Planners Should Write More

If you think for a living, you should write more.

For obvious reasons, like to share your wisdom. And build your street cred.

Even if you don’t have wisdom or hate the phrase ‘personal brand’, you should spend more time writing things down. Capturing thinking, yours or someone else’s, publicly or private, forces you to process it. For me it also takes it out of my head to make room for something else.

Thoughts, ideas, frameworks, tools, quotes, presentation material – anything worth remembering. Or stealing.

Last year I started freelancing and got organised. Here’s how I capture thinking by writing it down:

Moleskin Notebook
In the past I’d capture all notes in a Moleskin. To Do lists, client data, doodles. But these are almost always disposable. Now I write everything on a white A4 piece of paper, folded in half. At the end of each week I throw it away.

The good stuff, I transfer into a single notebook, the front page you can see above. Doug Kleeman calls it writing your own textbook. It’s for the timeless stuff – lessons on how advertising works or how to be a better problem solver. Things you might refer to in five years.

Strategy Library
I have a folder on my MacBook that houses every good report, framework, paper or case study I read. It includes pieces of work from other people/agencies, even well designed decks for inspiration. All of which is carefully filed, building up over nearly a decade in advertising.

Strategy Cellar
It’s an online version of the Library, kind of like my personalised version of Julian Cole’s Planning Dirty Cheatsheet. It’s a toolkit, with resources and tools I refer to. A Google Sheet works nicely.

This Blog
Of course, there’s this blog. Even if no one reads it, it’s where I can distill and build on thoughts. And identify themes in my own thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done presentations only to later realise they’re repackaged blog posts. You might argue Twitter plays this role for micro thoughts too.


Where do you write things down?


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