When it comes to creating a life I love, there is one change in my habits that has allowed me to shift the way I think: I’m writing by hand more often. As most of you like do also, I have a plethora of electronics and apps that help me manage my work and my life. I have a smart phone, laptop, and combo printer/scanner. I use Outlook, Google Calendar, Scrivener, Excel, WordPress, and more. I am grateful for all of them.
My calendars, especially, keep me on track. What keeps me sane, though, is my Bullet Journal. Simply tracking both what I need to do along with what I’ve done each day allows me to soothe the negative bias we humans have.
See, each one of us does dozens of things each day. Yet, the negative bias that we humans have looks at the gaps, what we are not doing, what we are missing, what we have failed to do. So we reach the end of a day and feel like we have accomplished nothing. That’s what using a Bullet Journal is doing for me – helping me shift my own Negativity Bias and close that gap. That’s how it’s helping save my sanity and cultivate a life that is nourishing.
Yes, I could use an app to help me manage my “To Do” list, but writing by hand is more effective and more efficient for me. Research even supports my choice to go a bit old school: writing by hand allows us to process our thoughts in a more powerful manner. Writing by hand engages both sides of the brain, and further, when we are writing by hand, the linked regions of our brains are also activated. This doesn’t happen when you type or text.
I also keep a written journal. This is a practice I began in high school returned to in 2013. When it comes to long-form journaling, writing by hand helps me be more compassionate with myself. It propels me into awareness, forcing me to get real. When life feels overwhelming and emotional, my journaling practice helps me find the space of logic.
Writing by hand also helps bring me clarity, something all this research supports. That’s one of the reasons I took two of my favorite eCourses and turned them into books, and in the paperback versions of each book, I left lots of space for writing.
Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desire will assist a person in getting clear about what they want for their life and set goals.
Writing them down helps us to achieve our goals. A 1979 study by Harvard of their MBA students discovered that those MBA Students who wrote down their goals earned ten times the amount of money as their peers who didn’t follow the same practice. Though money isn’t everything, this study illustrates that writing down what you wants helps you make it happen.
But these aren’t the only reasons writing by hand can help you create a life you love:
Writing by hand helps you focus
The elegant simplicity of having only a pen in my hand and paper in front of me helps me focus. When I’m typing on the computer, it’s so easy to check in on Facebook or get lost down a rabbit hole of research. What takes me ten minutes to write on paper can take a half hour or more to draft on the computer because of all the distractions.
Writing by hand helps you write better
Not only do I journal, though, I’ve begun writing blog posts and parts of my next book by hand, too. Research from 2009 with elementary students found that writing by hand helps students write better than they do using a keyboard.
And those blog posts and pieces of the book I am writing by hand? Yes, they eventually need to be electronic, which allows me to hone the work with editing, because by the time it’s digital, it’s already a second draft.
Writing by hand is better for learning
According to a study conducted by Princeton’s Pam A. Mueller and UCLA’s Daniel M. Oppenheimer when you only use a laptop to take notes, you don’t absorb new materials as well. See, when you type during a lecture or meeting, you’re more likely to type out the info verbatim, like a transcript. Writing by hand is slower, and since you can’t take down what’s said word by word, the brain processes the ideas, allowing you to comprehend and retain the ideas and thoughts expressed.
Writing by hands sharpens aging minds
Writing by hand is a great tool for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they get older. Writing longhand is a workout. No, not necessarily for your wrist, but for your brain. All that retention from writing notes by hand leads into other fascinating research: writing by hand helps our memory, even as our brain (and us) ages. Just like doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku helps exercise the brain, the act of writing by hand can exercise the brain, too.
This is good news, and incentive as I approach fifty, that’s for sure. And it makes me doubly glad that, in addition to journaling and keeping a bullet journal, I’ve gone old school on some of my correspondence: writing letters.
I know that writing by hand can seem archaic in our modern times. Computers are here to stay, it seems, and that’s fine. Technology is useful. But we benefit when we curate and cultivate our lives by writing by hand.
Besides, think about how much getting a real, handwritten note from a friend brightens your day.
Writing by hand can help you love your life? I can help you get started!
Discover the unique path to your own heart and soul. With a collection of 30 intriguing exercises, Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desire helps you to peel away everything that gets in the way of your truest, deepest desires.
By doing the work right inside the book, you’ll learn to create a life that’s more resonant with “the real you” than anything you’ve previously experienced. In short, you’ll forever change your life for the better.
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