Write It Down: The Power of Putting Your Ideas On Paper

Published November 16, 2017

There’s something to be said about putting pen to paper and writing down your goals, ideas or to-do lists. Writing things down helps ease mental clutter.

It’s scientifically proven.

“Writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS),” reports LifeHacker.com. “The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on at the moment—something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.”

Henriette Anne Klauser, author of Write It Down, Make It Happen, agrees that writing stimulates the RAS, ultimately sending a signal to the cerebral cortex. “Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it.”

Take actor and comedian Jim Carrey as an example. After a series of consecutive failures, Carrey wrote himself a check for $10 million for “acting services rendered,” later placing the check in his wallet.

He removed it seven years later when he received a payment in the exact amount for the hit film “Dumb and Dumber.”

There’s also scientific proof that the pen is mightier than the keyboard. Yes, while typing information into your computer, laptop or mobile device is effective, it’s not as efficient as writing it down. There’s a connection between handwriting and cognitive abilities.

A study conducted by Dr. Virginia Berninger, a University of Washington professor of educational psychology who studies normal writing development and writing disabilities, observed children’s ability to write the alphabet, essays and sentences using a pen and keyboard.

The study found the children’s writing skills were consistently better—they wrote more, faster and more complete sentences—when they used a pen.

Fast Company released its annual Secrets of the Most Productive People issue in November and the power of writing it down was noted. “It sounds obvious, but ‘write it down,’” says Joy Cho, author, designer and founder of Oh Joy! “I have so much going on—with kids, with my business. If I don’t write it down, I will forget.”

So, how can you achieve your goals and complete your to-dos?

Check out these easy-to-follow tactics: 

  1. Start the night before

Don’t wait until the morning. Take a few minutes the night before to write down your daily goals so you can hit the ground running the next morning. 

  1. Focus on the day at hand

Your to-do list should only include items that you absolutely need to do on that day. Be realistic with yourself. If you know there’s something that can be tackled the following day, hold off on placing it on your list.

Once you’re done with your list and you have more time, feel free to start on the next day’s action items.

  1. Place deadlines next to your goals

Get specific! Include estimates of how long it will take you to complete your tasks. Under each goal, specify a plan of action. It’ll help keep you focused while knocking out your list.

About the Author(s)
T.D. Jakes Is one of our incredible 2020 faculty members for the The Global Leadership.

Bishop T.D. Jakes

Founder and Senior Pastor

The Potter's House

T.D. Jakes has a proclivity to disrupt the status quo, and is one of the most globally-recognized influencers in business, education, film and entertainment. With his earnest approach, Jakes has been able to reach millions of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, nationalities, and creeds. Senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a global humanitarian organization and 30,000-member church, Bishop Jakes’ presence spans digital media, film, television, radio and books, including his most recent book, Crushing: God Turns Pressure into Power.

Years at GLS 2004, 2010, 2016, 2018, 2020

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