Tuesday, January 3, 2017

On Writing Things Down

This is not a post about New Year's Resolutions.

2016 has been a crazy year. A kuh-razy year. If I were a cowboy, 2016 would be the horse I was holding onto for dear life as the saddle slid down around its belly. I started out enjoying the ride but by the end I was just trying my hardest not to get trampled.

I don't know if I'd even fully articulated this thought to myself, or really voiced it in a prayer, but at the back of my mind I knew something needed to change.

I needed to right the saddle and get back on top of my life, so to speak.

At church over the past year, I've occasionally felt this little nudge to do this or that. To explore a piece of my faith a little more. To work on being still and feeling peace. To be patient with myself and with the Lord's timing.

At church a few weeks ago I felt another little nudge: write it down.

When I got a feeling that I should try writing things down to organize my life, here's what happened.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Ever since I was a kid I've loved to write things down. I have memories of staring at a blank sheet of paper and feeling this need to fill it up with something.

Even though I'm an adult with a smartphone now, I still feel the need all the time to write things out, physically, on a piece of paper in front of me. Sending myself a text does not count.

When I'm overwhelmed, I grab a piece of paper. When I need to brainstorm, I grab a piece of paper. When something unspecified is bothering me and I need to identify the problem, I grab a piece of paper. I don't know exactly what it is or if there are other people out there like me, but I was built with a direct connection from my dominant hand to my brain.

So duh. Writing as a way to reclaim my life should've been obvious to me, but it wasn't.

I guess that's why I'm asking God for advice instead of the other way around. He prompted me to remember that hardwired hand-to-brain connection I have and use it to write down the spiritual experiences I have and make room for the things that matter most.

When I got home from church that day, I chose a notebook.

When I got a feeling that I should try writing things down to organize my life, here's what happened.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

This thing is literally 3" by 4".

It occurs to me now that I may have subconsciously chosen the world's tiniest notebook on purpose. My life has been so filled to overflowing that I couldn't imagine squeezing in one more thing, but I was willing to try. I can't take a big blank page in front of me with the responsibility to fill it up right now, but I can handle 3" by 4".

So I basically do three things in my little notebook:
  1. I jot down a few notes on what I'm reading, and I try to read every day. Whether it's Deuteronomy or a General Conference talk, I at least mark down a few of my thoughts about it.
  2. I write down spiritual feelings or answers to prayers. Especially when I'm prompted to do something or pray for somebody.
  3. I gave myself four numbered priorities (God, myself, Phillip, and the kids) and assigned an action to each priority that I can do every day. At the end of each day, I write down how I did on each of those 4 things.
It's been almost three weeks, writing in my little notebook every night for a few minutes before I go to bed. I think it's helping. It keeps me centered and focused. It helps me be accountable for how I'm spending my time and what I'm doing. I even dare say I'm happier.

Maybe at some point I'll feel on top of things enough that I don't need to write a few lines down every day to keep me grounded.

Or maybe I'll just graduate to a bigger notebook.

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Ann-Marie Ulczynski said...

I am exactly the same way. I must write things down. Pen and paper. All the time. I have an entire shelf of a bookshelf filled with journals. It's so clarifying for my brain to write it all out.

AnneMarie said...

I am the exact same way with writing things down! Blogging helps me process, but the good ol' pen and paper is where it's at. My bullet journal has been one of the best things ever for helping me chart a course each day. I really like your 4 things list-I may have to add that in my daily plan!
Though I have to confess, while I used to write in my prayer journal several times a week (pre-baby), now I only do so about once a month-so thank you for this reminder! I'm going to make time to pray with my journal open.

Rachel said...

I have the same brain connection to writing things down--I use a planner, but probably less than half of what I write in my planner is pre-scheduled events. I write ideas, lists of things I want to remember, funny things someone said to me, a Bible verse that is applicable to the day...who knows. My planner gets really full!

Jenny Evans said...

I've also started keeping a written prayer list, which I've never done it before. It really helps me to remember all the things and people I want to pray for!

The Lady Okie said...

I think this is great. I still write in a journal and have forever basically. The one I'm on right now goes back to January 2014! I don't write in it every night, but I love having a place other than the blog to write down things I'm thinking and feeling.

The Lady Okie said...

Yes I keep a written prayer list too and I often physically write out my prayers, mostly because otherwise sometimes I get distracted while praying and/or fall asleep. ha!

Crystal Green from Sharing Life's Moments said...

My husband started me on the whole writing down things concept when I was about 13 years old. He handed me a five subject notebook and told me to write down my thoughts in it. He'd read it and then we could talk about what all I wrote down. To this day, my husband still knows more about me than anyone else ever will as a result of me filling up MANY notebooks front and back through the years. Of course, that's also why I love blogging and writing snail mail letters weekly.

You're definitely NOT alone. Writing is very therapeutic. I love how blogging helps me to connect with like-minded people. I'm glad to hear that it's helping you to be more happy.

Jenny Evans said...

I figured if there were other people like me, they would probably be bloggers.

Jenny Evans said...

The falling asleep is usually a function of it being WAY past a normal person's bedtime... which is one of my 4 goals so things are going better all around!

Unknown said...

I must have been subconsciously thinking of you early this morning when I gave a character the last name "Evans." Then I got your comment on my blog and though to come here to see what you've been up to.

I greatly appreciate this post. Like my children used to regard the "lovies" they brought with them, I, too, have toted a notebook around from time to time to be more physically connected to my written thoughts. Some time ago, I forgot to bring it along one day and that one day turned into a week, a month. . . .

Thanks for the example and reminder on how this little act can yield great things.

All the best in 2017 for you and you family.

Moderate Mum said...

Four priorities is so perfect! I always see the biggest shifts when I focus x

Jenny Evans said...

Seeing as how I just read about how you have 4 on your blog, it seems that it IS the magic number.

Sharon said...

oh boy your wee book is going to be filled with gold! plus don't discount all the 'writing down' you do here! you got the gift!

Queen Mom Jen said...

I used to be so good at writing things down, but then... I need to do better, because I think a lot of clarity can come that way. Thanks for sharing how you will be doing it. Hugs and happy new year!

AiringMyLaundry said...

I need to start writing things down. I forget things SO easily.

Happy New Year!

PurpleSlob said...

I usually have a spiral bound notebook, one of those 1 subject 70 pg jobbies, always to hand. Something about writing things down physically! Except I use a purple ink pen, instead of pencil! At the end of last year, I started writing prayer requests on index cards. Then, when God answers that one, I date it, and put it away. I have to have some kind of reminder about who to pray for!
Love the 4 priorities!!

Jenny Evans (sister, not author) said...

I've had very similar thoughts recently, but I rarely carry a purse or bag so I've been going the smart phone app route. Maybe I should change that. I just love reading your blog, you are so articualte and I relate to so much of what you write. Sure wish I lived closer and could see you more often. The family reunion was so chaotic that I didn't feel like I got to personally connect with everyone like I hoped. I need to come out and visit you guys again soon!

Jenny Evans said...

I like the index card idea. I think it's good to not only have a reminder of who to pray for, but reminders of the prayers that have been answered in the past.

Jenny Evans said...

We would love that!

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

Good for you! I hope it helps! I enjoy writing things down as well as making lists. Weird. But your not alone!