The Write Stuff

THERE IS A LINK BETWEEN WRITING AND THINKING. When you write something, you remember it better. Done properly, it can also remove the idea from your head to a place where it can be more easily managed. Even knowing this, it is sometimes amazing what writing down just a couple words can do for you.

This is, of course, a well known phenomenon. It has something to do with creating multiple pathways in your brain to the same information. It’s the core of the GTD system: get it out of your head and into your system. It still amazes me that it works, and that your brain will relax when you do actually put things down on paper.

Something has been eating at me for the last week or so. I’ve had a hard time focusing on most of my information-based tasks (i.e. not things like “Go get milk”, but rather things that require actual thought). I know that something has taken up residence in my head, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what. Even after completing my weekly review, it was still hanging around.

Yesterday, finally, I decided to take a stab at what could be cluttering up my brain. I started a mind map for an as yet undisclosed project (Sorry, I just can’t talk about it yet – hopefully soon I can) that has a wide impact and that I have little control over at present. While definitely helpful for that project, it did not release the tension. This morning, while in my favorite thinking room (guess), a few small tasks came to me that needed to be taken care of. As the iPhone does not play nice with the shower, I did not write them down immediately.

I went through my morning routine, realizing at one point that we needed to pick up more diapers from Costco very soon. Out comes the iPhone, and in goes the note “Costco – diapers”. I also remembered to write down the other thing, and suddenly it was as if the clouds cleared and the sun came out.

“Review horizons of focus”

Yes, that’s right. My upper horizons are out of whack after the mess that has been the past year, and while I had an action to review and update them a while ago, it got sidetracked shortly after I started by an interruption. Especially given the projects I am working on presently, I cannot think clearly about the longer term because I don’t have it down on paper. But just writing it down, putting it in my inbox, and knowing that I will address it on Friday at the latest now is sufficient for me to stop worrying about it.

Todd Palino


I'm a dad, a small business owner, a systems engineer, a developer, and any number of other things.

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