Success Secrets: Write It Down

The third of the four little success secrets or success tips I casually mentioned in the Keep Moving Forward video post is: Write It Down.

As you saw in the video, there were pages of hand written notes capturing ideas I began developing for Paula Abdul and for a new business friend of mine, Greg Neel.  This may not seem all that important to you, but it is vital.

When you have an idea, write it down!

You might think you’ll remember it later, but odds are you won’t.  Trust me on this.  I’m literally a walking, talking, burping idea machine. I’ve been one for most of my life. Seriously, if I drink too much of my favorite Italian sparkling beverage, suddenly I find myself having to burp, and as I do, I will have yet another idea.

Now don’t make the mistake that plagued me.  When I was younger I thought my ideas were so great or so obvious that I couldn’t possibly forget them.  So, I’d confidently go about my day without having written anything down.  The next day I’d set aside some time to further develop the ideas I’d had the day before, but when I tried to remember the details, I couldn’t recall very much.

This wasn’t a case of needing to improve my memory.  I simply have too many ideas every day to keep track of them all in my head.

Hopefully, you don’t mistake this as bragging. This is my way of telling you I have lost many a wonderful and possibly profitable idea simply because I was too preoccupied to write down a note for myself.

When you write down notes, don’t try typing it into a document on your computer or your cell phone. Write it down on paper. Carry it around with you so you have the option to pull it out later and tinker with it or add more thoughts as you go.

You might be resisting this. You love your iPhone or your laptop and think you’ll be able to access it easier later on.  I disagree. I’ve seen far too many people take notes at seminars or in classes and relegate their notes, thoughts and ideas to their digital document where it gets forgotten in some file folder never to be referenced again.

The best students and the smartest people I’ve ever worked with, trained with or learned from all shared the common success secret habit of writing it down. In fact, my good friend and mentor, Kevin Hogan, is known for urging people at his seminars to do this.

I don’t know specifically why this is so, but I suspect the people who write their ideas and notes down are engaging more of their learning modalities.  They hear it.  They have to think about it as they look at what they’ve written. Many of them repeat it to themselves in a whisper or mutter it to themselves as they are writing. Yes, you have to do some of this as you type, but there’s something else that kicks in when you have to hold your pen or pencil and move more of your body.

Here’s another advantage of this success secret habit.

It takes the burden off your mind so you don’t waste unnecessary energy and focus trying to remember something. It’s so much easier to just write it down. You’ll be less distracted with thoughts of “What was that idea I had earlier?” and in turn this will give you more energy and focus for the things that need your attention throughout the day.

Do yourself a favor and write notes for yourself.  You can start right now. The very next idea you have or thing you know you need to get done tomorrow, take two minutes and write it down.  It’s one of the simplest, easiest, low-tech success secrets you can implement, but it makes such a huge difference.


The palest ink is stronger than the sharpest memory.

~ Chinese proverb


12 thoughts on “Success Secrets: Write It Down”

  1. This has ALWAYS been true for me and even more so (alas) as I get older. I carry a notebook with me everywhere. Important concept, Michael!
    Sonya Lenzo

  2. Michael,

    This is a GREAT tip and SO IMPORTANT!!! I used to think exactly like you said, “this is a great idea, I can’t wait to share it.” By the time I was ready to share it – hours or days later – all I could remember was that I HAD a good idea, what it was is anyone’s guess!

    Stay Extraordinary and Keep Doing Amazing Things, Neil

  3. I always hate to think that my memory doesn’t always keep track of every speck of every detail that I want, but, as you point out, it doesn’t. I’ve always had my dad urging me to write stuff down on paper, as I am very negligent to do, instead of typing everything out. I need to carry around a notepad. Seriously, everyone should.

    Thanks Michael!

    Mark Hogan

  4. Very profound words of wisdom. I agree that notes that get typed into a computer get forgotten quickly.

    I keep 2 journals with me at all times (and my Book of Lists). One journal is for personal reflection and the other is for notes, ideas, thoughts that may one day prove valuable to me or someone else. I also have made a habit of periodically reviewing these journals so I don’t forget what’s in them.

    Wealth Coach

  5. Hi Michael,

    You are dead on. Nothing takes the place of writing it down. When I am driving and I start getting idea I record them on my iPhone then the first chance I get I listen to the recording and write out the best parts. Digital is great for organizing but does not have the same effect as writing something. Outstanding advice.

  6. I would add a hand held recorder really helps out as well. I can’t write as fast as I would like. I transfer info to a pad later by hand because once I’ve written it down it seems to solidify in my memeory.

  7. Hi Michael,

    I’m one of those writers. I am actually really KNOWN for it, that I take massive notes. People comment on it, like, why do you do that? Some have even suggested that I should take fewer notes, just a few pages and should EXPERIENCE the experience more. Yeah. Right. So, what is going on is that the physical act of handwriting your notes is that you imprint it and the ideas more fully into your unconscious mind. When we are typing or texting the interaction with the brain is at the single text letter level. When we hand write it out, we imprint the words into our brain. Full Words. We can also do more things to imprint our brains like printing out block letters so it creates more of an image. Or Asterisks, Stars, Highlighting colors, underlining and arrows.

    The most successful people I know take massive notes. Then we house them in notebooks and review and add to them. I color code my 3 ring notebooks.

    This way also when I want to find something, I know where to go look for it and USE it. Using it is where we see the ROI of the seminar we attended and the time we invested in taking the notes. Ca-ching baby!

    April Braswell, MH
    Quit Smoking Hypnosis Huntington Beach

  8. Whatup, Michael!

    Fantastic post… and I love that Chinese proverb!

    Just today, I was DRIVING MYSELF CRAZY,
    diving toward the passenger-side floor of my car at every stop light.

    I was on my way back from dropping my son at school,
    I was having all kinds of insights and ideas,

    Word of advice folks – either keep lots of pens in the car,
    and/or tell your wife not to move them when she cleans out the car,
    and/or pull over when you need to look for a pen in the car!!!!!

    😀 😀

    great post.


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