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Write It Down!

A futuristic, sci-fi idea that sometimes gets tossed around is putting chips in our brains. Maybe with electronic implants, humans will one day be able to augment our brains, enhancing our ability to perform feats of memory and computation.

That would certainly help with ADHD. A little chip to boost the memory, a chip for effortless focus, and we’re good to go.

In a way, though, we’re already living in that reality. We have possibly the most powerful invention in the history of human civilization to work with: pencil and paper.

Pencil and PaperPencil and paper allows us to extend the capabilities of our brains and do things we would otherwise struggle with.

If you’ve ever made a grocery list, you know all about the memory-enhancing powers of pen and paper. Maybe you keep a to-do list that lets you organize the different tasks you have to do and parcel out your time in a way you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Reminder notes are another way they pencil and paper allow us to augment our mental powers. The point here is to write down something you’re in danger of forgetting to do and put it in a place you’ll see it. Tend to lock yourself out? Put a sign on your door to make sure you’ve got your keys. Have a task you think you’ll forget to do before you go to bed? Make a note reminding you of that task and put it on your bed.

These are relatively practical, convenient ways that pencil and paper are like an extension of our brains, but there’s a more open-ended way writing stuff down can help: keeping a journal is useful for organizing thoughts and processing emotions. By articulating our thoughts and working through them on paper, we can engage with them in a more thorough way than we otherwise might. Writing it down can be useful not just for remembering things and staying organized, but for emotional regulation as well!

With ADHD, there’s a good chance you sometimes find yourself thinking “I wish my brain could do such-and-such.” But if you use pencil and paper as an extension of your brain, maybe it can!

Image: Flickr/Bruce Guenter

Write It Down!

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Write It Down!. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Jun 2019
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