Episode 161: Four Reasons To Write Plans On Paper
Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the show. This is episode one hundred and sixty-one, four reasons to write on paper. I’ve been excited to share this episode with you because I am a paper person.
I enjoy technology, and I appreciate the speed at which it helps us communicate. When it comes to getting thoughts, dreams, plans, ideas out of my head, my very favorite place to put them is onto paper.
Sponsor: Golden Coil (use BLACKFRIDAY for 15% off)
Of course, you know, it’s no surprise by now that this episode, this month’s worth of planning, episodes is all brought to you by Golden Coil planner, which is my very first. Paper planner. Let me tell you a little bit about the paper itself inside the Golden Coil planner.
It is 80-pound Mohawk paper. 80-pound paper is– if you imagine maybe three, a little more than three regular printer sheets of paper together, like you can imagine like floppy copy paper. That’s about 25, 20-to-25-pound paper. Mohawk paper is not as thick as cardstock and it’s soft, but it’s thick enough that as you write on it, it absorbs the ink beautifully.
You don’t see from one side of the page to the other, regardless of what type of pen you’re using. Even if you use like a fine point Sharpie, it doesn’t bleed through the paper. So I can write on every bit of my planner.
And if you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve seen, I did a full walkthrough of my 2021 Golden Coil planner from cover to cover, to show you the pages that I choose, the layouts that I prefer and how I like to use the different types of pages.
And you can see that the notes go all over, up and down into the margins. It’s wonderful, wonderful paper. There’s something really deluxe and luxurious about writing on really nice paper.
Of course, the paper is not the only feature of Golden Coil that I love. It is a fully customizable planner. Meaning you get to choose your layouts.You get to choose the start and end dates, which is perfect if you want to do a partial year planner, if you want to do an academic year, if you want to start right now at the beginning of the year and go all the way through the next academic year, you can choose the layouts. You can choose the timeframe. You can order it at any time during the year and not have to waste any pages.
And right now, this week is the beginning of the black Friday sale.
So, you can use the code BLACKFRIDAY for 15% off any planner or notebook goldencoil.com. That same code black Friday will be valid for 15% also, the 26th through the 29th of this month. S
You can mark those in your calendar to order yourself a Golden Coil planner, completely customizable for this upcoming year with the luxurious paper for 15% off.
Segment: Pause For A Poem
Now to get us started on this episode, I want to share a quick pause for a poem:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning is a new arrival, a joy, a depression, a meanness.
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor welcome and entertain them all treat each guest honorably. The dark thought. The shame. The malice.
Meet them at the door, laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Four Benefits of Writing On Paper
As we’re focusing on planning this month, I thought it would be really nice to give you some encouragement to write those plans down on paper. Today I want to share for specific reasons why.
I know, it’s really easy to grab your phone and to jot things down in the notes app, to use a Google calendar and iCalendar for your daily scheduling and your appointments.
And I do those things. I have my technology where I can write things down in a notes app quickly to remember them or where I can keep track of my appointments and set myself reminders and alarms for those, because I need those.
And I also have found such value in using a pen and paper to be able to write down and visually see on paper, the plans that I’m making, and the goals that I have. I also use the notes spaces in my planner to dream, to create outlines, to go over ideas, to take notes during meetings, to write things down in real life with my hand on the paper.
So, the four reasons that I’m going to share today are all things that have been grounded in science and proven through research studies to be really beneficial.
Reason Number One: It Activates Your Brain
The first reason why it’s a good idea to write things down on paper is because it activates your brain in an entirely different way than when you’re typing something in digitally.
When we write something down with our hand, it uses a part of our brain that is synthesizing information, not only absorbing it and like writing things down verbatim or, or translating it straight from someone else’s mouth or, or our head into a note, but we’re actually starting to create meaning from it.
We create meaningful pathways for memory. There are studies done and students who wrote physical notes were far more likely to retain the information and to have a better overall understanding of the information than people who were typing notes in their computer, because the physical action of writing something down activates an entirely different part of our brain.
