The Beauty of a Handwritten List

by Ron Haynes

When I was in college, I stumbled upon a study method that always resulted in an “A” when I used it. It centered around taking notes in class, then rewriting those notes. I found that the more I wrote, the better I could remember. Writing things down by hand allowed me to dictate my future.

picnic Some believe that writing a list trivializes and oversimplifies but in my case, a list made things come alive (it still does). Can you imagine going to the grocery store to purchase items for a new, complicated recipe without having a list? You’ll probably have to make at least one more trip, maybe two, to pick up items you forgot.

Lists are powerful self motivators. They outline what needs to be done and allow your mind to focus on implementation rather than on remembering what needs to be done. They allow you to focus on connecting with people rather than worrying about remembering your bullet points. It’s one thing to go to a business meeting with an idea of what you want to say, do, or accomplish, but it’s quite another to have an organized list.

But why do we resist such a simple idea? Why do we fail to apply this principle to our lives? Why do we spend less time planning our lives than we do planning a picnic? Probably because we know that if we forget the ketchup, we will be ridiculed by the kids! But isn’t your life as important as a picnic?

Make a list or two, and read it daily

  • List your goals and what you need to do to accomplish them
  • List your debts and how you’re going to beat them
  • List what you’d like to do before you die (your bucket list)
  • List your current friends to remind yourself of those close to you
  • List old friends you’d like to reconnect with and then reconnect with them
  • List books you’ve read and those you’d like to read

When you write a list you are writing history before it happens. You’re planning your future. Goals gain power when they’re written, and they get more powerful every time we write them down.

For me, nothing motivates like my own handwriting. People often look to what others have written for motivation, but I believe that living life by a list allows me to motivate myself by what I’ve written.

How about you? Do you use lists?

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 987 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.