Even the most solid ideas are fleeting.

Riding the light rail home and BOOM, a brilliant idea hits you. Maybe it’s a solid topic for a blog post, or something bigger like a potential business plan. Either way, our brains like to trick us into thinking we remember all of the important things that cross our mind that day, as if the more juicy the idea the more likely we are to autonomously store it. We’re calling bullshit.

The human brain is an extraordinary tool, working overtime everyday to keep us functional and efficient. But when it comes to immediate thought storage for later recall, the brain is more like a leaky bucket…holding the important stuff but letting “unnecessary” items go. Luckily for us humans, we’ve created a ridiculous amount of tools, apps and resources to keep it all in line. Starting with the basic tools of memory retention, we’re going to unload all of our tips for keeping those golden thoughts right where they belong, with you.

The Basics: Pen + Paper

Sliced bread is great but you can’t record a million dollar idea on it. Grab a cute notebook or a yellow legal pad of paper and keep that thing with you at all times. Although this may seem obvious, there’s actual science behind the benefits of handwritten notes. From fewer digital distractions, to length of attention on the words being typed, all the way to brain chemistry, the pen pros outweigh the computer cons.

Digital Failures + Threats

Taking notes on your iPhone is a good step towards the right direction, but what happens when you drop it in a puddle? Or perish the thought your laptop has a hard drive failure and all of your collected ideas were included in the lost data? Obviously we take a ton of digital notes being a brand of the web, but when it comes to raw, uncut ideas, keeping them tangible is much safer. As much as we’d like to believe it is….wifi is not always available and you don’t want that extra data charge.

Clear Your Headspace

Taking notes can be quite therapeutic. Like with the “leaky bucket brain” metaphor mentioned earlier, taking the time to dump mental content can not only keep thoughts organized but it helps you maintain their full form while writing longhand. Instead of briefly typed notes, you can take the time to really unravel what’s on your mind. In addition to clarity of thoughts, getting rid of some data certainly helps with mental productivity and alleviation of stress. Make space for some higher-level thinking and strengthened self-soothing skills.

Milestone Acknowledgement

Sometimes it can be difficult to set scalable goals for ourselves, personally and professionally. By keeping a written journal of these efforts and achievements you can finally give yourself a pat on the back. A collection of longhand notes can provide a sense of progress and open up your mind to new potential journeys. Once that journey is realized and achieved, you can go ahead and cross it off your list…we all know how satisfying THAT is.

While we don’t suggest taking notes on your hands or arms (the ink will smudge duh), taking longhand notes can be highly influential in terms of mental productivity. Take this week to try something from this list and let us know how it goes! It only takes a few days to reap the benefits of keeping all your thoughts in order and accessible. Grab your favorite pen and keep it in your pocket, it’s writing time.