When you want to be more productive there are so many different articles out there that it can be hard to know where to look. That’s why we’ve focused on one particular area that’s been shown, over and over again, to help boost personal productivity: handwriting.
You might think that it’s old fashioned. Perhaps it’s something you did in school? Maybe you think it’s too low tech when you have a keyboard ready and waiting, but there’s still a place for it in the digital age. In fact, we’re going to convince you that handwriting is the missing piece of the productivity puzzle you’ve been searching for. Take a look at these 11 reliable ways it can boost your personal productivity, and you’ll be a convert by the time you get to the bottom of the page.
You can improve your concentration
First things first, we need to mention the grave issue of concentration fragmentation. This is something that’s risen sharply with smartphones, apps, and particularly social media. If you’re constantly exposed to a never-ending supply of novel stimuli (alerts, messages, updates, etc) then you’re never going to be able to sit there and concentrate on a high-value task.
What you think is only a 30-second glance at Facebook is actually a dip in your concentration. This dip can dampen down your productivity for the next 30 minutes. That means you’re just not getting the most out of yourself — it’s like trying to work in second gear all day long when everyone else is cruising at top speed.
Handwriting sets you free to get creative
Imagine if you want to embark on a career transition that takes working life in an exciting new direction. If you were only ever used to doing the same thing, day after day, and never looked up from your word processor or spreadsheet then you’d never be able to see the other opportunities out there, would you?
That’s exactly what happens when you limit yourself to sitting at your desk, typing away, every single day. Handwriting is a free-flowing and creative experience that allows you to add flourishes of style whenever the mood takes you. It’s about expressing yourself and getting creative, and they’re what will open up new ideas and sparks of inspiration for you.
It helps boost your memory
Your memory is one of your greatest assets in the workplace, so why aren’t you using it more? When you’re sat in front of your Mac and it autocorrects and recommends constantly, you’re not really having to think all that much about the content you’re producing.
When you handwrite, on the other hand, you have to think for yourself so much more. Granted, when you first start it’s going to feel a little slower, but that’s because you’re actually giving your brain a workout. In time you’ll find that your memory has taken a step up and you can cruise through your day so much easier.
“I try to handwrite for at least 30 minutes a day. It’s something that I find really pays dividends over the long term because I can feel my memory getting better, and my concentration and focus improving. I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it, you’ll be surprised how effective it really is!” — says Marie Fincher, Head of Content at TrustMyPaper.
It’s the simple way to reduce screen time
There’s a whole host of apps out there that will send you reminders to limit your screen time so you can give your eyes a rest. We all know there’s really no substitute for pulling out a pen and paper. You’re instantly disconnected from the online world — and the myriad distractions it offers — and left to focus on one task. There’s a lot to be said for this back-to-basics approach, so why not give it a try?
Planning your workload becomes so much easier
If you want to be productive you’re going to have to be able to plan your workload like a pro, there’s just no getting away from that. Many people resort to complex electronic calendars and scheduling apps that ping reminders at them all day long. However, there’s a much more effective way than that.
By having a handwritten to-do list on your desk you can quickly and easily make changes to your schedule. Allowing you to react to the events of the day. Circling key tasks, crossing out others, and grouping jobs as you rearrange your day is so quick and easy it’s a wonder more people don’t do it.
Inspiration is only ever a doodle away
One of the great things about handwriting is that it’s so quick and easy to stumble across a spark of inspiration that seems to just jump out at you. If you let your mind wander when you’re thinking over a problem, you’ll find your pen starts leading the way as it glides across the paper. A quick sketch, doodle, a couple of key phrases noted down; they can all add up to that big breakthrough you would have never have found if you were staring at a screen and refreshing your inbox.
Getting strategic is what it’s all about
Picture yourself going through a personal rebrand, what would that look like? Well, the point we’re making is that right now you probably don’t know, and that’s fine. Faced with a screen you would think for 5 seconds and then ask Google. If you were armed with only a pen and paper, however, you’d start thinking about the nuances involved. Gradually you would piece together a bespoke approach that’s better tailored to your needs. Once you start doing that you’re strategizing! Which is what all of the world’s most productive people do on a daily basis.
Free-writing lets your thoughts flow onto the page
Sometimes all you need to do is let your imagination run away with you as you put pen to paper. Free-writing is all about letting a stream of consciousness flow effortlessly onto the page. It tends to be more effective than you might think.
“When I’m faced with a complex problem I need to solve I like to free-write for 15 minutes. I find it helps me organize my thoughts and come up with new ideas I would have never thought of otherwise” — says Estelle Leotard, writer at Studicus.
Brain dumps are a great way to process your thoughts
Becoming the most productive person you know isn’t about working longer hours, it’s about working smarter during those hours. By taking a side of the paper and writing down everything that’s on your mind you can organize your thoughts in just a couple of minutes. Reread it, sleep on it, and then read it again in the morning. This way you’ll have all sorts of new and exciting ideas.
Tracking progress is easier than with any app
Progress tracking apps are all well and good, but they can easily become distractions. The easiest way is to keep a few simple notes on a piece of paper on your office wall. That’s really all it takes to track performance. Make it as simple as possible, and you’ll find that it really helps with your focus and direction.
Writing by hand makes your goals more tangible
Last but not least, handwriting helps you buy into your goals. Because you’ll see what you want to achieve written in your own handwriting it’ll seem so much more real and attainable. When it comes to being super productive, believing you can do it is half the battle.
Now that you’ve seen how handwriting can take your productivity to the next level! All you have to do is start putting our hints and tips into practice. Pick a couple to focus on, turn them into habits, and then add a new one every couple of days. It’ll make more of a difference than you think.