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6 Times When Using A Pen Is Better Than Using A Keyboard

6 Times When Using A Pen Is Better Than Using A Keyboard

Even in technology-driven 2014, there are still a lot of benefits to doing things manually. In particular, using a pen and writing in a notebook can often prove to be a better way to get down ideas or information than using a keyboard on a computer or tablet. For all the software out there to make writing simpler and more efficient, sometimes you can’t beat the tools that have been used since cavemen were carving on walls. For first drafts, using handwriting is often superior to even the most advanced word processor. Here are six situations where using a pen is superior to using a keyboard.

1. Brainstorming

Your flurry of ideas shouldn’t be held back by the constraints of a word processor. Writing free-form is much more flexible than typing in something like Microsoft Word; it allows you to put all of your thoughts onto the page in whatever form those ideas come to you. If you’re having a burst of inspiration your big ideas probably won’t come in a linear order, so why should you write them in one?

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2. Making Quick Mind Maps

Mind maps are an awesome way to organize information visually. They let you make connections that you wouldn’t have made otherwise and allow you to branch out a simple concept into a series of sub-categories and sub-sub-categories. Mind maps can be made on a computer, but are much more effective when they’re made by hand because adding a new concept is as easy as drawing an oval.

3. Sketching

Apps like Paper are great at replicating the drawing experience on a tablet, but they’re still not as effective as simply sketching with pen and paper. If you have an idea you can easily scribble it into your notebook to explain it to someone, and you’re also able to tear out the page and hand it to them right then and there. Additionally, even with popular apps like Notability available, there’s no way to draw and take notes on the same document that’s as legible and intuitive as plain, old pen and paper.

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4. Annotating

Do you know how to make a quick annotation in a word processor? Probably not. Meanwhile, it’s extremely easy in a notebook; just put an asterisk (*) after the thing that needs annotating and include the annotation at the bottom of that page. If you’re writing the draft that you’re going to be turning in to your editor or professor you’ll probably want to make it professional, but if you’re just jotting down a first or even second draft, then using a pen and notebook is a better option.

5. Tracking Your Changes

Having Track Changes on while you’re writing something in Microsoft Word is distracting. Every time you delete a word, or even just a letter, the page gets more cluttered, but it’s the only way you can keep a record of what you’re changing as you’re writing. Know what you can do using a pen that’s not nearly as distracting? Cross out words or letters as you write in a notebook.

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6. Learning as You Write

A lot of people take furious notes in the classroom but don’t actually study those notes. If that’s the case, the only chance they have at not failing their tests is if they wrote those notes by hand. When typing you’re just transcribing what your teachers or professors are saying, not pausing long enough to really consider the meaning of the words. When you’re using a pen, the words you’re hearing and writing have just enough time to gestate in your head so that you’re actually learning during the lecture. When Scientific American covered the subject, the magazine cited how handwriting requires different kinds of cognitive processing than typing on a computer. Even science agrees that, at times, the best technology for writing is a pen rather than a keyboard.

Featured photo credit: Chris Chapman via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Freelance Writer, Marketer

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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