We’ve written before about the cognitive benefits of handwriting, and it seems there’s no shortage of research and other ideas that support the importance of handwriting in an increasingly digital world. In fact, Livescribe commissioned a study by Forrester Consulting back in the spring which revealed that a whopping 87 percent of information workers still use handwritten notes despite the prevalence of laptops and tablets in the workplace, and 67 percent felt that better notes would improve their personal and their organizations’ productivity.
Last week, a Fast Company article picks up on that data as a springboard for further advocacy of handwriting. The writer, Kevin Purdy, raises several compelling reasons why pen and paper are still the best “app” for some fundamental tasks, even while makers of mobile device apps claim a more efficient way to do just about every imaginable human activity.
- Light bulbs! When a great idea occurs to you, there’s nothing faster than handwriting. You can jot your thought down, add diagrams, and let your ideas flow. By contrast, Purdy points out, when you need to fire up a device, open an app, fiddle with fonts, you’re interrupting your natural thought process. Moreover, as a study by a University of Washington psychologist showed, the physical act of writing your idea down helps commit it to memory, as pen strokes activate more regions of the brain associated with memory and language than typing.
- To do lists! Likewise with to do lists, handwritten ones are better committed to memory – and, as Purdy points out, they are portable, fast to access, and the hassle of rewriting them can actually act as an incentive to get things done, so you don’t need to rewrite the same task day after day.
- Focus! Paper contains no distracting links, search boxes or pop-up messages, so Purdy argues, it allows you to focus more thoughtfully on one task at a time. Paper also has the benefit that you can flip back and forth quickly, you can spread out several documents in front of you, and you can scan the length of the document in one glance. And if that’s not enough, another Fast Company writer recently devoted a whole post to the value and bright future of paper.
All this said, we at Livescribe certainly aren’t Luddites – and nor is Purdy. He notes that once you’ve done your deep, undistracted thinking and your ideas are clear, it’s easy to digitize your handwritten notes with tools like Livescribe and Evernote. We couldn’t agree more.