A month ago, I wrote an article on the power of the hand-written note. The emails, phone calls, and conversations I have received as a result of writing that article have been many (even a few hand-written notes in return!). And the stories that I have received about people both writing and receiving hand-written notes have been especially beautiful. I have heard about relationships that have been restored or rekindled, gratitude that has been given and received, increased sales that have occurred, and yes, even suicides that have been prevented — all because of someone taking the time to sit down and spend a few minutes writing a note and connecting in a meaningful way with another human being. I give a huge thumbs up to all that activity.
I have also received many questions around the actual mechanics of how and when to turn the concept of hand-written notes into a practice that becomes a new habit. If you’ve been reading The WireBoard for any length of time, you are well aware that we at Rewire do not want to give you ideas that just sound good in theory, but are not able to be acted on. We have observed too many instances where good ideas turn into the best of intentions and then (due to the urgencies of time, jobs, the kids, and well… life) those best intentions fall prey to the Law of Diminishing Intent.
Psychology and neuroscience say that if you are currently not writing hand-written notes and you would like to start the habit of doing so, it will be a bit difficult in the beginning since starting new habits can be hard, which you can read about HERE and HERE. To help you fight through that challenge, I’ve written out the eight steps that I use to ensure that I write five hand-written notes per week. Paolo, our Business Development Lead, and I use these steps on a weekly basis. Feel free to use and adapt them as you start your new habit of note writing.
8 Steps for starting a hand-written note habit:
- Step 1 - Make the decision that taking up the lost art of the hand-written note is for you - nothing in life happens without you first making a decision.
- Step 2 - Purchase a bulk order of note cards. 100 cards can be purchased pretty cheap online. And don’t get too caught up on what kind of card to purchase in bulk as your note-writing habit is a journey and will evolve over time. I have bought variety packs in bulk of thank you, sympathy, congratulations, and thinking of you cards, but I have now settled in on one card for all occasions for the purpose of simplicity.
- Step 3 - Purchase real stamps and take a few minutes to place stamps on 100 of the envelopes so they are ready to go. Any impediment (no matter how small it may seem) can and does inhibit actual execution of a habit, and the purpose of this step is to help take away even the smallest of obstacles to your success.
- Step 4 - On Monday, place five cards and five envelopes on the corner of your desk as a reminder of your commitment to note writing. You’ve heard that "out of sight equals out of mind." This step ensures that your task is in sight and in your mind, so that all you need to do is reach out your hand and grab a note to write – as opposed to all the other mechanics of finding/purchasing note cards, stamps, etc and then remembering where you put the darn stamps and then…. See what I’m saying?
- Step 5 - Keep your ears and eyes open during the week for reasons to write notes and people to write them to.
- Step 6 - Grab a ready-to-go note card and write the note. Don’t over-think this step. It is NOT important to write exactly the correct thing in exactly the perfect way. You really cannot mess this step up. As long as you are writing with a spirit of abundance, positivity, and gratefulness, whatever you write to the recipient will be well received.
- Step 7 - Drop that little gift into the mailbox and you’re done! I included this step because as crazy as it might sound, I have forgotten this step and have heard from others that they have done the same.
- Step 8 - Continue steps 1-7 until all five cards are off of your desk, then start over Monday of the following week.
Eight steps may sound like a lot at first, but I wanted to break this down into the most minute details so you can easily get going on this new habit. After a month or so of successfully writing five notes per week (along with the inevitable positive feedback you will receive on the notes that you written), the above steps will become second nature.
Drop me a line in the comments section and let me know how your note-writing experience is going. There is a good chance that a Rewire book will be written on the power of the hand-written note and I would love to be able to include your story in that book.