There’s this funny meme floating around the internet that goes like this – “My bed is a magical place where I suddenly remember everything I was supposed to do.” As you can guess, this little meme is pretty popular – probably because nearly every human alive can relate to it! We’ve all been there, when all we want is to get some shut-eye, but our brains are buzzing with thoughts – of to-do lists, past regrets, uncertain futures and unfinished projects. Rather than finding solutions, this ill-timed over activity of the brain ends up robbing us of a good night’s sleep and increasing our anxiety levels.
This becomes the perfect recipe for another unproductive day full of bad decisions, temporary solutions and strained relations. A day like this results in one more night of ‘brain-buzz’ and less sleep. But how does one get out of this vicious cycle?
The answer is in this simple phrase – Writing things down.
How Writing Things down Can Change your Life
This is how it works – get a blank sheet of paper and a pen (or a lovely little notebook – more later), and just write everything down. Everything from things you need to do, things that are bothering you, long term plans, relationship troubles – let everything pour out of your head and onto that sheet of paper. This process is a mind dump, also called a Mind Sweep or Mental Gathering by David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity. When you’re done with this task, you are guaranteed to feel lighter than ever!
The rationale behind this is the idea that your brain’s job is to think, not to store. You need that valuable RAM in your brain to find solutions and create ideas – not as a dustbin for every random thought.
Here is a closer look at how writing things down can change your life.
1. Instantly Clears your Head
Just putting everything down in a single place can be incredibly therapeutic, especially if you tend to feel overwhelmed all the time. Even though you haven’t really taken care of everything you’ve written about, knowing that it’s all in one place makes you feel like you’ve made a start.
2. Puts things in Perspective
When you write everything down, you might start to see things more objectively than when they’re all swimming inside your head. Random, discrete parts begin to come together and start to make sense.
3. Triggers Creativity
When you’ve put it all down on paper, you’ll feel a lightened feeling in your head, an unburdening of sorts. You’ll now be in a much better place to make decisions, solve problems and generally get more done.
4. Captures Information
As you begin to ‘unload’ your head, things you’d forgotten or overlooked begin to come back. Light bulbs keep going off in your head, and you wonder how you even forgot all that. Well, that’s the magic of writing things down!
5. Gives structure to dreams and goals
When you write down some of your deep desires or long cherished dreams, they tend to seem more real. As you elaborate a little more by writing down what you’ll need to accomplish them, you can see an action plan beginning to form, that can turn your dreams into reality.
Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable. ~Francis Bacon
Writing things down can be an eye opener in many aspects, but for this process to yield truly life-changing results, you need to make it a regular habit. There are many ways to do this, and the internet is literally swimming with ideas! You can try a daily planner, a bullet journal or a plain old personal diary. You can go high tech with apps or you can do it the old fashioned way. Choose whatever suits you, although there is something to be said about actually putting pen to paper. According to experts, writing by hand stimulates certain cognitive processes that may encourage better creativity and problem solving skills.
So the next time you find yourself spinning out of control with a million things running around in your head, you know what to do! Just pick up that pen and paper and hammer it out!
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