I love checking the mailbox. I’ve had pen pals since I was seven years old — and it’s one of the ways Alex and I first met.
Yet in today’s busy-busy world, how do you make time to sit down, get out the pen, and write a note?
Here are a few tricks you might love:
1. Tuck a few cards into the back of your moleskine.
If you’re like me, and you carry a notebook and a pen around, use that back flap to tuck a few postcards and blank notecards into the back. If you have a laptop case, a soft case for your ipad or tablet, or a kindle case, that also works. (I keep notecards in my kindle case and my moleskine).
2. Stock up on notecards and postcards at thrift shops or airports when traveling.
I always add an extra $20 into a trip to buy a little set of cards from a local artist or craft store. It’s a great way to get a souvenir without having to take anything extra that stays in my home for too long.
3. Keep a stack in a box on your desk.
I have a small box with several dozen cards and postcards in it that sits on my desk, next to my pen jar. Anytime I’m waiting for something to load (saving, uploading, syncing, rebooting – you name it, there’s technical lag time) — I’ll grab a card and write.
4. Keep a special slim bag for notecards and stamps.
I have a special zippered bag that has travel essentials in it — whenever I’m consulting, teaching, or getting on an airplane for a work trip — and I keep my converters, chargers, and essential digital items in there. (It’s a handy bag that I adore and it has all the wires and cords for setting up projectors, adaptors, and more). It’s got a little sleeve down the side and I put in a stack of notecards and business cards to be ready whenever I need them.
I love those waterproof all-in-one zippered bags, cosmetic bags, or all-function zippered bags from MUJI.
5. When you feel the urge or a twinge that says, I miss that person — write.
Capture the intuition. I’ve written to people I’ve barely talked to, people I admire online and respect greatly, and send notes to people who I can sense are having a hard time. Sometimes it’s been years and I see someone’s face again online and I think — ahh, that person is lovely. I know we didn’t keep in touch, but I’ll send a little note.
6. Use takeoff and landing time!
When airlines tell me to “put away and stow all electronic devices,” I smile and grab my notecard bag. Whenever I’m departing is a great time to scribble out a few quick thank-you notes to the people who hosted me, people I just met, or people I spent time workshopping with. There’s usually at least 20 minutes between takeoff and getting to cruising altitude, so I use that time to jot out my notes, thank-you’s for the holidays, and anyone else I feel like writing to.
But what do you say?
Writing quick cards is about cultivating the habit — keeping the cards near you on your desk, in your purse, or in a device that you use all the time (read: laptop, kindle, tablet) means it’s super easy to grab one quickly when you need it. I keep cards all around me so that when I get the urge, I can cultivate the habit.
Keep the notes simple.
And here are a few scripts I love. Take ’em, use ’em, run with ’em:
“Congratulations! I saw your recent good news and I wanted to say how inspiring everything you do is. Keep it up! XO.”
“Been thinking about you. I know it’s been forever since we’ve connected, but I wanted to drop a note and say how delightful it is to see what you’re working on. From an old friend, XO.”
“Sending you lots of love and hugs right now! I know that life has a lot of rough and tumble spots and I wanted to send a little smile your way.”
“I wanted to drop a quick note and say THANK YOU for hosting me this past week. It was wonderful to stay with you and meet your crew and I appreciate your hospitality so much!”
“You’re the best. Seriously. Thank you.”
“Just wanted to say hi!”
When in doubt, add your favorite quote or two and just a couple of sentences. It doesn’t have to be an epic letter — the note says enough when you send it.
I love handwritten notes.
Send a little happiness into the world!
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