Ten years ago I thought taking notes on paper was nuts, and putting your ToDo list on it, pure insanity. Why would anyone use paper? Paper is slower, paper wasteful, plus paper has to be carried around when I already have my phone, tablet or computer with me.
Fast forward to today, I love paper. I mix paper and digital, resulting in a system that works much better than my former all-digital system did.
Here are five reasons I use paper over digital.
- Digital is infinite, and that’s not always good. When my task lists exist only in digital form, they are eternally long, and I never get through them. I used to play the game where I would move a task from being due today to tomorrow, and then to the next. Now my task list starts digitally, but each week and day I write out what tasks I will complete. Writing out my tasks for the day gives me a finite list I can work with.
- Paper forces me to be realistic about what I will accomplish that day. The act of writing forces me to take a beat and think through my day and my tasks. I never want to write out a bunch of tasks I won’t complete, only to rewrite them tomorrow, so I find that I am much more cautious about what goes on my paper task list for the day.
- Writing is slow, and that’s good. Because writing is slow, it forces me to be more selective about what I will write. It also forces me to slow down. I tend to move too quickly from thought to thought and task to task. Slowing down to write a bit is very helpful.
- Taking notes on paper has been proven to be more effective. Here is a great article summarizing this study. This quote sums it up nicely:
“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” Mueller tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”
- Paper has an awesome distraction free mode! I love using paper in distraction free mode where I don’t allow any popups or notifications of any kind, don’t you? Seriously though, this is a huge benefit that we shouldn’t overlook. When using devices for our lists and notes, we are inherently distracted. Paper forces focus. I love that!