Ronald Reagan Was A List Maker!

I take copious notes while doing just about anything.

1. Phone Calls: I jot down keywords and phrases so I don’t forget details and can go back and reference what was said later.

2. Magazines & Books: I write down ideas or websites I want to check out as I skim through the pages.

3. Movies & TV: I’ll get a thought and have to write down a note or two about what I’m watching.

My husband thinks it’s a colossal waste of time but it turns out I’m not alone in this obsessive little habit. Former President Ronald Reagan did a similar thing!

A book called “The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom,” is a collection of Reagan’s personal notes. He jotted down his favorite quotes, jokes and proverbs on 4-by-6 index cards and kept them locked away in the Oval Office. The only other person who had seen these lists was his beloved wife, Nancy.

The book says that Reagan picked up list making while he was working as a spokesman for General Electric in the 1950s. He would read during long train rides and write notes on what he thought was most important.

Some of the notes were his own ideas and others came from political leaders, philosophers and writers that he admired. He used the jokes, random musings about life and historical facts he’d collected in many of his speeches. There are some classic one-liners in there like my personal favorite, “Flattery is what makes husbands out of bachelors.”

His note taking prepared and allowed him to have all these great thoughts at his fingertips. When editing speeches he would run back to the Oval Office and grab the appropriate index card to insert into the text. By writing these thoughts down – he never had to remember to remember them.

I refer back to my archives of notes and lists quite often even though I’m not writing speeches for world leaders! But I’m thrilled to know that “The Great Communicator” and I have so much in common. While some may think taking notes on everyday life is trivial – I’ll leave you with a quote from one of Reagan’s 4-by-6 cards, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”


3 replies
  1. Alex
    Alex says:

    Thank you so much for the informative website, and also for the large picture of Ronald Reagan (my personal hero); I intend to make a large print and hang it in my living room! Thanks again.


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