Take a Note
Stop for a minute. Close your eyes, and think of something. A person. A place. A dream. Visualize it, and see it so clearly that you believe it’s real. Now take out a pen and a sheet of paper, and write it down.
There’s something special about writing down your thoughts. Thoughts are fleeting, disappearing as quickly as they occur. Putting your thoughts on paper allows you capture a moment of clarity, adding permanency to a brief instant of understanding.
Every weekend morning, I devote a few minutes to transcribing my thoughts. Whether it’s about work, about dreams, or just something I make up, it doesn’t matter. Morning is my most creative time, and weekend mornings are especially quiet. Only then do I have a chance to put thoughts clearly on paper.
Why go through all the trouble of writing stuff down? For me, it’s to get them out of my head. Once something is on paper, you don’t have to remember it anymore. In all honesty, once I write something down, I typically don’t remember it anymore. And why should I? It’s written down.
With all that junk out of my mind, I can think more clearly. Every single day, we are deluged with an enormous amount of information. And let’s be honest, most of these audio and visual sound bites are complete rubbish. Even so, each of these nuggets sticks in your head, even if just for a little bit. Without some way to filter the junk and purge the trash, how would anyone know what he or she truly believes and understands?
Writing stuff down is very helpful when organizing thoughts. In order to effectively communicate, you have to be able to explain ideas. The best communicators bring clarity to complex subjects. These expert communicators don’t necessarily have superhuman intelligence or intuition. But they have learned how to explain these ideas to their toughest critics – themselves. How do they do it? The best method I’ve found is in writing.
If you can’t write down an idea, you probably don’t understand it, and you certainly can’t explain it. Documenting a concept will quickly expose any gaps in your comprehension. If you truly get it, the writing won’t be a problem. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself writing and rewriting the same sentence over and over.
Writing and documenting are not skills just for the literary minded folks. The inability to write stuff down significantly impacts technical tasks and engineering. The most common mistake I observe amongst the technology crowd is the failure to document a design before implementation. Too many folks take the “Build it now, ask questions later” approach.
Here’s a challenge to all my IT friends: Start documenting your projects before implementation. Take the time to confirm your end result before you begin. I guarantee that you will immediately observe an improvement in your efficiency and a reduction of your defect counts.
When you sum it all up, I guess what I’m trying to say is that a simple act of creativity helps us to become better people. Writing requires us to focus our thoughts and provides clarity to our motivations. Our written words establish boundaries and ensure each of us live with a purpose. Do you have goals for your life? Do you know what you want to accomplish? Do you have a bucket list? Any long journey is much easier if you have a map to your destination.
Do you have yours?