When there are a million things to accomplish throughout the day, what’s typically your first plan of action? Probably a to-do list, right? With apps like Evernote and innovative ideas like the bullet journal, managing day-to-day tasks is supposed to be easy, and sometimes it is. But other times you just cannot seem to remember what you’re supposed to be doing. If you want to really commit all those tasks to memory, there is a secret hack you should probably try.
According to research recently conducted at the University of Waterloo, drawing your to-do list is the best way to commit something to memory. In the study, participants were first asked to view a series of words that would be easy to draw. They were then given 40 seconds to draw or write that word. However, no matter which they chose, they had to be sure to actively use all the time allotted (i.e., those who were drawing had to keep adding detail while those who chose to write had to continuously rewrite the word). Afterward, the group was asked to recall as many words as they could. Those who drew their words were able to remember more than twice as those who wrote theirs.
Researchers also conducted this study on a larger scale at a lecture hall and saw the same results. They even tried again, this time adding in the option to instead list attributes of the word (for example, if the word was “coffee” they might write something like “caffeine, brown, hot”). Participants could also choose to focus on a mental image of the word or stare at a picture of the object. However, throughout each experiment, drawing the word was the most successful.
Why does this work so well? NY Mag says the success seen in the study was partially because it “required people to use a combination of the skills they used separately in the other tasks.” In order to draw something you have to take into account what it looks like, then actually think about how you were going to draw it and then use your motor skills to make that happen. It required a lot more brain work than quickly scribbling down a word, but the results seem well worth the extra effort. Your daily to-do list might not make it into any galleries in the near future, but it could very well be the secret to a super productive day.
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