When I was young, my father used to constantly remind me to write things down. He insisted I should note down every important point in a rough notebook. I used to loathe this nagging habit of his. I couldn’t see why I need to write down when I could easily remember stuff in my head. However, looking back I think things were simpler then. The textbooks were sufficient and regular exams ensured we stay on track in school.
As I entered high school, things changed. The level of studies got higher in terms of diversity and difficulty. I could no longer read a single notebook and give exams. I was supposed to go through reference books and give my opinion on things. As I entered college, the standard got even higher. Now major portion of my studies involve going through reference material deeply and squeeze out important information. The assignments are more interactive and allow me to think freely, giving my point of view instead of adopting the bookish view.
Still, I didn’t follow my father’s advice. I continued my habit of reading and trying to remember everything. As exams approached, I discovered I don’t remember half of the stuff. I panicked. I was so confident I knew it all, I didn’t make notes. I could remember only in parts and it got me confused and frustrated.
Now I was wishing I should have noted things down. There I was, sitting in the examination hall and getting all confused. Somehow all the information in my head mingled into each other in a way I couldn’t sort it out. I was very upset with myself.
Why writing helps?
The thing is, as a human being we have the tendency to overestimate our strengths. I am good at remembering stuff but I could not recall them in the exam. I realized how important writing is. When we write things down, we are completely engaged in the material. We try to concentrate our knowledge and try to write in easy and simple words. We frame a structure in our mind of what the facts are and how they relate to each other. It is like painting a picture in the brain.
Writing things down prompts you to think straight. Anything you write, you tend to analyze. Subconsciously, we try to make sense of things and when we see written information, we try to relate and verify it with already familiar things. In this process, we make new neuronal connections. In other words, we create long term memory.
Therfore, today’s tip is to write things down. Even if you are not going to look again, even if it is a rough scrambling on paper. Put things in writing. You WILL remember better.