People always say that the best way to remember something is to write it down. In college, I took this advice to heart. I would take copious notes during a lecture and then recopy them afterward. I always thought this was a pretty good strategy to commit the material to memory.

Research suggests a more effective strategy to boost recall. Instead of writing something down, draw it. As the lead author of the study explains:

We pitted drawing against a number of other known encoding strategies, but drawing always came out on top. We believe that the benefit arises because drawing helps to create a more cohesive memory trace that better integrates visual, motor, and semantic information.

Drawing the information outperformed writing it down, creating mental images of it and viewing pictures of it. Indeed, a simple sketch turns out to be an excellent memory enhancer.

Fret not if you are not Picasso. The good news is that the quality of the drawings doesn’t seem to matter much. Taking four seconds to draw a rough picture is enough to gain a “huge advantage” in memory.

Wish me luck drawing my “to do” list.