Productivity

The Joy of Writing Things Down

Do you struggle to keep tabs on life, miss essential tasks in your day to day or struggle to focus?

Start Writing Things Down

You would think this is a common sense, back to basics, unexciting way to organise your life right? But it works! When you understand the way the brain works and stores information, it becomes even clearer. This simple method is an essential step in being more organised. 

I am generally a pretty organised person and have always loved list writing. Until now I hadn’t really grasped how writing things down is so key to an organised life. 

“The Organised Mind” by David Levitin is my current evening read. I have already learned so much about how our brains work and how we can utilise them better.

Here is what I have learned so far…

In the early days of society, there was not a lot that the average human had to remember. As the world became more complex and the quantity of information our brains had to store increased, the written word was created. This was over 6000 years ago and today we attempt to hold vastly more information in our brains than we ever did. Utilising the power of writing things down enables clarity of thinking and improved memory. 

Why should you write things down

When you try to remember something without writing it down your brain rehearses that thing over and over. By writing down what you are trying to remember you are breaking the rehearsal loop, giving your brain permission to let it go. When your mind is in that rehearsal loop it is thinking about the future. By allowing your mind to let it go you allow it to be brought back to the present. One of the tricks of being happier is living in the moment, not fretting over the past or worrying about the future but concentrating on the now. 

Where should you write things down

The recommended way to clear your mind, but not lose all your ideas, is to write them on index cards. Levitin explains that idea cards are the perfect size to carry a small stack around with you, noting down one idea per card as they cross your mind. By having one idea per card you can freely organise your stack of cards in whichever way suits. Our brains naturally categories information in various different ways, whether it’s taught or instinctive. 

There are varying levels of categorisation. From high-level categories such as “Dogs” to the lower level categories such as “Labrador Retriever”. When you start to collect your ideas or thoughts on index cards you can begin organising them into the higher level categories that are relevant to you. As your stack of cards grows the benefit of having such a flexible method is that you can move cards between stacks. This is something which you don’t get from having one notebook that you carry around everywhere. 

However, Levitin says that not all successful, organised people like the index cards system. Some still carry a notebook or use their phone. It’s up to you what works in terms of a portable system of writing things down. As long as you can easily sort through that information at some stage and make sense of your notes.    

My methods for writing things down

Notebook

I have been using a technique which combines several elements, all introduced to me by some YouTubers I follow. I have a brain dump notebook, this I carry with me most places. This book is a mess of all my thoughts about life, learning, careers, business ideas, finance the list goes on. There are some small to do lists in here as well. Most days I will go through this book and pick out key information to transfer to Asana. 

Project Management Tool

I use Asana to manage all my projects or life tasks. I have a project for each of the following:

  • Food & Fitness
  • Learning
  • Steph Welch Blog
  • Work
  • Simply Happy Blog
  • Personal Events

I then create to-do lists and tasks in each project for things I want to achieve. Anything in my notebook that requires a taks to be completed gets trasnfered to Asana. I still haven’t got to grips with the best way to use Asana yet. But as I work on my blogs and socials I am sure I will work out what works for me. 

Calendar App

I use Google Calendar to block out my entire day, week, month. Gary Vaynerchuck says not to worry about how many hours you are sleeping. It is what you do with the hours you are awake that matters. He made me realise I have about 15 hours every day that I should be better utilising.

With my tasks in Asana, it is not enough to just have a due date. I need to make sure I set aside time to get the tasks completed. Using Google Calendar I work out a plan for each day that will lead to completing my Asana tasks. 

This is a new concept for me but so far it is working. I did well with a timetable at school, having a schedule was so useful for organising my life. So I have created my own timetable for life. Google Calendar has a lovely variety of colours, so my week looks beautiful all full of the coloured blocks. 

To Sum Up

So now you can see why writing things down is a fundamental step in becoming more organised. Whether it is for clearing your mind so you can enjoy the now. Or through creating a colourful plan for your life, there is joy in writing things down. I hope this has helped you understand the importance of writing things down. And given you some ideas of the tools you could use to do so. Now it is time to find what works for you. Whether you prefer pen & paper or a digital app, then just start!

Happy Organising!

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