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The Power of Writing Things Down

One of my favorite tricks for improving many areas of my life is really simple: I write things down. This is a hugely powerful way to focus your attention, keep track of life, create a permanent record for the future, and much more.If you think writing is a waste of time – read on for some great reasons to get in the habit of putting pen to paper on a regular basis.

The Act of Writing Helps Your Memory
Have you ever noticed that when you write a shopping list you can remember almost all the items on it without glancing at it? Or when you have a bright idea and scribble it in your notebook, you can remember it all day? The very act of writing things down helps to get them lodged into your long-term, not short-term, memory.

Boost your memory by:

  • Writing out your to-do list at the start of each day
  • Recording ideas and thoughts as they occur to you
  • Memorizing facts for tests by writing them out several times

Written Words Form a Permanent RecordWhen you’re engaged in a new project or venture, why not keep a log of some sort so that you can look back on your experiences in future years? By writing down day-to-day details, you create a permanent, clear record of what would otherwise be a vague cloud of thoughts about a particular time or event in your life.

Make your thoughts last by:

  • Keeping a diary or online blog
  • Recording significant events in an “achievements book”
  • Writing milestones and memories in a baby book for your child

Writing Shows You’re SeriousI’m sure you’ve heard the advice “get it in writing”, about business transactions: it’s much easier to weasel out of something we’ve said, but writing down a promise or contract shows that you intend to honor it. This doesn’t just apply in the business world, though. What means more – saying the words “I love you”, or handing your partner a beautifully-written letter? Which will they treasure for years?

Show that you mean what you say by:

  • Sending a letter instead of making a phone call
  • Putting your goals in writing
  • Writing down what you want your life to be like in five years’ time

Writing Keeps You AccountableIf you’ve ever tried to lose weight or cut down on your spending, you might have kept a food diary or a spending log. It’s much easier to track your progress when you have something in writing – and much harder to lie to yourself. When you’re working on a goal that requires daily action, keep a record, in writing; you’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes to your motivation and self-discipline levels.

Stay accountable by:

  • Having a weekly review of how your life is going
  • Keeping track of daily goals, like fruit and vegetable intake, or regular exercise
  • Regularly reviewing what you’ve written down to see where you could do better

You Can Work Through Things In WritingWhen you’re faced with a knotty problem or a difficult situation in life, try writing about it. Just thinking about how to resolve something can end up making you feel more and more stressed as your thoughts will often go around in circles. Setting aside some time to write about it will help you to process emotions, see the problem in a different light, and work your way towards a solution.

Try working through problems by:

  • Writing a dialogue between two voices, if you’re struggling to pick a course of action
  • Stating your problem on the page, and brainstorming around it
  • Spending ten minutes listing as many ways to deal with the situation as possible

Has writing already helped you to improve your life? Do you think any of the above ideas will be useful to you in tackling an area that you’re currently working on?

Written on 11/10/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university. Photo Credit: apesara



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