Why You Should Still Write Things Down: Tips for Productivity

How many times can you recall thinking of something extremely important for work or school at the most random time? You swear you’ll remember it, but when it’s time to process that important thing, you can’t remember what it was.

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Because I work in a creative, idea-based industry, I’m constantly writing things down. My co-workers and I always joke that our best ideas come to us in the shower or while we’re sleeping. To harness these random spurts of inspiration, I make good, old fashioned lists—and not in a document on my computer or in a note on my phone. I take a pen and write it down on paper.

In fact, I make my lists in a planner, so I can check and re-check to be sure I’m getting everything accomplished. When the day is done and I still haven’t completed everything on my list, I transfer whatever I didn’t get done to the next day. So, sometimes I’m writing things down three or four times in a week—which means they linger over my head until I finally finish them—and when I get to cross them off my list and officially forget about them, it’s an amazing feeling.

Here’s three reasons you should still put pen to the paper and write things down:

1. It clears your mind to make room for more important thoughts

If you have something in your mind you know you need to remember, it takes up space in your brain, kind of like memory on your computer. You have to remind yourself over and over of the thing you need to do tonight, tomorrow, or even a month from now. If you write yourself a note for later, it clears up some extra “hard-drive” space in your brain for you to focus on more important things.

2. It’ll help you remember

When you write things down, you’re engaging a different part of your brain than the part that helped you formulate the idea. Writing things down can help you process the information for a higher level of engagement later.

At work, especially in the creative aspects of my job, I can sometime be processing obscure concepts when I’m deep in thought about a brand while I’m writing a piece of content. When this happens, even if I don’t formulate full sentences, I’ll jot down words, phrases, or snippets of language to be used later in a piece of writing. This helps bring me back to the deep place in my head where these thoughts are stored much easier when I pick the project back up later.

3. It creates a sense of accomplishment

To me, there are few things in life better than checking something off my to-do list. I love the sense of completion that comes with putting something behind me and calling it “task complete.” Writing things down in a list format with check boxes can help you feel great when you finish one of your to-do’s and it can help motivate you to keep going with your list, leading to ultimate productivity.

I hope I’ve convinced you that writing things down the old fashioned way can help you feel the power of productivity. How do you use lists or a planner to help you keep things on track? I’d love to hear in the comments. You can also tweet me or find me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Still Write Things Down: Tips for Productivity

  1. Maya Northen says:

    Love this! I’m a huge proponent of writing… anything – either in journal format if it’s to clear out thoughts, in an appointment book to organize meetings and tasks, or sticky notes on your nightstand in the middle of the night when you wake up and think of something you swear you’ll remember in the AM but just want to make sure…

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