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#Throwback Productivity: Take Notes on Paper

Topics: Career Advice

When was the last time you regularly used pen and paper? Was it for cursive practice in the third grade? Doodling on handouts in high school while you daydreamed through that lecture on Hamlet? Is it possible that you’re starting to get bored with taking down all of your mental notes in that ever-convenient-yet-one-dimensional “notes” app on your phone? Maybe it’s time to give old paper a second chance.


(Photo Credit: Dariusz Sankowski/

As Inc recently pointed out, paper is more than just a reminder of the devastating reality of deforestation. It’s a fantastic tool that we can use to explore our creative limits, boost our daily productivity, and maybe actually even remember something we wrote down this morning. And the best part: it’s cheap, it’s got unlimited battery life, and you can’t crack the screen.

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Here are just a few more reasons why you might consider breaking out a dusty journal tomorrow at work instead of that incessantly buzzing music player of yours that occasionally takes phone calls.

Freedom to Create

There’s no denying the viability of today’s technology. We’re living in the age of VR, for goodness’ sake. But when you’re taking notes on an iPhone, or even a laptop, there are so many defined lines within which you have to create.

The truth is, on paper, you can explore any inch, from any angle, from edge to edge. It’s a messy environment, one study shows, that can actually help us to engage our creative side and bring out fresh ideas.

Power to Remember

As Fast Company reports, writing by hand actually improves brain and memory function. The science is simple: you’re engaging your brain by taking more strokes to write out each letter. For both kids and adults, the article shows, writing it down on paper improves not only the strength of the memory, but the length of which you hold onto it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to write down a To-Do list, and be able to recall parts of it without having to constantly check your phone? It would seem that paper is your best shot at changing that habit.

A Break From The Everyday Flow

You may not feel like you’re someone who can be creative, or are not comfortable with breaking from your normal way of doing things. But by relegating yourself to certain habits or ways of thinking, you’re actually stifling your potential productivity.

Productive discomfort” is the concept of getting outside your comfortable routine to a place where you can push your own boundaries, and in the end have a proven way of boosting your productivity. Go home, find a notebook, and give something new a shot. You may surprise yourself at the results.

Tell Us What You Think

When’s the last time you broke out a notebook or journal for a change of pace? Do you think paper is an environmentally insensitive and archaic system that’s holding us all back? We want to hear from you! Share your comments and criticisms in the area below, or join the conversation on Twitter!

Peter Swanson
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