As a business research professional and an entrepreneur, planning has always been the crux of my day-to-day operations. Whether hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, I plan – subconsciously and constantly.
I am an old school guy when it comes to planning. Since the early days of my professional career, this one habit has always stuck with me. Despite living in a digital society in a cloud based world, I like the analog planning techniques which involve pen and paper. Writing and the physical action of noting down important action items, points, activities, etc has always been more helpful to me than any other mode of planning (like apps, online tools, etc).
I believe words turn eternal once recorded. They may prove black or white or even grey sometimes, but only if recorded, can they be scrutinized for analysis or review – anytime. In the corporate world, performances are evaluated based on recorded efforts & outcome – both qualitative and quantitative. The analysis is usually performed on recorded estimates or true values of business behavior. In personal life, people record our actions in specific situations and form an image of ours. It does bring about the importance of recording. If recording is referred to as the penning down of knowledge or ideas, the impact magnifies. Don’t all organized business transactions record the identity of the buyer & seller and most still require “signatures” on invoices and purchase orders? So is the case with all agreements, contracts, agendas, cheques, receipts, greeting cards, wishes, and not to forget, even the “love letters”.
No matter how digitized our habits become, the finality of our actions– personal, professional and legal – require the analog action of signing off with a pen and paper. There are 2 key reasons I realized why I preferred writing over typing; one is romantic and the other is pragmatic.
The romantic factor being the element that writing has an air of permanence. It carries with it a gravitas that is deep and long lasting –from teachers insisting on students writing down the lessons to remember & understand them better, to servers and ushers noting down our requests, to any professional sitting in a meeting with a diary and a pen, making shorthand notes about minutes, intent and content of the meetings.
The pragmatic reason directly relates to the scientific and psychological benefits of writing instead of typing. Experts across the world from psychology as well as brilliant serial entrepreneurs such as Andrew Minalto insist that pen and paper are the best planning tools. Similarly, Wall Street Journal published an article that explains how writing, specifically handwriting, trains and sharpens our cognitive abilities as well as enhances our ideation and memorization capabilities.
Another reason why I prefer to write down my plans rather than trap them beneath a glass screen is because they cannot be erased with a touch in latter method. I can always go back, check on my plans, and see how far I’ve come & how much I’ve accomplished in that duration of time. Writing words makes them a part of my history; while planning, words turn into future milestones. When my team members asked me why I prefer writing, this was the best way I could answer.
Writing gives us the ability to nail our roots in history and get ready to take a leap into the future.
Of course, these days the digitized options have made it much easier to document and structure our words and plans. Crtl+F has saved my time (and sometimes my job, I kid you not) more often than I can count. I am not against usage of digitized methods but you can systematically and methodically log your messy & scattered thoughts in 4 partitions of a diary. All you need is the will to actually want to implement the habit; believe me you will find a way.
Again,you may think, what should I do if I can’t write in certain circumstances, like while I am driving or do not have a pen or paper to note down? Ever considered the option of recording your ideas! When you record your voice on your phone (remember Mr. Loius Litt in Suits, his Dictaphone!!!), you not only capture the idea, but the notion of its origination (not to mention the time saved). You are able to encapsulate your thoughts, even if it is a vivid & cluttered image; you can always go back and hear not only the words, but also the rationality and sentiments behind them.
I inculcated the habit of promptly noting down ideas that felt valuable a few years ago. Once that moment is gone, once the unwritten idea fades by distractions, its essence is irretrievable. And I wonder how many good ideas I lost by not starting this habit sooner.
Sit with a pen and a diary, a cup of coffee, and scribble down those chaotic thoughts of yours. Do share your experiences.