I find that taking a note down in my notes app is really good when I hear something that I don’t want to forget. And I want to just like write it down verbatim, or if I’m out on a walk or something, and I happen to have my phone along and I have like a flash of an idea come to me, but it’s not the place that I flesh out that idea.
Allowing myself to kind of brainstorm doesn’t ever feel like it works as well digitally as it does on paper, because the creative piece of our brain is activated with the physical action of writing pen or pencil to paper. So, using that activation in our brains, can help us aid because we’ll remember it.
If you write it down, you’re more likely to remember it. That can go for an appointment as well as a goal or an idea. And it also will help you be more creative.
If you’re using the writing down process for journaling or brainstorming or creating outlines or even taking notes in a meeting where you’re synthesizing information, instead of just verbatim copying it down, you are going to have better outcomes writing on paper.
Reason Number Two: It Limits Distractions
Now the second benefit, the second reason to write things down on paper is because it greatly limits your distraction. How many of you have gone to open your phone to put in an appointment or to click something on your, to do calendar, and then you’ve been sucked into a notification by an app, or you’ve noticed that you had a new text message or that some emails had come in?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened my phone to accomplish one task, and 30 minutes later, I emerge from the rabbit hole wondering what just happened. When you’re writing something down on paper, you don’t have all of the different avenues of distraction that you do with any type of technology.
You just have your paper; your paper doesn’t want to give you any notifications. It doesn’t want to alert you of the latest news. It doesn’t want to tell you what your neighbor is having for breakfast on Instagram. It’s simply wants to be a receptacle for you to create, you can clear out your brain with just the output and limit the distraction of any input coming back.
In addition to that one huge benefit of writing on paper is that it is an actual physical rest for your eyes. You don’t have the blue light from a screen. You don’t have any of the strain of looking through the lights of technology. Of course, you probably want to make sure you have a good light on, I don’t recommend like journaling by candlelight, unless you’re feeling very romantic.
Being able to rest your eyes and clear your head is a great reason to use paper when you’re writing.
This reminds me a lot of when I was working as a counselor, a wilderness counselor in a drug rehab and psychotherapy environment. A lot of times the lead therapist would give assignments to the girls, the students in the program to write out all of their thoughts on paper. Of course, we didn’t have technology because we were out in the middle of the wilderness. But knowing that writing things down is a way to get them out of your head. Writing them physically on paper is a way to clear them out of your head. So, you can see your own thoughts more clearly.
Have you ever had this situation where you’re feeling really overwhelmed or stressed out? You take the time to write everything down, that’s happening in your head and you’re able to see it. And you no longer feel all the stress inside because you’ve gotten it down? You can look at it, you can observe it more objectively.You can step away from it and come back to it. You can prioritize it once it’s out.
A lot of times, things are a lot bigger in our heads than they are when we write them down. I know often I feel. When I have a few different types of appointments in a row, or I know I have school pickup and then I have something going on for work, and I have a call in the morning, and I want to get in a walk, I can start to feel like everything’s on top of each other. As soon as I take the time to write it down in my planner (I have this great vertical layout for each of my days) and I can see them visually.
I can actually see the flow of my day. It’s really helpful for me to overcome some of the overwhelm that I can feel if I have a lot of things in my head. As soon as I get them out onto paper, I start to feel a little bit better about everything because I can see that I have plenty of time. I don’t need to be in a hurry. I don’t need to be worried.
Limiting your distraction and being able to clear out your brain without any of the input of technology kind of sucking you down the rabbit hole is a great reason to pull out your paper planner or a notebook when you want to actually get some things written down.
Reason Number Three: It Increases Creativity
Number three is that it can inspire creativity.
There is almost nothing that feels as wide open a possibility to me as a new sheet of paper. I can flip over a page onto a new blank sheet, and all of the sudden I feel like anything is possible. I can literally write my own story. I can plan for my life.
