There’s magic in that yellow legal pad!

By Joe Truncale
In November 7, 2014

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, a revealing idea confirmed what I believed for years (don’t you just love when that happens―confirming evidence from an objective, third party source?).

Now I am all for technology. I have two laptops, an IPad, two IPhones, a MacBook Air, and more IPods than I can count. But when I want to remember something, I write it down, and yes, the old fashioned way: on a piece of paper!

If you are an NFL football fan as I am, you may have noticed that players and coaches on the sidelines are constantly looking at their tablet computers.  But one team, the Cleveland Browns, took great notice of new academic studies that say writing by hand instead of typing improves the chances of remembering and learning something. And that is what they instruct their players (and coaches) to write it down!

The article cites a paper written by Daniel Oppenheimer, a professor of marketing and psychology at UCLA, and Pam Mueller of Princeton, titled, “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard.”  In it, they found that because the human brain can move so much more quickly than the human hand, the physical aspect of writing forces us to slow the cognitive thought process in a way that ensures that we grasp more fully the information we are writing down. And because we tend to write more slowly than we type, this slowing process increases the likelihood that we will remember.

When we write something down, it does something in our minds. This is especially true of goals. Some years ago, I took a Dale Carnegie Sales Course. It stressed the importance of goals, written goals. We were asked to write down several goals we wanted to accomplish in five years. I did this, took the special card it was written on, and put it away. I forgot all about the exercise until many years later, while packing up to move to a new house, I found it. I read it and was amazed to discover that every goal I wrote down, every single one, I had accomplished, including a few that I had no way of knowing would even be possible at the time.

Now there is much to be said for monitoring your goals on a regular basis, but even when you don’t, the simple act of writing it down burns it into your subconscious mind. Is it just a coincidence that I accomplished these goals?  Maybe. But I don’t think so. Something powerful happened the moment I wrote those goals down. And while it was lost in my conscious mind, it remained steadfast in my subconscious mind, working to drive me toward the things I intend to accomplish.

Want to remember something? Write it down.

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