jjgrainger / Web Developer

Write everything down

When the busyness of our day overloads our minds with information, any attempt to remember it all in our heads is futile. As one item comes in, two get pushed out. Things are forgotten and reappear when it’s all too late. Oh, and that interesting article you wanted to read later? Well, it’s now lost in the vast sea of the internet.

So if you’re trying to keep a track of anything solely in your head, you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

But, what can we do to help us keep track of all this information? The answer is simple.

Write. Everything. Down.

It seem’s obvious but how often do we actually take the time jot something down? I used to believe I could remember it all in my head, but as things began to slip, something needed to change.

I made a promise to myself that I would write everything down. Any tasks, notes, important dates, thoughts and ideas, I would write them down. I’ve stuck with it and over the years the benefits have been great.

Here a few key points I’ve learnt by simply writing everything down.

Thoughts become real

When you commit something to paper, you’re making it real. It no longer exists in your headspace floating around waiting to be forgotten. Instead, it becomes permanent. Something you can trust will be there waiting for you when you need it.

Writing down your ideas and goals is the first step to making them a reality. They’re no longer just an idea you hope to achieve, but a gentle reminder to start working and make them real.

Your mind becomes clear

By taking each item out of your head and onto paper you’re making space for other things. You’re no longer wasting energy as thoughts battle for your brains attention. Instead, you clear your mind. Creating space for new ideas.

When your mind is clear you’re able to focus on the task at hand. If not your focus is pulled in all directions as you juggle everything in your head, leading to burnout. But, with everything out of your head, you can approach anything with a clear mind. Giving it the focus it deserves.

Pick a tool and stick with it

There are plenty of apps out there designed to help you with this. All boasting and competing with one another. This makes it easy to jump around each of them trying to find the perfect one.

My advice would be to pick one and stick with it. And stick with it for quite some time.

I started with Evernote only using it to manage tasks and after a few days, it felt like it wasn’t working. But I stuck with it.

Now I use it for everything. It holds tasks, lists, ideas, blog posts, bookmarks, articles I want to read later and more. It’s become a crucial part of my day to day, allowing me to capture and recover whatever I need, whenever I need it.

So whatever you pick, stick with it for a while. Push its boundaries and really trial it out before jumping onto the next thing.

Remember Pen and Paper?

Don’t forget about the traditional methods too. Pen and paper can still be just as effective as any fancy app. I believe in most cases pen and paper provides more freedom. You can draw out ideas in whatever form they may take, which most apps fail to provide as a feature.

I have a sketchbook that sits on my desk that I use it for exactly that reason. I can sketch complex ideas and map out my thought process as I go. Sometimes, ideas are better expressed visually.

Make a commitment

You can’t do this half-hearted. If you want to make this change, you have to commit to it 100%. You want to be consistent, doing this each day.

I didn’t use Evernote for everything from the start, but I used it every day. By writing tasks down each day I was building a habit, and overtime it began to stick and things got easier.

Get started

So, go ahead, pick and app, or maybe a sketchbook or journal. Whatever you choose, start writing. Turn your thoughts into reality. Clear your mind and make a commitment to write everything down.