Why I still use paper

and pencil for jotting ideas

Visual Note-taking Conference Call Notes by Austin Kleon.
Try that electronically!

A quick list of advantages of the good old way of taking notes:

  • When ideas flow, only pencil can keep up with their speed.
  • Doodling actually helps with the idea flow.
  • Ideas are random, typing is linear.
  • You can get away with drawing something on paper to depict a long sentence. Doing the same on a computer will mean sidetracking into finding a clipart.
  • No pesky distractions, including those from the spelling or grammar checkers.
  • My best UI design always starts on paper
  • Easy to create mind maps.
  • Paper is truly portable, I can take it anywhere.
  • Only once I have all the thoughts on paper, do i try to organise them and make them electronic

How about you? What do you prefer, electronic or paper based note taking?

PS: I do like freemind when I am in mood for electronic note taking.

By Hitesh

Hi, I am your host, Hitesh. I am a tech enthusiast and dabble in a variety of subjects. Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

5 replies on “Why I still use paper”

Definitely paper!!! I say this after having tried everything. Plain text tools like Notepad to rich text/media in Evernote. I thought that I should give digital jotting a try and even bought a Wacom Bamboo tablet to use with MS OneNote. I also tried a LG tablet laptop for a month to see if jotting on a display was what I was missing.

In the end, none of these matched my pad of A4 paper and a pen. Paper and pen is immediate, direct and physical. This may be due to a combination of it being a one-application gadget (focus), but with an infinite possibilities of interaction (flexibility). The focus part is extremely important since it is very easy to get distracted while using digital apps. No thank you, I do not want a grammar check or font changed or peck around to see how to add a table.

I must admit there are scenarios where digital tools win. For example, when TODO tasks or ideas strike when I am not anywhere near a desk (commuting or shopping), I just use the voice recorder application on my cellphone to dictate and record them. I have set up the cellphone so that I can get to recording in as less keystrokes as possible.

Today’s kids might actually be more comfortable with digital notetaking. But for me, paper and pen gets the job done better, more creatively and in a more focused manner. I have recently started to use better gel pens and have also started to improve my handwriting, all of which have made this more fun and pleasurable. And at the end of the day, I can anyway transfer the results from paper to digital format for safekeeping or collaboration.

PS: Looking at the photo, for a moment there I was shocked at your drawing skills and was wondering why I had not seen more of your art skills on display here 😉

I could upload my drawings too… unfortunately I am not good in coloring. People might even say I am color blind! One of the reason I switched back to a black and white theme 🙂

I almost never use pen & paper nowadays, only for meetings where it’s easier to jot down notes than type them in.

For rough drafts of documents, presentations etc I just fire up Textpad and start typing, using tab stops to setup the “flow” (yes, Ashwin – I even create tables using tab stops!)

My handwriting is now so miserable that my writing speed can’t keep up with my thinking 🙂

Balaji, sometimes I use editplus. Especially if I can get away with some copy paste sooner or later, thus repaying my ‘effort’ 🙂

Same here, I can type faster than I can write. So, writing speed is not really an advantage for me.

I keep writing because I have found that jotting it down, drawing it and doodling it helps me think through problems in a way I cannot do with digital means.

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