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Writing to Remember: Clear Your Head & Improve Thinking

Pause. Take out a pen. Pull out a piece of paper (or a post-it note). Write down an idea, goal or thought.

Photo by narloch-liberra/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by narloch-liberra/iStock / Getty Images

How did that make you feel?

Capturing your thoughts on a physical piece of paper is proven to have beneficial effects on your mental health. This is because you use more of your brain while writing things down on paper rather than typing them out. But sometimes this whole pen and paper philosophy feels outdated. Typing or copy/pasting is much faster and saves time.

But think of it this way, like any great, juicy steak, your ideas need time to marinate, and writing things down can be a big help. It slows you down, stills your thoughts and leads to better, meatier ideas.

Why is this? The action of jotting things down requires correspondence from both your left brain and right brain. They must work together to complete the action. Writing also sparks creative thought and sharpens your mind – no matter if you use a dull utensil or not (but a good writing tool does ease the process).

In addition to the many memory and creative benefits, writing thoughts or ideas down on paper may also help overcome writer’s block by setting you on the path to clearer thinking.

Are you a list maker? Writing lists makes it easier to recall information and details. In fact, starting your day by taking 20 minutes to write your plans on paper can help improve productivity — and if you’re reading this blog you’re probably a pretty productive person already.

So the next time you’re designing a masterpiece, writing an intelligent article or organizing your schedule, pull out a pen and a piece of paper, and let your thoughts transfer to ink.

Small but Mighty: The 8FD approach to Progress


noun prog·ress \ˈprä-grəs, -ˌgres
1 : movement forward or toward a place
2 : the process of improving or developing something over a period of time
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Although so easily defined by Merriam-Webster, progress can be tough. The concept often emerges into a tangled mess of not knowing where to start and not planning where to go. We harbor the victorious feeling from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or breaking the ribbon at the finish line but too soon forget the tunnel’s dark path and the race’s endurance. Our eyes become fixed on the prize, we don’t prioritize the small steps, and too often we end up in the dark. Achieving gold is great, but unfortunately, rare.   

Researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer published an article in the Harvard Business Review addressing their study of psychological experiences in relation to people’s complex work performance inside organizations.

Over the course of four months, Amabile and Kramer had members of various project teams respond individually to an email survey at the end of every workday. The projects ranged from inventing kitchen gadgets to solving complex, hotel empire IT problems. One of the survey questions addressed what work they accomplished that day (aka their progress) and their emotions and motivation levels as a result. 

Guess what?

Participants reported only minor progress in several areas, but the cool part is the majority of people still evoked positive reactions. One particular entry from an IT programmer proved the satisfaction of a small step, “I figured out why something was not working correctly. I felt relieved and happy because this was a minor milestone for me.”

The Key is Progress

8FD works as a progress report. It focuses on those often unnoticed events that are critical for the success of the goal. In our previous blog post, Joe Huber mentioned 8FD works as his reference point that keeps the ball moving. The majority of your energy will go towards keeping that ball moving (aka the progress of your goal). Let's envision running a marathon. 

Goal = Run a Marathon 

Approximate time running marathon: 4-6 hours 

Progress = Daily training for a Marathon 

Approximate time training for a marathon: 50-100 hours

Time spent running the marathon didn't even touch 10 percent of the time spent training. Invest in your progress. Use your notebook as a daily habit for the small steps. Don’t add “Pay off school loans” to your list the day after you graduate college. Be realistic. Take your long term goals and hone in your 8FD tasks on the details of those goals. So if a long term goal is paying off your loans, start at the beginning of the black tunnel. An 8FD goal may sound more like “Call loan officer to set up payment plan”. This task is easily attainable and will kickstart the debt-free journey.

See how you can apply the power of small changes in this Entrepreneur.com article

How you do 8FD: Joe Hubers

When the majority of your day is spent in front of a screen, a simple notepad and pen can be refreshing. 

I really enjoy the simplicity of 8FD. I also like the fact that it isn't digital ... I enjoy physically checking things off.  As 95 percent of my work time is on a computer, having to engage with a paper product seems to make it all the more effective as I have to "unplug" from the computer to interact with 8FD.  - Joe Hubers

Joe Hubers   Photo Credit: Walter Portz of Studio Blu

Joe Hubers

Photo Credit: Walter Portz of Studio Blu

Owner of Passenger Productions, Joe Hubers and his team have a passion for creating documentary and narrative films for non-profit organizations and leading businesses. His latest film, Of Minor Prophets, premiered on June 13th. 

Joe's a super busy guy, yet he still gets things done. Joe has tailored the 8FD concept into his lifestyle for just over four months now, so we decided to catch up with him and find out if his 8FD was under a pile of "I tried this for a week and never touched it again" attempts or if 8FD had made an affect on his daily routine. 

What made you try 8FD?

I was having a hard time narrowing down a larger long term to-do list into something focused. 

How long have you been doing 8FD?

I started using it in late February of this year. 

How has 8FD impacted your productivity?

It has greatly ...  it gives me a tangible reference point that keeps the ball moving without getting overwhelmed with the larger long term goals. Thus, I'm more focused and ultimately less stressed. I also enjoy the space for personal goals/tasks ... it's helped bring a more balanced approach to my work day.  

Time of day you complete 8FD (Morning, Evening..)

I typically fill out 8FD the night before ... I'm able to wrap up the schedule by mid to later afternoon. 

What's the best part about getting things done? 

My stress level is better managed in regards to getting projects done. Additionally executing projects means quicker realization of my larger goals with the company.


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Joe. We hope 8FD helps smooth the road for your next big film. 

How you do 8FD: Dan Menke

Our noses are itching.

We might attribute this to the cold, dry Sioux Falls weather, but we’d rather stick with the superstition that someone is talking about us.  

                                                                                                  Image Credit: Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

                                                                                                  Image Credit: Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

“I’ve been doing this for a few years and it’s really helped me stay on top of everything.”  Dan Menke

This month’s Sioux Falls Chamber News Magazine dips into A Day in the Life of Dan Menke. Dan has earned a spot under Young Professionals Benefit the Community and works as a controller for Pride Neon of Sioux Falls. Dan began his 8FD habit years ago as a reader of Point Letter. When we released our first beta run of 8FD notebooks, Dan was one of the first people to sign up.  Creating his 8FD has become a staple in Dan’s morning routine and falls just behind his second cup of coffee.  Read the article here.

It’s been almost five months of receiving, packaging, addressing and shipping orders of our 8FD notebooks and we are excited to hear 8FD has been a positive addition to people’s productivity.  We want to hear from you! How do you incorporate 8FD into your daily routine?

Also, big props to Dan for his 236th entry in 8FD. What’s your 8FD number? Tweet us with the hashtag #8FD.