Poor Handwriting is Better Than a Good Memory


I say this over and over (and over). I’ll write it again here. Poor handwriting is better than a good memory.

I don’t ever remember where I first heard this. (maybe because I didn’t write it down then?) But I knew it was true. How many times have you walked from one room to the next, with a clear idea of what you were doing, only to cross the threshold and have NO CLUE about what you were doing. If you’re like many people, it’s happened too frequently.

There is actually some research suggesting something called the “doorway effect”. Psychologists believe that we remember more when we’re in the same physical context of where the event takes place. Meaning, when we walk through a doorway, it increases the likelihood we will forget what we’re doing, or where we’re going. You can read more about this (fascinating) subject here.

So, back to my quote. (yes, you can quote me on this.)

I used to work with a woman who was our IT manager. Yes, she had a lot going on, with requests coming from many directions. When she was walking around the warehouse, or our offices, I remember she would take an ink pen, and write notes on her hand and forearm, to remind her what she needed to do when she got back to her desk. I remember asking her once why didn’t she just carry a notepad with her when she made her rounds. She said she couldn’t trust herself to not set it down and forget where she set it. (Looking back, I realize she had some other organizational issues that are a topic for another blog.)

For this un-named IT manager, her poor handwriting WAS better than a good memory.

Think about the last time you went to the grocery store without a list, because you KNEW you would remember 4 things. Did you come home with 4 things? Maybe. But maybe not the 4 things you went to the store for. Dang…if there was just a way in this day and age to WRITE THINGS DOWN. Folks, we have it. It’s called paper and pen.

OK, OK. I know you want to be a bit more techy. So go ahead and use your smart phone. I use the “notes” app on my iPhone to write my grocery list. Very seldom am I too far from paper and pen or my phone. I know I’m going to pass through too many doorways between my thoughts and actions, and I need to have a written reminder of what I’m doing.

This post may seem so simple and elementary. You’re right, it is. But, we still go to the grocery store, or run errands, and forget things. Because we don’t write them down.

I want to plant the seed with you that there is more power in actual handwriting than typing on your computer, smartphone or other electronic device. (more on this in a future post.) There are tons of studies that support this theory. In the meantime, treat yourself to a nice pen and a new notebook. Looking for a simple planner? Check out the monaplanner here. I created this tool because I know poor handwriting is better than a good memory.