This is true for both big things like goals and ambitions, as well as small things like daily to-dos and shopping lists. It’s also true for both long-form writing and quick bullet points.
In fact, the bullet format is particularly effective, which explains why the bullet journal is such a great productivity tool.
What kind of things should you be writing down? Everything! Ideas, thoughts, tasks, feelings, insights, hopes, worries…You get the idea.
Admittedly, in many instances, digital may be more convenient than analog, but keep reading to find out why writing things down the old-fashioned way is well worth the effort.
9 Reasons Why You Should Be Writing Things Down
1. Writing makes you smarter.
The act of writing things down in a notebook or a journal involves more cognitive activity than typing it out on a keyboard or on a screen. This means that more areas of the brain are activated and they are activated more intensely as we write compared to when we type. We probably can’t write our way to a genius-level IQ even if we try, but there’s certainly no harm in opting for activities that offer more robust brain stimulation whenever possible. It will keep us sharp and will help prevent cognitive decline down the line.
2. A written goal has a greater chance of getting accomplished.
As the saying goes, “a goal that is not written down is nothing more than a wish.” When we take the time to write down our goals (the more detailed the better!), we are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them.
Writing down your goal solidifies them and spurs the necessary action required to achieve them. What takes place in our brains when we write down our goals is called encoding. This powerful process affects the choices we make and how we act in extremely profound ways, even if we’re not conscious of it.
3. Writing improves overall productivity.
Putting our thoughts to paper is akin to decluttering, and when we declutter, whether it's our brains or our desks, we become productive.
Writing also compels us to organize our thoughts. Making a habit of it will train our brains to be clearer, more concise, disciplined and logical.
The benefits of this improved mental flow will carry over to all other areas of our lives. It improves focus and decision-making skills and helps us combat procrastination.
4. It improves our attention span.
The act of writing by hand requires our full attention. Because we are fully engaged, our thoughts are less likely to wander off into tangents. That’s quite rare in this day and age where attention spans are markedly shorter.
Cultivating the habit of writing will develop the ability for sustained focus and attention, which will help us complete tasks and become more detail-oriented.
5. It unburdens our working memory.
Our working memory, also referred to as our short-term memory, is the RAM of our brain. Our brains are incredible machines but our RAMs are sadly limited.
Unlike our long-term memory, which is like a vast ocean, our working memory is like a shallow pool. It cannot hold too much information at a time without freezing up or encountering performance issues. An overburdened working memory degrades our cognitive function, causing us to make careless mistakes.
Writing things down means we no longer rely on our working memory to do the heavy lifting, leaving it free for more important brain functions.
6. To keep a record of the past.
It helps to have something to look back on, especially when tracking your progress. Of course, digital tools are just as effective (if not more!) in storing records, but for stationery lovers, nothing beats the tactile feel of pen and paper.
There’s also something extremely gratifying about going through the well-worn pages of a lovingly used journal.
7. It relieves anxiety.
One of the best ways to quiet a busy and racing mind is to write. Getting our thoughts and feelings on paper can offer a sense of relief. It can turn our minds from chaotic to calm in an instant.
That is what the concept of writing therapy is all about and it’s extremely beneficial for our mental health.
If you don’t have the time for long-form writing, you can still engage in some writing therapy by doing periodic brain dumps. This is one of the things the bullet journal is good for.
This is the process of externalizing our scattered thoughts by writing them down. At a later time, these brain dumps may be organized into lists or reflections.
8. It makes the complex simple.
No matter how daunting a project or a task is, it can always be broken down into simpler steps. And no matter how nebulous an idea might start out to be, it can always be fleshed out.
Writing it down will do all that. It gives us clarity and helps us form a plan of action. It also helps us develop insights and ideas and come up with solutions to problems.
One way to do this is through mind-mapping. This is an effective tool to brainstorm or structure information. It involves taking a central idea and branching out with related ideas and concepts.
Creating mind maps is another thing the bullet journal is known for as it perfectly combines visual and written elements.
9. It reinforces commitment.
Writing something down, especially somewhere permanent like in your bullet journal, bolsters your commitment and helps you overcome any subliminal resistance you might have for it.
This is why goal setting and habit trackers in your bullet journal are so effective. We find that this is especially true if you took the time and effort to create an elaborate spread. You are less likely to abandon it!
So the next time you feel too lazy to write, take notes or update your bullet journal, just remember these 9 benefits. It’s all the motivation you’ll need!
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