What’s on your mind right now? Tomorrow’s deadlines? The article you just disagreed with? The TikTok video you just laughed at? Let’s be honest, it’s hard to fix one thought in our heads at a time. Every day our brains our overwhelmed by information, fired at us from friends and colleagues, apps and ads. If you tried to think about every single thing going on your life right now, you’d probably feel dizzy and need to lie down.
It’s a sensation I recently experienced whilst taking my Alt MBA, in which I had to deliver 13 projects in 4 weeks (alongside the day job). At first, it felt overwhelming. I felt the dread of imposter syndrome as I thought about what needed to be accomplished in the time I had. But then I remembered a basic act that can turn chaos into order. By the time I graduated, I was a pro at writing everything down.
Sounds simple, right? But it’s effective. When I write something down, I’m in control. I can eliminate distractions and focus on what’s most important. I sense make my thoughts. I create the patterns. I choose what matters. Suddenly the feeling of imposter syndrome turns into clarity. Suddenly everything seems possible.
It’s a discipline I’ve taken back to my work life. Now, when I have an ideas, I write it down. This can be as simple as jotting down thoughts as I read something, or as fleshed out as scoping meeting agendas to bring it all to life. It’s led to far more productive meetings and helps me focus on priorities more clearly.
So, here are my top tips for embracing the power of the written word.
1. Start with the context.
No idea exists in isolation, so make sure you flesh out the background. Why are you doing this? How’s it going to make a difference? What would success look like? This doesn’t just help you mentally process everything, it’s crucial to bringing your colleagues on the journey later down the line.
2. Don’t be your own filter.
Don’t stare at a blank page for 4-hours. And always resist the temptation to edit as you go. At this stage you just need to get your thoughts down. There’s no need to worry about grammar, or spelling, or whether any of it makes sense. Just write – in a stream of consciousness if you have to – and don’t stop until your brain is empty.
3. Now it’s time to edit, edit, edit.
Here’s where the magic happens. Look at what you’ve written. How could it be simpler? How could you make it more compelling? What’s the one key takeaway? If you had to present this to a colleague tomorrow, what format would it be in? This is when the fluff falls away and you’re left with the beautiful clarity of articulated thoughts.
4. Show it to someone!
By now, your idea should be clear and compelling (with plenty of context). Through the simple process of writing it down, you’ve streamlined your thinking and created something to be proud of. Now’s time show it off. Tell the story and take people on a journey. You’ve already done the legwork, so reap the benefits.
Want your brand to communicate more effectively this year? Whether it’s external messaging or internal comms, we have a proven track record of delivering complex ideas in compelling ways, so get in touch.