear by: ye olde spiral notebook.

Karen Settle, president and CEO of $5-million Keystone Marketing Specialists, in Las Vegas, carries her notebook wherever she goes, entering running notes from client meetings and a phone log as she works her way through the day.

Settle says the notebook serves two purposes. First, it captures everything chronologically in simple diary fashion. Second, it discourages her from scribbling notes and phone numbers on stray pieces of paper--a sure ticket to business hell. When she calls on new accounts--a time when first impressions matter--Settle takes notes on a pad inside a leather-bound portfolio and staples the pages into her notebook later.

She talks about replacing her notebook with a handheld personal digital assistant, which would function as her address book and a link to her office e-mail (she rarely lugs a laptop when she travels). But taking notes on the tiny keyboard might be too awkward for client meetings.

Settle fills a notebook every month or so. By the end it looks a little ratty, but it still does the job. As a side benefit, it's also a helpful reference for legal matters and IRS audits.

Last updated: Jan 1, 1998




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