The Power of Things Written on a Piece of Paper


The invention of writing was meant to be for one generation to pass the torch, knowledge onto the next one. But little did we know that writing begat new leverage of human emotions. With the right writing, we can use our human emotions to our advantage. Here is how.


“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.”

― Octavia E. Butler

Ideas may sound obvious and even unrealistic in our heads. But wonder it does when we write them on a piece of paper. An idea when thought of in our head, it may have its doubts. But that very idea, when put on a piece of paper, seems more convincing.


Writing down priorities, appointments, deadlines on a piece of paper is a highly celebrated practice by CEOs and important executives.

It is said that once Einstein was asked for his phone number from a colleague, and he started searching for a telephone directory to look up his own phone number! To his amusement the colleague said, “You are considered to be the smartest man in the world and you can’t remember your own phone number!” Einstein simply said, “Why memorize something that you can just look up?”

We overburden our brain by making it remember every single to-do’s we have throughout the day, making it impossible for the brain to think clearly and focus on one thing at a time.

Here is why we should consider writing our priorities down.

1)   It declutters our brain enabling us to focus better on the task at hand

2)   Every time we get done with a task or priority, we get to cross that off the list which triggers a sense of accomplishment for our brain which hits us with a boost of dopamine.

Dopamine is the hormone of pleasure. And the pursuit of dopamine can be so addicting for our brain that we might be reaching out to the next task on the list right away.


Goals backed up by a C-5 Plan (Compelling-Consistent-Concise-Clear-Committed), can make a huge impact on our subconscious mind. “A goal properly set is halfway reached.” -Zig Ziglar.

A renowned Harvard study of Goal-setting has shown that people who have their goals written somewhere are more likely to reach beyond their goals than those who just think their goals through in head.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

-Pablo Picasso

Four things promoted by Pablo Picasso. Goals, a plan, belief, and acting accordingly. All of which only comes from consistency. And a written goal with a plan is just that.

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

-Mark Victor Hansen


“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

— Anne Frank

We have all seen the affectivity of writing down ideas, priorities, and goals increases as we go. But when it comes to worries, the affectivity of worries diminishes as we write them down. It is because we humans exaggerate the dreads and consequences in our heads way too much. Author and lifestyle analyst Dale Carnegie put this term of worry-busting well in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. He has put forth this anti-worry technique that consists of three easy steps.

Step 1. Estimate what is the worst that can happen.

Step 2. Wholeheartedly, accept the worst and the casualties it begets.

Only then can you move on to Step 3 which is, now that you are okay with the worst casualties, extrapolate ways to minimize them.

Overwhelmed by all the dreads and worries, our first instinct is to lose our rationality and objectivity. Thinking 3 steps and answering them on paper, we get to keep our cool we need at the moment.


Acknowledging and saying the things you are thankful for out loud is a celebrated ritual in almost every culture and religion. Muslims are encouraged to say Alhamdulillah, Americans are required to give an “I’m thankful for…” speech over a toast on Thanksgiving. This practice of being grateful for the existing things we have was originated from our ancestors. Well, they were onto something. Physiologically, the practice of gratitude lowers blood pressure, boosts a hit of dopamine and serotonin, known as Anti-depressant Hormones. Psychologically, it reduces our stress, enabling us to have a sound sleep. It is basically, to borrow a psychologist’s words, the practice of thinking about what you have rather than dwelling on what you don’t. Here is how you can harness the practice of writing gratefulness down on a paper.

1)   Think and thank someone on a chit mentioning the things you really appreciate about them

2)   Build a Bullet Journal Notebook to write down your small accomplishments

3)   Count your blessings on a piece of paper and have it laminated. Recite them every night before you sleep and wait for your subconscious to kick in and do the magic


Now that I wrote these points down, I believe in them even more. This is how it works. Try having a notebook and try today.

Writer: Minhaz Alvee

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