Just Write It Down
Last month I started forming a new habit, I call it: just write it down
Here’s how “just write it down” works for me. When I have a thought and can safely write it down, I do so.
Here are the types of things I’ve been writing down:
- If I just had an idea around fixing a bug or the root cause of an issue.
- If I just thought of a future enhancement for a project I am working on.
- If I just had an idea for a business, side project or tool.
- If I’m having an emotional reaction to something a client said.
- If I’m feeling upset, frustrated or angry.
Sometimes writing it down means opening note taking software. Sometimes it’s grabbing the pen and notebook on the desk I am working at. Sometimes it means leaving the room to grab that same notebook.
Why this new habit? To stay focused.
When I do focused work these thoughts turn into distractions. I only have so much working memory. These thoughts can evict something urgent and hamper my understanding. This is how these distractions then disrupt my focus.
My goal is to take these thoughts and get them off my mind before they turn into distractions. By writing down the thought I know the thought is safe. It is safe from being forgotten. It is also safe from eviction by the next thought.
Staying focused is not limited to work. Staying focused means being in the moment. Some folks call this being present. I want to be present when speaking with my partner. I want to be in the moment when I’m enjoying a meal.
These days I am comfortable blurring the lines between personal and professional. I am fortunate enough to work from home. A bug fix and an emotional reaction might share a page in the same paper notebook. I don’t think I could bring myself to do this in a traditional office setting where I don’t have as much privacy.
For now I’m okay with the inefficiency of thoughts, feelings and ideas in different systems. Someone suggested a recurring time block where I organize and reflect. So the next step after “just write it down” may be something called “organize and reflect”.