Years ago, I went to visit my brother at his place in Queens. I remember sneaking a peek into his home office. As a reminder to himself, he’d stuck a label on his computer monitor with four words, in all caps: WRITE IT DOWN, STUPID!!!
This is pretty much my own mantra as well. Any time I have an important task that needs to be addressed, I’ll do one of two things: either 1) do it right away, or 2) make a note to take care of it later. I know myself well-enough that if I don’t do either, the task will either not get done or an important deadline or opportunity will be missed.
There is a reason why technical communication is such a passion of mine. I’ve seen countless examples in the professional world where things are not documented. I’ve heard a variety of excuses of why they’re not documented: “Oh it’s not that difficult to remember.” “It’s intuitively obvious.” “It cannot be missed.” “I won’t forget that one.” “I don’t have to bother with it now. I’ll get to it later.” And so on. And so on. And so on.
It’s not just professional communication, either. When was the last time that you came up with a great idea that could change the world? Did you write it down? If you didn’t, do you even remember what it was?
I’ve long been a believer that open and honest communication is a game-changer. Indeed, I’ve often told people that “90% of the world’s problems can be solved through communication.” (Before you ask, no, I don’t have any hard evidence or statistics to back that up, but it is something I believe.)
Writing things down is a core part of communication. When you write things down, you aren’t just communicating with other people; you’re communicating with yourself — your future self — as well.