Paper, Digital, or Both?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
We live in a digitally connected world. I have an iPhone, iPad, iMac, and a laptop running Windows. My calendars, emails, and note apps sync between all four devices. What an efficient way to work. It must make me so productive and allow me to accomplish so much. I bet you’re thinking my calendar is managed perfectly, and I am always prepared for each meeting. Now I can throw away my paper and pens, right? Well, not so fast. Let’s see what is really happening.
Digital connectivity is great. Yes, I do have all my devices connected, but paper and pens aren’t going anywhere. In fact, I am using it more and more. Studies have shown that writing things down by hand benefits us in the following ways:
Better Memory Recall – Writing notes longhand offer better short-term and long-term recall because they contain our own words and handwriting. When we read them, we can actually recreate the context and content. I see this happen when I am conducting a 360-degree feedback survey. I hand write all of my notes by hand. When I type the notes into a summary, I feel like I am hearing the comments all over again. I can remember the context that the person was giving at the time the note was written.
Critical Thinking – Writing notes by hand sharpens critical thinking because it allows our brains to process the information at a deeper level. As you write, your brain makes connections between the deeper thoughts and allows you to be more creative.
Stronger Conceptual Understanding – Handwriting is slower, so your brain is allowed to process what you are hearing and think more completely about what you have heard, rather than simply taking dictation. Once again, I use the example of the 360s that I conduct. In one company I met with 65 employees and asked 11 questions of each person. When I created the summaries, I was so surprised by the details and context that I remembered as I reviewed my handwritten notes.
I’m not saying throw the technology away, but I am suggesting that you give the old tried and true a chance. Next time you need to take some notes, grab a piece of paper and a pen. You might be surprised by what you will remember.
If you would like to know how I combine my digital calendars and my handwritten planner, join Marisa Norcross and me on Episode 123 of The Next Page. Even I am amazed at how well it works.