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The Productive Power of Writing by Hand

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The Productive Power of Writing by Hand

Despite today’s advanced technological devices, there’s nothing like scribbling down a daily to-do list or strategically placing Post-it® Note reminders throughout your office and living space. To others, this is now a foreign concept. Why would anyone waste time making a list they’d most likely forget when they race out the door each day?

Writing by hand is an art. We have a personal connection to our individual styles and techniques for creating what appears before us; whereas, tapping a screen or keyboard creates virtual, uniform text that lacks personality. Sure, some fonts are more spirited and festive while others lean toward a more professional appeal. But with any digital font, each letter looks the same no matter how many times it appears on the screen.

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Benefits of Handwritten To-Do Lists

It may take us longer to hand write anything than to type it, but for many, the benefits of scribbling on things like Post-it® Notes or calendars far outweigh those of typing up a list or using organizational apps.

More Memorable
If you’re jotting down brief reminders throughout the day, just the physical action of writing a note can help cement the task in your brain. Sticky notes are extra convenient because you are able to place them anywhere, from the bathroom mirror to your front door, to help you stay on target. With apps, you waste more time setting reminder notifications than if you’d just stick a note nearby.

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Feeling of Accomplishment
Doesn’t it feel amazing to physically cross off tasks you’ve completed? There’s something rewarding about drawing that bold line through one of your to-dos and knowing you’ve been productive. This feeling of accomplishment not only makes you feel great about what you’ve already done, it provides a lot of positive momentum as you move onto other tasks. Of course productivity apps allow users to check items off their lists, but for many, the feeling of reward just isn’t quite achieved by tapping a screen.

Fewer Distractions
Technology may be a blessing, but it’s also a curse. Creating handwritten lists allows you to avoid irrelevant websites, apps, or activities that are known for straying you from the task at hand. The only distraction you may need to resist is the urge to doodle.

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Color Code Priorities
Notepads, Post-its, and other organizational paper products come in all shapes, sizes, and colors to help you stay on task. Small, narrow sticky flags are particularly useful when studying. Match colors with subjects to create a more organized study routine—use green to mark your biology textbook, pink for math, or different colors for subtopics. Students can also check out this article for more information on using Post-it® Notes for school.

Color-coded notes can be used as a brainstorming method to create business charts. They work well when organizing a tangible project management system, since you can color code tasks according to importance and move each note individually to track your progress.

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Learning Experience
If you’re teaching a foreign language to someone young or old, notecards are the way to go. They’re ideal for mastering everyday vocabulary. Stick them on the desk, window, closet, pencil sharpener, and other items throughout the room so your tutee is constantly exposed to the language.

Nevertheless, handwritten notes are ideal for personal organization and productivity. They’re a necessity for adding a unique, personal touch to every office desk and home, and they can help you stay on task and organized throughout your day. Don’t give up on your habit of writing by hand! From studying to sending handwritten notes, show off your style with a little bit of handwritten flair.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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