It is clear that we live in the digital age: smartphones, tablets, and laptops have all become the norm.  As a huge proponent for going digital and reducing the amount of paper in my life, I feel that I am more organized.  However, one of my classmates recently challenged me to try using paper and pen.  My friend claimed it would make me more organized, free my mind, improve my memory, and it can help you work out problems easier.

Of course, I didn’t believe my friend at all.  But she bet me $20 that I’d see the light if only I’d give the paper and pen lifestyle a chance.  Being someone that can’t resist a challenge, I agreed.  Here are my results:

Fewer Distractions

Normally, my life is on the computer.  The first thing I do every morning is check my email and Facebook.  From there, I get to work in Microsoft OneNote, download presentations for my classes, and share documents via DropBox.  But while I do all of that, there are tons of distractions all around, begging for my attention.  Everything from news on CNN, funny videos posted on Facebook, and sales emails in my inbox.  All of this knowledge is wonderful – but it does come at a price of distraction.  It is just so easy to pop open a new browser tab and get distracted.  With paper, that distraction really isn’t there for me.

Frees Your Mind

Writing things down can really free your mind of worries and stress.  Things like grocery lists or any little thing that you want to remember are best written down so that you can refer to them later without the fear of forgetting them.  I used to be a firm believer that using my note-taking programs and digital sticky notes was enough.  But I soon realized that when I had to use my tiny phone keyboard to type, I would just get lazy and not put the note down at all.  By not recording these thoughts, I was letting them sit in my mind and cause worry and stress.  While using paper, I was more likely to write down the thought or list into my planner notebook – either directly on the page or on a sticky note.  By writing it down, I started to feel less stressed and I felt more on top of things.

Increases Memory

The simple act of using pen to paper to write things down can help you remember what you wrote.  Whenever I have a test to study for, I always hand-write my study guide because the mere act of writing it down will help  my mind remember the information come test day.  Doing this for my shopping lists, to-do lists, and other bits of information I want to remember, helps me remember what I will need.  When I type things out, sometimes I remember the information but it isn’t as concrete as when I write the information down.

Conclusion

In the end, it truly comes down to preference and the sort of information you are recording.  While I see the benefits of writing with paper and pen, I’m still a die-hard digital recorder because of the ease of organization and the less paper clutter in my life.

What do you think?  Are you a paper and pen kind of a person or a record everything digitally kind of person?

[Photo: GuudMorning on Flickr]