Start with pen and paper

November 08, 2020  |  Hacker News  |  Twitter
writing   productivity  

tl;dr — If you feel unfocused, grab a pen and paper and start writing your thoughts down.

Is there a question you are stuck on? A ambiguous goal you're trying to accomplish? Maybe a task you know you need to do but from which you keep getting distracted?

Nothing will provide focus like pen and paper.

It's all too easy these days to have a clear intention only to be sidetracked by the whirlpool of apps and services clawing for our attention on our devices.

It helps to take the time to groom our notification settings for importance and timeliness, but a digital device that we can use to complete nearly any task will never stand up to pen and paper in terms of it's ability to provide focus.

My thoughts are a constant whirlwind, I'm certainly more distractible than most, and interacting with nearly any online service only fuels that fire. So how can I get anything done if I'm unable to control my focus?

Pen and paper. Whenever I catch myself stuck in the whirlpool, feeling not-great because I know I'm not doing what I want to be doing, or what I should be doing, I step away, grab pen and paper, and start writing.

The simple act of writing can focus my thoughts and attention in a way that nothing else can. Free from distractions, just a canvas to pour my thoughts into, and turn them into something with a sense of direction and purpose.

Writing is like a superpower to me. If there's any task I want to accomplish, the first step is always to write it down. Anytime I need to recenter myself on that task, I simply return to paper.

Throughout my life I've found that the simplest solutions are often the most powerful. So far I've found no simpler solution to start tackling any problem than to simply write it down, and then keep on writing.