I mentioned this week on Instagram, when I did kind of a walkthrough of my Golden Coil planner that around this time, every year I do a practice that I call my Big Dreams. (I’m going to talk more about this in next week’s episode).
The idea is to get all of these big dreams out on paper. And then I refer back to them throughout the year. I feel like I’m more creative when it’s just me and my thoughts and a paper and pen I can look around, and I can observe what’s happening in the world. I can look inside. I can listen to those little whisperings of desire.
Staring at a blank page may seem overwhelming if you’re trying to like write the next great American novel. But for most of us, it’s a great opportunity to have the space, to brainstorm, have the space, to get creative, to make a little bit of a mess, to be able to scratch things out and write them down and draw arrows and go back and forth and just get it out.
I think it’s really interesting that several very notable creatives writers choose to write on paper in their first draft. As I was looking into some different ideas for this episode, I found an article that noted that Quintin Tarantino and Joyce Carol Oates, both still write the first draft of their creative work all in longhand on paper. So, Quintin Tarantino is writing his screenplays physically with a pen. He doesn’t just open up the computer and start typing.
I find this incredible! While I love writing on paper in my day-to-day life, I did type my manuscript for my book on the computer. I can’t imagine having notebooks filled with handwriting, like handwritten stories to turn into a manuscript.
It is really interesting to note that there are some people that feel so strongly about the creative process of writing without the distraction of technology and feeling like they can be even more free when they’re writing on paper. It makes me think that there’s probably something to the ability of our minds to open up and be even a little bit more creative without the constraints of typing. Being able to just write the things that we want to write.
There was a study done by the university of Wisconsin psychologist, Virginia Berenger who tested school-aged children and found that they generated even more ideas when composing essays by hand, rather than on the computer.
And she said specifically that writing entails using the hand and finger to form the letters, the sequential finger movements activate multiple regions of the brain associated with processing information. So being able to come up with new and different ways of thinking about things, generating new ideas happens more readily through physically writing something down rather than typing it.
Reason Number Four: It Slows You Down
The fourth benefit of writing on paper is that it slows you down. Now this might not seem like a benefit because in our faster-paced world we tend to really value things that happen quickly. But it’s interesting to think about whether we actually want to be rushing through the plans that we make for our everyday life.
Do we want to move quickly through the ideas that ended up becoming how we spend our time, how we spend our energy and our resources? It’s interesting to think that something being slower as a benefit writing down on paper enables us to actually take the time to consider what it is we’re planning. In fact, I like to think about each of the things that I’m writing down.
I noticed when I’m writing either in my planner or up on our family calendar, we have this big wall calendar and I write down family activities and some of the lessons and things that impact all of us. Whether we have to drive someone to a lesson or something’s going on, you know, Plum has to hop on for her reading online, those types of things go on the calendar.
I notice a lot of them are repetitive. Milo has piano lessons on Wednesdays and Plum has Savvy Reading Monday through Thursday, and Eliot goes to Cub Scouts on Tuesday nights. So, I’m writing these things in the weekly boxes and I take the time to write it down and to consider, “Is this still something that we like doing?” as I’m writing it down.
It doesn’t automatically generate there like it does on a Google calendar where I just say, “repeat every Thursday” infinitely. I can, you know, write it down. And as I’m writing it, I’m taking the time to, to consider if this still something that serves us. Is this a way that we want to spend our time? What is the purpose of this activity? Is it something that we’re finding value in right now?
Sometimes just writing something down, over and over and over again you can notice that maybe this isn’t something we really want to do anymore. Or you notice as you’re filling in these boxes, that all of the days are looking pretty full and maybe you want to step back and evaluate whether we over-scheduled as a family.
It’s definitely a lot easier to feel the impact of all of those different layers of activities and plans when you’re physically taking the time to write them down, because it might take a while if you’re getting through all the different things.
The practice of writing down, even just family plans for the week becomes an exercise in intention, in purpose and in values.
In the case of writing down your plans and goals, having it be a slower process and not be automatic is actually a huge benefit.
