The Best Way To Boost Your Memory Is Already In Your Hand

Behold the power of writing.
Christina Reichl Photography via Getty Images

Want to sharpen that noggin? Pick up a pen.

Chances are you still scribble down a few notes each day. And extending that practice into longer, physical writing may sharpen your memory exponentially.

Studies have found that students who wrote their class notes outperformed students who typed them. Notetakers were better able to retain information and grasp new concepts because writing put them on a different plane of thinking and required more mental effort than typing, according to psychologists. Devices just didn't cut it.

"The very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing -- the ability to take notes more quickly -- was what undermined learning," educational psychologist Kenneth Kiewra told the Wall Street Journal.

Getting away from a digital dependence -- for anything -- is a challenge in this tech-saturated culture. Even if jotting down an item is something you do on a regular basis, employing the art of handwriting for anything other than a reminder on a sticky note may seem outdated and obsolete.

However, in addition to boosting your memory, there are other positive perks to spending a little extra time with a writing utensil. Research shows writing down your worries and physically throwing them away can clear your mind. Putting pen to paper in the form of expressive writing may also be linked to improved stress levels.

Ready to integrate more physical scribbles into your life? Here are a few ways to do it (and a few more scientific reasons why you should want to):

1. Doodle.

Show this to your boss the next time it appears like you're slacking off. Research suggests that giving your pen free reign to paper during a meeting can -- surprise! -- help you pay attention.

2. Write your to-do list.

Keeping track of your tasks on actual paper can now come with an added memory benefit: Instead of relying on your Gchat task list or the notes and reminders on your smartphone, try scribbling your to-do list. Bonus: You'll also reap the perks of a little unplugging.

3. Journal.

If you haven't jumped on journaling yet, here's your excuse. Incorporate more writing in your life by putting down three things you're thankful for each day. Studies show that gratitude can boost positive emotions and make you more optimistic.

4. Physically map out your schedule.

Yet again, enjoy the perks of a little tech-free time by using a physical schedule. You'll enjoy the benefits of writing (and remembering better!) when your events are taking place, and you never have to worry about a dead battery with a planner.

5. Write a thank you note.

The next time someone does something extraordinary for you -- or even if you just want to thank them for their support -- put your appreciation in writing. Not only will your kindness make them happier, it will boost your own joy levels as well.

Sorry, keyboards. Sometimes old school is still the best way to go.

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Before You Go

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