When a pen & spiral notebook is more efficient computers & smartphones

When a pen and notebook beats a computer or smartphone.

I am not a techphobe. I work on a Lenovo laptop every day, and I adore my iPhone. Though I admit I use it more to provide a soundtrack to my sporadic workouts and to navigate the Chicago public transit system than anything else. But there are ton of business apps people use of every day to great effect. Still, as Thorin Kowalski at Lifehacker reminds us, there are some tasks best suited for plain old pen and paper.  

You might have noticed that every single OnTimeSupplies.com employee profiled in our Getting to Know Series cites the pen as their favorite office supply. Here are some ways that working old school with a pen and pad beats using a smartphone or computer.

A pen and writing pad is great for brainstorming.

Can you draw a word tree on a smartphone to link ideas? No, you can not. And try to construct a similar document on a computer, and you’ll spend way too much time trying to format the text. You can’t beat a simple notebook for jotting down ideas and thinking through a project.

Writing longhand slows you down and minimizes your opportunities for goofing off.

Long hand forces you to slow down and think about what you’re saying. In the end, you don’t have to do as much revising and editing as you do when typing. Plus, if you’re stumped or hit a wall, it’s not as easy to distract yourself with cat videos on Youtube. So even though a writing  on writing pad with a pen is slower than typing on a computer, it’s more efficient.

Written to-do lists are hard to ignore and easy to remember.

You remember things better when you write them out by hand. Not to mention, it’s faster & less frustrating that pecking away at a tiny iPhone keyboard. Plus, your phone’s calendar and notes apps are easy to ignore, while a brightly colored Post-it Note is not. Kowalski writes his to-do list on a dry erase board. Personally, I prefer my big, erasable AT-A-Glance calendar. But the concept is the same: a big, visual reminder of all your tasks that’s hard ignore.

Lifehacker leaves it there, but there are other tasks I think are better suited to pen and paper than tech. Address books come to mind. It took me a month to remember my own telephone number when I switched my cell phone provider. And I haven’t memorized anyone else’s number in about 10 years. What about you? When do you choose pen and paper over tech? Let us know in the comments.

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