Men of Order throughout history have known that one of the best ways to stay focused and keep your priorities straight is to use the power of pen and paper. But before you tune out “yet another blog about journaling” you should know that what I’m talking about isn’t the act of dutifully recounting your day on paper in the evening hours before you retire for the night.
It's a developmental building block to use as you see fit.
You need to understand that the hand-mind connection is one of the simplest life hacks for improving focus, creativity, productivity, comprehension, and stress relief.
You can make anything by writingC.S. Lewis
The physical act of putting pen to paper and writing symbols is hard coded into our DNA. A 2017 study found that the learning centers of our brains were more active while writing than when typing on a keyboard. A process called “Deep Encoding” was promoted while writing but NOT by typing.
As you write you are creating pathways in your subconscious to help you recall and imprint the information deeper into your mind than just by hearing alone. Writing improves your ability to prioritize information, process what’s important, and recall that later.
Writing is multi-sensory: you are not only using your eyes and your hands but your ears and nose. You hear the scratch of the pen on the page and you smell the paper as you open your notebook. All these things connect to your lizard brain and engage your mind at a primordial level.
This is just one of many studies that show how your brain and body is connected to learning and the process is writing is wired to the deepest regions of your higher-order thinking.
Just Do It
But it’s important to know that writing doesn’t have to be a burden. It should be whatever works for you. Quick notes, poems, single words, lists, or even doodles are all things you can do to leverage this powerful tool to enhance your life.
Nothing about writing should be cumbersome. It's personal and should fit into your life. No one has to see your notes and the handwriting you use only has to be understood by you. Over the course of time, you'll come up with your own shorthand that speeds up the rate at which you write.
But if you don’t keep the tools of writing handy, it’s hard to get the full benefit. So just like any good carpenter, you need to keep your tools at the ready. Get into the habit of always keeping a pen and paper on you or in your pack.
Find what works best for you, reporter pad or field notes. Pencil or pen? Find what is comfortable and invest. I personally have found the Classic Hardcover Moleskin Pocket Notebook to be the one that works for me. I’ve gotten mine in red and have used them for over ten years.
So writing promotes deep learning. Great. What else?
I’m glad you asked.
It’s also one of the cheapest forms of therapy around.
‘I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I write and I understand.’Chinese Proverb
Writing out your feelings is a proven method of self-care that helps anyone who does it. Writing out that thing you could never say out loud and then tearing up the paper without looking at it is cathartic in itself and good for lowering cortisol levels in your body. Seeing your feelings flow out of your mind and onto the page helps you process them and put them in context. It gives you a moment of reflection and lets you put things in perspective. Reflection, Perspective, and Objectivity are crucial pillars of being a Man of Order.
The important part is this: don’t be afraid of writing. Make it fit into your life however you can. You may just want to keep track of dates and names better or you might find that journaling your day helps you focus more. As a Man of Order, you should be encouraged to build upon the wisdom of the ancients and know that fostering the mind-body connection through pen and paper has never let anyone down.