Notes vs. Apps
In this modern world of apps and touchscreens, there is more variety than ever when it comes to digitally tracking tasks, setting reminders and taking notes—yet there is a strong case to be made that none of this fancy software or advanced technology can ever replace the freedom and reliability of a notebook and pen. Analogue note taking has several benefits which its digital counterpart cannot reproduce, and the act of physically writing something down has a profound effect on the mind when it comes to memory and cognition (Allen, 2001).
It’s true that digital notes have their place, with convenience, access and scope far surpassing what can be achieved through the traditional alternative. Most people have a smartphone with them at all times, and a few swipes and taps can jot down thoughts at literally any moment of the day; not that staring at a glaring screen in the middle of the night is the healthiest way to record your dream journal. I do however find it very useful to manage my grocery list via the Notes app on iOS—I can update it from any device, share it in real time with Bonnie and check off each item with a satisfying tap as I move through the aisles.
So what does the alternative bring to the table? Above all else, writing notes and journaling is a way to express your thoughts in a tangible fashion. It allows you to organise, reflect, and take the time to stop and think about your goals in as broad or focused a way as necessary.
The ‘bullet journal’ method has become a huge craze over the past few years with a devoted following on social media. While there are some basic guidelines to help get the most out of this practice, no set rules apply and it is more about finding a style and format that works for you. Bullet journaling is designed as a quick and approachable way to practise daily note taking to help increase productivity, or even enhance mood and concentration.
What you can’t do on your screen, a pen does best; and then there are the occasions where pulling out an electronic device to write down a useful thought for later might not be possible. You wouldn’t want to be seen as rude, tapping away on your phone during a meeting with your boss. Jotting words in a notebook on the other hand, will make you appear earnest and responsible.
A good notebook is a daily companion, a repository for your thoughts and feelings and a tool to help you organise your life. While the accessibility of apps and cloud-based programs certainly have their merits, you can’t beat the inherent ease of use that pen and paper provides. The function of handwriting keeps you grounded with limited distractions—something which technology cannot promise. Plus, you’ll look a lot more prepared (and cooler) taking physical notes than staring idly at your screen, fingers tapping aimlessly.
Source cited: Allen, D. (2001). Getting Things Done.