Pen vs. Keyboard: Which helps you organize better?

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I have a hybrid organizing system that involves pens and keyboard. I use a Palm for my datebook and address book and I write my to do lists by hand. I’ve tried to get the whole system on the Palm, but it just doesn’t work for me. Partly, it’s because of the thinking process that goes into writing my lists.

I noticed back in college that I remembered more about a lecture when I took notes, even when I never looked at them again! I could actually visualize the page where I’d written a particular note and recall what it said without opening the notebook. I also occasionally read that hand writing activates different areas of your brain than typing does.

I’m reading a productivity book that recommends going entirely over to writing by hand and I have to say I’m tempted. I plan to review the book, Todoodlist, when I finish it, but right now I’m just intrigued by why it’s so different to move a pen across paper.

When I write a list by hand, lots is going on. I stop to doodle in the margin, I write smaller or larger, I notice more graphically how long my list is, I make symbols in the margin to group items, I make sublists out on the right margin, I scratch the cat’s head with my pen, etc. I find I’m thinking, planning, visualizing, daydreaming and strategizing much more than I do when putting to do’s into the PDA. It’s also more enjoyable. That’s got to be worth something!

I also prefer writing on unlined paper. Maybe that’s another good blog topic…

What do you prefer and why?

Writing from tosaytheleast’s photostream

8 thoughts on “Pen vs. Keyboard: Which helps you organize better?

  1. I prefer using pen and paper for thinking and brainstorming and then using a computer for refining and organizing ideas.
    I do this with music as well. I will normally compose with a pencil and staff paper at the piano, but when I need to orchestrate or take a theme and develop it more, I’ll use a computer.
    For taking notes, I’ll use a pen and paper because my note taking leans heavily on mind mapping. For many types of lectures I don’t usually take notes at all other than recording test dates and assignments.

  2. I prefer using pen and paper for thinking and brainstorming and then using a computer for refining and organizing ideas.
    I do this with music as well. I will normally compose with a pencil and staff paper at the piano, but when I need to orchestrate or take a theme and develop it more, I’ll use a computer.
    For taking notes, I’ll use a pen and paper because my note taking leans heavily on mind mapping. For many types of lectures I don’t usually take notes at all other than recording test dates and assignments.

  3. Mark,
    Sounds like your preferences fit with the theory that paper and hand writing are more conducive to creativity, and the computer and keyboard lend themselves more to the left brain parts of a project. Thanks for your input!
    Claire

  4. Mark,
    Sounds like your preferences fit with the theory that paper and hand writing are more conducive to creativity, and the computer and keyboard lend themselves more to the left brain parts of a project. Thanks for your input!
    Claire

  5. Hmm … .
    I don’t use computerized organization, for the most part. Sure I have emails that I save with said information, but that’s about it.
    I’ve found over the years that the computerized organizers can get out of date and not transferable (easily) or just plain blow up and go away. My paper and pens have never failed me.
    I use white, unlined 3×5 cards and write what I need on them. Yeah, phone numbers or whatever. Then, I loosely stack them near my monitor/phone. Then, when I need a number, I pick up the entire stack and dig through them all (no sorted order). This way, I’m remembered of people and places that I’ve forgotten about and can revisit!
    I used to use tongue depressors and a pencil cup for the same.
    I’m hungry.
    Biggles

  6. Hmm … .
    I don’t use computerized organization, for the most part. Sure I have emails that I save with said information, but that’s about it.
    I’ve found over the years that the computerized organizers can get out of date and not transferable (easily) or just plain blow up and go away. My paper and pens have never failed me.
    I use white, unlined 3×5 cards and write what I need on them. Yeah, phone numbers or whatever. Then, I loosely stack them near my monitor/phone. Then, when I need a number, I pick up the entire stack and dig through them all (no sorted order). This way, I’m remembered of people and places that I’ve forgotten about and can revisit!
    I used to use tongue depressors and a pencil cup for the same.
    I’m hungry.
    Biggles

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