This is a guest post written by Kent Sanders. If you would like to guest post, please feel free to contact me.
Kent Sanders is an author, creative coach, and professor. He is the author of The Artist’s Suitcase: 26 Essentials for the Creative Journey. Kent writes about creativity, the arts, and productivity at KentSanders.net. Be sure to check out his free 30-day Creative Kickstart course.
In my home office, I keep a medium-sized brown box on my shelf. This box contains hundreds of thank-you cards and personal notes I’ve received over the years. I’ve been keeping these notes for over twenty years, and they are some of my most prized possessions.
Why do I value these handwritten cards so much? Because they’re personal and rare. Think of how many handwritten notes you have received in the last two weeks, not counting wedding invitations, cards for holidays, or a birthday card. My guess would be that you have received three or less … and more than likely, zero.
Why is it so easy to avoid sending notes? It’s because of three myths that pervade our thinking. In this post, I want to share these myths and counteract them with a few thoughts that will help us get back to the business of writing notes and changing lives.
Myth #1: It’s not a good use of my time to send handwritten notes.
These days, we have a variety of ways to communicate: email, text, social media, Skype, phone, and so many others … using the same device! Why would anyone take the time to send a handwritten note when it’s so much faster and more convenient to use a digital form?
The answer is simple: handwritten notes make people feel special and significant. It lets people know that you took the time, effort, and expense to communicate in a form they can touch. There’s something special about the tactile nature of a handwritten note. For that reason, some of the most valuable moments of your day is when you take the time to write personal notes.
Myth #2: It’s too much of a hassle to send handwritten notes.
Make no mistake: it does take time and energy to send handwritten notes. First, you need a pen. That seems pretty basic, but there are times when it’s a struggle for me to find a working pen in our house. (Have you ever noticed we use fewer writing utensils today because we mainly use phones and computers to communicate)?
That’s why I recently bought this small box of BIC pens from Amazon (a dozen pens for $6.80 isn’t bad). These pens are cheap, small, and write smoothly. This is not a trivial matter: if you like how your pen feels, you’ll be more inclined to write notes. Side note: I use blue ink for handwritten notes because blue ink comes across as more personal than black ink.
Next, you need stationery and envelopes. I create my own stationery featuring my logo because I want to emphasize my personal brand. It’s not hard to make your own stationery—here’s a post where I detail exactly how to do this, including Amazon links for the paper and envelopes I use, as well as a template you can edit with your own logo.
Then, you’re going to need stamps. Every so often, I go to the local post office and buy about $20 worth of stamps. It’s a small extra expense but totally worth it in terms of the impact you have on people’s lives when you send personal notes. (Plus, you can deduct them as a business expense when appropriate.)
If getting the supplies together sounds like a major hassle, here’s the secret: do all the work up front and keep your supplies in the same place. To make it even more convenient, I also write notes once a week so I’m not constantly getting out supplies every day.
Finally, you’re going to need the person’s address. If I want to send someone a note, but I don’t have their address, I either look it up online or shoot them an email asking, “What is your mailing address? Got a little something I want to send you.” That way they’re anticipating something special in the mail, but you’ve indicated it’s something small.
Myth #3: My handwriting is too bad to send handwritten notes.
In today’s culture of digital communication, this can be a legitimate concern, especially if your handwriting wasn’t great, to begin with. Mine certainly isn’t. In fact, I got a “D” in grade school handwriting.
However, there is a simple trick that makes all the difference when writing notes: take your time. I’m always on the go and tend to approach handwriting that way also. But when I’m writing notes, I have force myself to slow down and write carefully or it won’t be legible. This is all the more important because I don’t do that much handwriting on any given day.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you have good penmanship or not. What matters is that it’s your handwriting. When someone receives a note from you, the only thing they care about is the fact that you took the time to send a note. Your goal isn’t to win a handwriting award—it’s to impact someone with a personal note.
In summary: Don’t believe these myths that so often keep us from changing lives through simple handwritten notes. Keep in mind that it’s never about the note; the note is just a medium for your thoughts. But it’s a medium that will communicate how much you appreciate the person receiving it.