Write every day

man smiling while writing

Most of us go through our lives without really reflecting on the experiences life gives us. We read books and articles, we watch videos and hear people talk, but we rarely write down our ideas that arise from said experience.
Life is short, if you don’t pay attention to it.

By making it a habit to write a little bit every day, we give structure to our thoughts. It provides a scaffolding we can use to construct our own theories and ideas, preferably backed by literature, while also testing our own understanding. A lack of structure might make us indifferent to our thoughts and provides no real grounds for comparison with our peers1. We do not want that, do we now.

I will not be going into detail about how to take notes as there is a lot of literature on the subject already. If you are interested in strengthening your long-term memory with systematic note-taking, I would highly recommend you read How to Take Smart Notes and look into Andy Matuschak’s Evergreen Notes.

Consistency over length

Our aim is not to impress with the fortitude needed for lengthy study sessions, our goal is to form a habit. Many times have I thrown myself into the deep end in the fits of inspiration only to quickly grow tired and set whatever is left aside to collect dust in silence.

If you want to form a habit, start small to make certain you will actually do it2. It is also advisable to leverage some other habits trigger for your habit to be.

So in the context of this article, you could redirect the urge for stimulation you feel in the morning from passively taking in the news or social media, to writing down some reflections that come to mind and build on your existing ideas.

Read with a pen in hand

woman writing while reading

Combine your daily writing practice with reading, and you are in a way conversing with the text. Storing the knowledge and ideas you have taken from literature in your short-term memory is not at all sustainable as it is apparently only able to hold about seven different topics at any one time3.

Another good reason for writing down our ideas as we read, is that unsolved tasks lingering in our memory are causing stress. Lucky for us, the brains definition of solved does not have to coincide with our own. Because of this, it is enough to write the task down a place where we trust in that it will be done1. In this context “tasks” can be interpreted as “something the brain has to process” and “done” can be interpreted as “written down”, therefore, out of sight out of mind. We are benefited to reduce and control our excessive thinking4 and writing our reflections down is a way to do exactly that.

Read good books

Do not waste your time with literature which is boring you. Life is too short for such inconsequential input5. A book is not implicitly of quality. Books, in and by themselves, as a tool for learning, do not have any explicit theories rooted in science as to why they would teach you anything6.

Filtering out content on the grounds of lack of interest will help by giving room to new inputs, better aligned with your agenda and food for thought to spark new ideas and theories.

Take simple notes

Spend just enough time on each note so that you are sure you have captured the essence of the idea. It is important that the idea is not compressed, taking away some of the details of the original concept. Simple notes communicate the totality of understanding using few and simple words.

Make sure to write down your understanding in your own words. Take notes, do not recount. Notes are useless if you have to start over your thought process each time you use them.

Every note counts

man with gold in hands

Always record something, even if it is just a couple of words. Just the fact that you are writing an idea down on paper and thinking about its connections to your existing knowledge, is in itself research.

We often refrain from doing something because we worry the work we are doing is not of sufficient quality. The possible failure or ridicule that may come as a result of our actions paralyzes us to inaction. Instead of worrying if the quality of the note is up to some arbitrary standard, be mindful of the dangers of inaction.

To be afraid of others judgment is not uncommon, but it stems from a place of arrogance and our desire for acknowledgment; a source of negative emotion4. Failure as a result of action is not really failure, but a process, where you learn from your actions7. So write down your ideas and reflections. Do not be afraid to grow.


  1. Ahrens, S. (2017). How to take smart notes: one simple technique to boost writing, learning and thinking: for students, academics and nonfiction book writers. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace. ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. A discussion on meditation and habit with a friend ↩︎

  3. Miller, G. A. (1956). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information. ↩︎

  4. Koike, R. (2021). The practice of not thinking: a guide to mindful living. ↩︎ ↩︎

  5. Seneca, L. A., Costa, C. D. N., Seneca, L. A., Seneca, L. A., & Seneca, L. A. (2005). On the shortness of life. New York: Penguin Books. ↩︎

  6. https://andymatuschak.org/books/ ↩︎

  7. https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/behavior/meditations-wisdom-action/ ↩︎