Life Hack: Write It Down

One of the most useful life hacks I’ve learned or stumbled upon (I can’t really recall the origin) is to write things down, and do so immediately.

Wake up in the morning with a brilliant business idea? Write it down.

Connect the dots between something you’re reading and how to create something useful from it? Write it down.

Come upon a website you know will be useful later? Write it down.

Have a lightning bolt idea that would make a great short story or article? Write it down.

Finally think of the solution to a problem that’s been troubling you at work? Write it down.

Your boss or a client mentions a task to be done. Write it down.

Make a date with a friend? Write it down.

I write just about everything down. Ideas. Names and contacts. Websites. Quotations. Books to read. Helpful life advice. Money making ideas. Tasks. Calendar entries. Everything!

And I write them down immediately! The human brain is an odd thing. It’s astonishing how you can have a brilliant idea and then 20 minutes later forget the specifics about it, or even what it was at all. So, write stuff down the moment you’re able to do so.

Sometimes I write something down directly in its final repository. For example, I might put a friend’s name and phone number in my smartphone contacts as I’m talking to them.

Most of the time however I end up writing it down someplace and later transfer it elsewhere where it belongs long-term. For example, I have a single Word file in which I keep all the quotations I want to remember. I have another Word file I call my Web Library where I put site URLs along with a brief description under topic categories. I have dozens of such specific repositories, mostly as Word or Excel files.

When I say “write” it down, I rarely actually write down anything. I tend to use my laptop (if I’m in front of it) or my smartphone to document whatever I want to document. I use a program called Evernote that replicates all my notes across every device (smartphone, laptop) and in the cloud (website) so I can retrieve them multiple ways from anywhere at any time. I then eventually move stuff from that Evernote file to where it ultimately belongs and will be easily retrievable.

I do not recommend databases for such repositories. I know it sounds great in theory, but the truth is simplicity matters. Basic, flat file information such as a Word or Excel file works a lot better for most of us. And there’s never some weird conversion issue if someday you switch database programs.

Anyway, this has proven useful in my life. Maybe you’ll find it useful too.