Beginning Steps: Why Write It Down?

Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by Ex-Smith

When looking at all the planners, methodologies and systems out there, it can be pretty confusing. Yet they all agree on one thing:

Write It Down

The insistence is there, and regardless of how it gets done, the principle is the same. Today we’re going to look at WHY.

Why Write Things Down

Our brains don’t multitask. They process single tasks by shifting attention rapidly from one thing to another. So if we are trying to keep track of the items we need from the store while giving a presentation to a client, our attention will be flipping back and forth between the two.

By writing things down in a place your mind knows you will check later, your mind can relax and let go of everything but what it is currently doing.

Do I Have To Write Everything Down?

There is a school of thought on this which insists that everything must be written down, or something will fall through the cracks.

I don’t have that little faith in my memory. There are some things I don’t write down.

For instance, taking out the trash. They come around every Wednesday morning, and I know this, so I don’t need to write it down. I know, come Tuesday night, to haul the bin to the street.

The things I don’t write down have a few qualities in common: they happen regularly, there are no serious consequences if I miss it, and there is usually an external reminder mechanism.

In the case of the trash, sure it would be unpleasant, but the world wouldn’t end. And if I forget, I will be reminded Wednesday morning as I leave for work and hear the trash truck and see the neighbors’ bins out.

I also don’t write down things I do from habit. Making my bed, showering and brushing my teeth would simply clog up my lists, and I have no problem remembering to do these.

How Do I Write Everything Down?

I firmly believe that no one method is going to work for every person out there. As each of us are individuals, our methods will be individual as well. It doesn’t matter to me if you use electronics, paper, stone tablets or a mixture of all three to write things down.

Before deciding on a way to record things, you should consider the following questions:

  • Where will you be when you need to write something down? If you are outside 90% of your day, using a computer is not the best choice to record things all the time. Telling yourself “I’ll write it down later when I’m at my computer” won’t work. You won’t remember.
  • Can you get to it when you need to be reminded? If you store your shopping list on your work computer, you may be out of luck when you need it.

I think that most people use a variety of methods. I have something with me at all times so I can jot things down. I have specifically learned how to make notes on my cell phone and I usually have a small notebook and pen with me as well. I even have a package of sticky notes and a pen in the bathroom for those things that hit me when I am in the shower.

What Do I Do Once It’s Written Down?

Now here’s the best part. You have to get the information out of wherever you put it and act on it. We’ll be covering that in a future article. :)

Do you have anything to add to the discussion? Comment below, Tweet it using @SmpleProdBlog or leave a comment on the Facebook Page

Photo byEx-Smith


  1. Timo Kiander says


    I agree – it is very important to write things down, to get them off your chest.

    What I do is that once I have formed a habit of something, I don’t write it down anymore (just like you). I just happen to know when to do something without trying to specifically remember it.


    • LJ Earnest says

      Writing established habits down is one of the big things that bugged me about Flylady. Did I really have to write down that I needed to brush my teeth or get dressed? I didn’t think so. :)