How Writing Things Down Frees You Up for More Solutions



“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” — Isaac Asimov

I’ve long been a fan of writing things down to free myself up.

A while back, a friend of mine got me in the habit of carrying a little yellow sticky pad everywhere I go.

It lets me jot things down, wherever I go, so I never have to keep things buzzing around in my head.

I already knew that writing things down is a way to avoid task saturation.  I noticed the more I wrote down ideas, the more they flow.

I also noticed the more I write things down, the clearer my mind is.  I really am freed up.

I bet writing things down was a part of Edison and  da Vinci’s success.

While reading the book, Power Thinking: How the Way You Think Can Change the Way You Lead , I was happy to see John Mangieri and Cathy Block really spell it out so clearly:

“Judicious analysts do two things when confronted with a difficult problem: they decide what strategy they will use to solve it and then write down ideas as they think of them. 

By writing ideas down as they are generated, they free up their mind from the task of remembering them. 

Thus, it is able to come up with additional possible solutions and to analytically assess the soundness of the ideas that have been developed during the problem-solving process.”

I think this really helps clarify and support why writing things down is an important part of Getting Results.

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  1. Hey JD,

    I find writing down notes definitely helps me out, but not just when I’m consciously solving problems – sometimes I’ll be working on something totally unrelated and have an idea. In the past I had a tendency to try to rush and finish what I was doing to act on my idea, or drop it midstream hoping to come back to it, or worse – constantly remind myself of my idea every 2 minutes so I wouldn’t forget it, all the while trying to complete some unrelated task!

    Now I have my laptop, my iphone, and notepads and notebooks everywhere – so if I ever have an idea, I just write it down, often in significant details. Just like you mentioned, it frees me up from having to remember it, and later when I have time I can give it the attention it deserves.

  2. Hey Sid

    I think you teased out a great point and I remember doing the same thing. I used to rush through or context-switch to hop to my idea and neither worked well. I like that I can park my ideas now and be fully engaged in whatever I’m on.

  3. Hi J.D.

    Writing things down really helps a lot.

    Instead of using a sticky pad I find it easier to jot things down into a calendar or a note book.

    I find that the sticky notes have to be later rewritten or else I have a hard time keeping track of them and finding them later.


  4. @ Vance

    I find I have to rewrite my stickies too. It’s part of my process. I only carry forward the most valuable, so it both let’s things naturally slough off and it gives me another chance to reprocess the information. It’s counter-intuitive, but I evolved to it over time.

    My calendar is my best friend when it comes to allocating time for things, even if it’s to block off time for a batch of work.

  5. I completely agree writing things down, its great, i do it all the time.
    I’m not arguing that in any way. this is really just a bit of mind melting thought pattern stuff.

    I have a bit of a reverse way of looking at things. In the context of worry and personal development.

    so this is the thought.
    When we are worried we should write things down. it gets them out of our head and stops them plying over and over again. I think we all agree with that.

    however we often write things down that we do want to remember and then because they are processed in the same way as the above statement it stops them playing over and over again.

    So I propose that we don’t write down the things we do want to remember and do write down the things we don’t want to remember.

    told you it was a bit head melty. ha ha.

  6. @ Miler — I agree. Writing things down is a great way to let things go. Otherwise, they swirl around in our head.

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