I’m writing this blog fresh from a great one to one coaching session yesterday afternoon… One of the topics that came up was the power of writing things down. It’s come up a few times in recent coaching sessions, workshops and meetings, so I thought I’d capture a few of my thoughts…
My ‘to-do’ list
It sounds really simple doesn’t it…surely we all have to-do lists? You’d be amazed at the number of people that I work with that completely free-style their days and weeks without any structure at all. The act of writing a list for the day or week (or longer) can have a huge impact on our effectiveness. Once I have my to-do list I then factor chunks of time for each activity into my electronic calendar. That way I get a little reminder that pops up when I need to complete a certain task. It keeps me focused on what I need to achieve,and also enables me to track how I’m doing with my personal effectiveness. I can also move the diary slots around as I need to re-prioritse to make sure I stay on top of tasks.
I think ‘journalling’ is probably the current term for what I describe as scribbling stuff down! I wouldn’t say that I’m renowned for any natural skill in reflecting and reviewing, but I have found that capturing a few thoughts on what’s gone well, where the challenges have been and what should be on my radar every so often is a really useful technique.
Somehow it seems to make the processing of emotions much easier. It helps me to identify how I feel about things and my brain seems to tune in a bit more to the specifics of the situations that I’m reflecting on.
As a freelancer/business owner, it also serves as my useful record of what’s happened. It’s easy to forget your achievements and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, or any learning that you need to embrace when you’re quickly moving from task to task and project to project!
You can use this technique to shift a negative mindset too. Before a meeting that you’re dreading, or when you’re feeling particularly low, or demotivated, try writing down all of the reasons for your demotivation or negativity, what you want to say to someone (or call them!) and what’s really frustrating you. Read through it once you’ve finished the list and then literally screw it up or shred it and throw it away. Give it a go and see if it shifts that mindset – you’re literally binning your negativity!
Committing yourself to action… and achievement
I work with so many organisations that use an electronic system for recording their work goals for the year . In my coaching & training sessions, I always recommend that people WRITE down their goals before they enter them into an electronic system. The simple act of grabbing a pen and paper and writing your goal down means the brain starts to make a connection with what you’re working to achieve and sees it as more important. Typing doesn’t enable the brain to process the information in the same way. Some research suggests that writing your goals on paper could mean an 80% higher likelihood of them being achieved!
Ideas and creativity don’t last forever
How many bright ideas have you had that never come to fruition because you forget about them?! Most of my ideas come from when I’m sat on a train, in the car or, rather annoyingly, when I’m laying in bed!
I now have a few ‘creative pages’ allocated at the back of my notebook. I scribble down any new ideas that I have, quotes I like, articles and news stories that grab me or useful stats that I come across. When I have some down time, often on a train journey, I have a glance at the pages and see if I can move any of them forward. I’ve had a few ideas that have been on the pages for a fair while, but every time I’ve looked at them, I’ve enhanced them or acted on them!
Someone once told me to sleep with a pad of post it notes next to my bed. That way if I’m struggling to sleep because of all of the things going on in my brain, I can spend 5 minutes scribbling, knowing that because I’ve written things down I can forget about them as I’ll see my notes in the morning!
If you’re like me you’re not a natural ‘reflector’, but give writing things down a go – it’s a great way to learn, capture ideas and stay focused on what you’re working on!
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