Walking with a friend recently, we were talking about our careers, and how we find the world around us. He pointed out that everyone perceives the world differently, and that this is almost entirely dictated by our internal models of the real world - if we let the drift, or colour reality too much (in any direction) it can be bad for us.

Having parted, I was walking back to the office, and in the lift I wrote myself an email.

mental model - challenge it periodically. where does it differ to the real world, where does the real world differ to it.

A complete email from me, to myself in May 2024

I do this often. If I have a moment during the day where I have a realisation about my life, an interaction with someone sparks an idea, or my subconscious finally sees resolution to a long standing problem, I email myself a quick note. Just enough to fire those same neurons again.

There's two things I'm doing here. One, reflecting often, taking stock and turning my problems into solutions, or at least viable next steps, or realisations that help add context and new understanding. And two: noting those down and putting them somewhere I'll keep seeing them until they've turned into other actions (maybe on my todo list), or have become part of my new thinking. Then I delete them.

The reason this works for me is that I tend to use (or see) my inbox as a todo list in waiting. What's there needs to be deleted, archived, or acted upon (and then deleted or archived). Things that remain in my inbox are things I have yet to resolve or find a way forwards on. So these little ideas can go through the same filter. I'll get home and delete the ones that don't resonate anymore, and the ones that do, but still need some thought, wait there in my inbox for further inspiration to come. They get reviewed once or twice a day, like the rest of my email, and keep the conversation alive in my head.

Then one day I'll work out how to act upon it, and they get archived, deleted, or turned into a specific set of actions for immedate resolution or to sit in my actions list for the right time and mindset to complete them.

Email also keeps track of the date I sent them, it's searchable, and it's always available in my pocket, for free, with an easy, rich interface. No special apps needed - which is important because it means there's very few distractions to recording that important thought.

The root cause is your confidence, stop changing the tasks to be more comfortable and have a word with that instead.

Another email I sent myself, August 2022

These emails very often move me forwards. The one above was about my mindset in general, but I noticed that I kept shying away from a task, amending the task, working out new things to do in its stead. I was solving everything but what I realised (on the train home) was the root cause - my relationship with the task. Once I realised I wasn't feeling confident about it, and as such kept trying to find a way to make the task sit inside my comfort zone, I found the clarity that a) this wasn't sustainable and would only lead to diminishing returns and b) I just needed to step up this once to face the task, and it would be complete and done. I've done that a thousand times, of course, it's how I got where I am today. But the note was needed to see it vividly and realise I knew how to conquer it.

Good team culture, trusted people, outcome-focused, focus spaces as well as open spaces, what else?...

Writing down what made my most successful projects tick, Jan 2021

Some of them make good sense, some of them lose meaning with time.

Strategy, set narrative

We were circling at work, in treadmill mode. I decided to propose the strategy and use that to structure the conversations on outcomes rather than status updates. The following morning, I put it to action. August 2023.

Do you write notes to yourself? Would you write notes to yourself? If so, below are a few tips that work for me, in the hope that some are useful.

Keep it short, don't overthink it. Just write down what you needed, nothing more. If you're on the train home and decompressing, or in bed and trying to drift off, or on a walk back to the office - you don't need to start now. Just write down enough to conjure the image up again later and hit send.

Sometimes the subject is just "thoughts" or "to do", sometimes the subect is the body - the one liner was all I needed.

"New" Outlook has adapted to supporting this way of working, and highlights these emails as "Notes to self".

If you don't want to send messages to yourself, chuck them in your To Do app or similar. Personally, I find that these are messages to myself, the action, ideas, content, etc comes later. But remembering it was just another version of me having an opinion is helpful, especially in not taking them too seriously.

This only works if your email inbox is something you review periodically, and in a space that means you can focus just enough. If you're very fast paced and constantly checking your inbox on the train, these messages might just be self-spam instead. You might need a notebook or similar, or a journal app, that is used when you are giving youself time. (You do give yourself time, right?)


In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to let brilliant ideas and valuable reflections slip away in the hustle and bustle of daily life. By emailing myself these thoughts, I’ve found a simple yet powerful way to capture and act on them, ensuring continuous personal and professional growth.

This method has transformed how I approach my development. It’s a practical, accessible, and effective way to keep track of insights, ideas, and growth points. Whether it's jotting down a quick thought or reflecting on a recent experience, sending myself an email has become a vital part of my routine.

I encourage you to try this practice. Start small, and make it a habit to email yourself those fleeting ideas and reflections. You might be surprised at how much you can achieve and how much clearer your path to growth becomes.

Do you have a unique way of capturing your ideas and reflections? Share your methods and experiences so we can learn and grow together!

Thank you for reading, and I hope this personal growth hack helps you as much as it has helped me. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog for more tips and insights on personal and professional development.