How Writing Things Down Helps Me Survive and Thrive

How Writing Things Down Helps Me Survive and Thrive

Author Headshot - Katrina Hoover Lee
Katrina Hoover Lee
April 24, 2020

Did I once have the ability to keep track of everything in my head? How would I know? I didn’t write it down!

Here are a few of the many things I write down in an average week, ranging from trivial to enduring.

1. Things to Buy

I live in a neighborhood with people who often lack food. As I sat down to write this article, a neighbor arrived requesting food and Tylenol.  After supplying her with a frozen pizza and a few tablets of Tylenol, I added both items to my online grocery list. My mind is not reliable enough to assume that I will remember I need these things the next time I order groceries.

2. Memories

Beyond groceries, I know that I will never remember the day to day happenings of my life without assistance. I do not keep an extensive journal or diary, but I do use a one-sentence journal that lasts for five years.  The Ultimate Weekly Planner works too, to record a summary sentence of the events of each day.

3. Notes

On a research trail, notes are extremely important. Even if I am recording audio or video, there is nothing like a pen and a piece of paper. How else will I remember the sickly smell of marijuana, unwashed bodies and cats in an old house? Not even video captures that.

4. To Do Lists

As I think of what needs to be done next, I jot down lists in either of my two Ultimate Weekly Planners. I have a business one and a personal one. The personal one has entries like “Walmart order” or “give plasma.” The business one has lists of things I need to read or write or order.  I would panic if I lost either one.

5. Health Information

As a nurse, I’m used to taking notes on my patient’s conditions and vital signs. However, in the era of telehealth, each person should advocate for their own health. With a virus on the loose, everyone does well to know their normal temperature.  Many people check their blood pressure in their own home.  This kind of information is most helpful when written down and evaluated over time.

6. Difficult Conversations

Writing down what we feel we should say to someone in a difficult conversation can be a lifesaver. You might not even stick to your script. But having had a script to begin with might make all the difference.

7. Prayers

As in conversation with people, writing down prayers helps, especially if we are struggling to know how to talk to God.  Words on paper often have more power than words thought in our heads.

I think the digital world has managed to pry us away from pen and paper, to our own detriment.  I have a phone, a computer, and a work tablet, each with dozens of apps and hundreds of files. I have only two planners, and I count on these two to contain everything essential to my daily plans.

Katrina will be writing more articles for Ultimate Weekly Planner in the coming weeks but she also writes regularly on her own website. Subscribe to Katrina’s blog at

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