Write out the list of things you need to do

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You should do more writing when you’re thinking about the list of things you need to do. I wrote this list in longhand. That may seem strange in a world where we type practically everything, and I find it a particularly good way to organize my thoughts.

It is it productive to make lists? You might find it to be busy work, a useful skill, or just a procrastination effort. I find that making a list of things allows me to stack rank or highlight the most important things, remember when deadlines occur, and to see more clearly where the items fit together.

Writing text (or anything in longhand) is useful for a couple of reasons. First, it forces me to slow down – I can type faster than I can write these days – and makes me think. Seeing the words appear little by little on the page makes them feel more deliberate and considered. I believe it’s harder to commit to an idea when the information just appears (poof) fully formed from a cut and paste or other method. Writing the words out forces you to think about why the idea is there on the figurative page and what you really meant to say.

The second reason working in longhand is useful is that this practice builds in a guaranteed cycle of reading and revising. How often do you write something the first time, then upon reading it later wish you had taken the time to improve it? Even when I have trouble reading my own handwriting, I gain at least one editing pass to say the words out loud or in my head and to rephrase my thoughts. The first draft is not usually finished at the end of that first writing.

Finally, writing with a stylus (your choice – use a pen, pencil, chalk, whiteboard marker, or something else) activates different parts of your brain. Writing longhand gets you thinking in a more expansive way than typing or tapping.

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