Many people take the view that writing things down is a sign of weakness – almost as though it’s admitting defeat, acknowledging that you are no longer ‘young enough’ to remember everything and you now have to resort to the old-fashioned methods of writing things down.
But the fact is that this commonly held misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Writing things down isn’t something that you have to start doing once you reach a certain age nor is it a sign that you’re not good at remembering things. Instead, writing things down can be a gift to yourself. It's incredibly freeing and beneficial!
Organized people are organized because they have a system for remembering things – and it doesn’t involve trying to use their brain like a suitcase that collects random pieces of information and stores them until a later date. That’s simply not how our minds are meant to function. By putting things down on paper, you can free up your mind to focus on thinking, instead of constantly trying to remember things.
In a similar way, writing down not just your appointments and to-do lists but also your thoughts and ideas has proven to be not only an effective way of collecting your thoughts but also helpful in sorting through things and thinking in a more constructive, analytical way. It can even help you remember some of those great ideas that would have otherwise been forgotten and motivate you to keep going in pursuit of your goals.
The following quote drives this point home: "Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think." - Albert Einstein
Why does writing things down help?
It may sound unlikely, but writing things down on paper helps you be more organized and productive, as well as more focused on goal setting and planning. When you write things down, you start to enable a higher level of thinking. This higher level of thinking causes your brain to focus more and process the information more concisely. Let’s dive deeper into why writing things down can improve your memory.
Writing things down helps you remember.
While it might sound basic, writing stuff down helps you remember your thoughts – in more than one way. Not only does it give you a visual reference that can help jog your memory every time you see it, but the simple act of writing actually engages a different part of your brain, which will make you far more likely to remember your thoughts. Fascinating!
It frees up your mind.
Your mind can only process so many things at a time, and when you’re busy trying to recall dates and appointments as well as what feels like a million thoughts and ideas, it can be difficult to think about anything else. When this happens, your thought process will slow down and you’ll find it more difficult to think up new ideas or solutions. Instead, free up your mind and your creativity by writing things down – and letting the paper remember them for you.
It helps you solve problems.
When you write something down, you have a visual of your thoughts and ideas. It’s often easier to handle something that you can see, rather than trying to untangle an abstract thought. If you’re confused about an issue or uncertain about something, try writing about it, charting it out, or journaling. Seeing it all out on paper will help you work through it more easily.
It helps you analyze your thoughts.
Warren Buffett has been quoted as saying that one of the keys to refining his ideas is writing them down. Similarly, Richard Branson, entrepreneur and CEO of the Virgin Group, says that one of his best possessions is a notebook. Writing can help you not only to get your thoughts out but also analyze them, helping you think more clearly about your goals and plans. It enables you to prioritize, process your thoughts, calculate your responses, and process your emotions far better than you can by keeping things locked up inside your head.
It gives you motivation.
Writing out goals has been shown to be beneficial for motivation. Rather than simply imagining how you want your life to be, take the first step toward making it happen by writing it down. Putting things down on paper forces your ideas out of the concept stage and makes them real.
No matter what form your writing takes, the act of writing can awaken something within us, helping us to gather our thoughts and organize them. It will free you up from having to remember things on your own. It will increase your motivation, helping to keep you on track and focused. Try it for yourself, and see how writing can help you think more clearly and purposefully – with fewer distractions.