Lesson of the Day.
Last autumn I started a new habit that I’ve found really helpful. I started writing down a ‘Lesson of the day’ every day. It takes me about 30 seconds to do, but it has been life-changing. Suddenly I was capturing and retaining a lot of good things that before I was forgetting. Most of us will learn lots new things each day, even without realising it, and even if we’re not intentionally setting out to learn. There’s obvious learning like at school, university, or courses in the workplace, but there’s also the articles we read, the podcasts we listen to, the people we speak with and a thousand different experiences that just come our way. We’re all learning all the time – but are we remembering?
Truth to tell I forget most of what I learn each day because I’m too busy to process it properly. I’ve read that it takes our brains something like 17 minutes to fully process even a short 1-minute phone-call, and in those 17 minutes there will have been dozens of other stimuli which also need processing. Add this up over the course of a day and we’re taking in far more information than we can really use or know what to do with. We’re constantly playing catch-up, all the time distracted by new things. Simply put, we’re too busy and the world is too noisy for us to remember most of what we learn.
But a simple habit can start to change that. Just write down one thing you’ve learned that day. It can be anything – a tip, a life hack, a philosophical statement, a Bible verse, an observation or anything at all. Just write it down. The very act of remembering it brings it back to front of mind, and then writing it down helps commit it to memory. It’s basically just micro-journalling, but so low-input that even the busiest of us can do it. Try it – I guarantee you’ll start remembering more of the lessons you’ve learned.
I’ve been doing this for five months now, so I’ve written down over 150 lessons. I don’t remember all of them now, of course, but I remember dozens more of them than I would have otherwise. If I’d not written any of them down, I would have forgotten most of them by now, lost in a sea of noise, distraction and mental diversion.
I now go one step further, and organise these lessons. Every month I look back on the lessons of that month and group them by topic or theme. Trends start to emerge, one lesson backs up another, or balances out one perspective with another to give me a truer understanding of things. I then highlight lessons which especially resonate with me after some time of reflection. These are the real gems, the stand-out messages that I want to retain and live by. It’s just another layer of retention.
All this, from thinking about it in the first place, writing it down, organising them and reflecting on the key lessons, helps me to grow. It makes me more mindful. It encourages focus and stops me mindlessly rushing from one activity to another and from one day to another. It helps me start to impose some sort of narrative on what’s happening in my life. It lends new insights on how I’m developing as a person and where I still need to make progress. It’s an amazing personal growth tool.
It’s a wonderful way of capitalising on all the good things I hear, see, read or experience. It prevents things going to waste. And it helps me remember what God is saying to me – through whatever media. The beauty is it’s so simple. Granted, it might come easier to introverts, reflective types or people with a penchant for journalling, but really it’s so easy and quick that anyone can do it. Doesn’t matter if it’s a sentence, a paragraph or a page; penned on paper or dictated digitially, just find a way to capture it.
Don’t you wish you could remember and hold on to all the things you learn? Just start writing down one lesson each day. It could change your life.