Recap on the Four Reasons to Write Plans on Paper
I want to go back over the four reasons to write things on paper. Just as a quick refresher, before I close up this episode:
Number one, writing on paper activates your brain in different ways. It helps you synthesize the information. Deep pathways for better memory and it helps you make meaning of what you’re creating.
Number two, writing on paper limits your distractions. Your paper planner is not going to give you any feedback. It’s not going to give you any rabbit holes to jump down. It’s not going to give you any notifications and it will help you rest your eyes and clear your mind.
Number three, writing on paper boosts creativity. It helps you have new and different ideas and perspectives than you would if you were simply typing into your phone or into your computer.
Number four, it slows you down so that you consider the purpose, the meaning and the validity of the things that you are planning in your calendar, and the goals that you’re setting for yourself and your family.
A Note On Goals
On the topic of goals, as we’re heading into kind of the season of goal setting approaching the new year, I wanted to mention a landmark study done by professor Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California, where she found that if you write down your goals, you’re 42% more likely to achieve them.
42% more likely to achieve them by writing them.
I also really like this quote from Grant Cardone, who is a, the best-selling author of the 10X Rule.
He says he writes down his goals in the morning and again at night. And he says, this is why:
I want to wake up to it. I want to go to sleep to it. And I want to dream with it. I want to write my goals down before I go to sleep at night, because they’re important to me. They’re valuable to me and I get to wake up to them again tomorrow.
So, while I don’t write my goals down every night and every morning, I do physically write them down week over week, I keep a running to-do list of the things that I want to. In a week, I’d break it up into the home section, into my work section, into other kind of bigger ideas. And then as I schedule them, I move them off of my to-do list into my actual schedule.
Re-writing your to-do list every week creates space for evaluation.
I create a space for them on my calendar and whatever doesn’t get done during the week. I consider before I write it on the next weeks to-do list. I consider why it didn’t get done. Did it not get done because it actually isn’t very important to me? Or did it not get done because I didn’t create enough space for it? Or do I have to break it down into smaller tasks?
Maybe it’s not something that I can do all in one go, but it’s something that I need to break down into a couple other little to do tasks before I can accomplish the bigger thing.
Actually transferring and physically writing my to-do list or my task list and my goals from one week to the next, rather than just having it like roll over or live eternally in my phone helps me to prioritize. It helps me to consider whether I’m still interested in one goal or another or one task or another. And it helps me stay on task in the small things that keep me headed in the direction of the bigger things.
What Do You Think?
After I’ve presented these four important reasons to write your goals and dreams and plans down on paper, I’m curious what you think?
Are you already a paper person, a paper planner person? Can you see there are benefits to physically writing down your plans, physically working through your ideas and physically creating a schedule in a way that you will remember it and you will stick to it.
Even if it doesn’t become a full-time, regular process for you, I will absolutely guarantee that if you get in the habit over the next few weeks and a couple months of writing things down, as you’re planning for the holidays, as you’re planning for the upcoming family time, as you’re creating ideas for how you want your gatherings to feel what types of activities you want to do together as a family to create meaning together.
If you can write down on paper a picture of what you want these next few weeks to feel like and make some decisions about how you’re going to create those feelings, how you’re going to create the setting and the memories that will enable you to have those types of feelings. You’ll feel so much more clarity and finish out this year at the end of this year, with so much more meaning then if you simply live it on through without creating some intention by writing some of these things down.
I’m just a huge believer in getting our big ideas, small ideas, big dreams, small dreams, plans, and goals down on paper. And hopefully in this episode, you have learned a couple new things about how it might be beneficial for you to pull out the old paper and pen and start writing things down.
Thank you so much for tuning in today to episode 161 of the podcast! Make sure to subscribe. If you haven’t yet, feel free to leave a rating and a review on iTunes. Take a screenshot and share it on social media. And I will plan on chatting with you again next week. Same time, same place. I hope that you have a wonderful one.
I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.