Why Make Paper To Do Lists? Because Writing Helps You Remember

I am neither a romantic or a technophobe. Studies have shown that when you write something down on paper, you are more likely to remember it. Until about 25 days ago, I was keeping my to do list on the computer. It seemed to make sense because I could share the same information to my iPhone, iPad, and laptop as well.

As a programmer, I have repeatedly approached the problem with web apps, desktop apps, you name it if it was appropriate, I tried it. I also downloaded multiple to do list apps for inspiration and to try to jump over the planning directly to success. But none of them satisfied me.

What made matters worse was that it’s way too easy to blow off an app. Even if the app runs automatically, it’s simple enough to dismiss it because “I’m too busy right now” and then never go back.

But there’s a bigger issue here as well and I’ve seen the research to back it up. When you write something with a pen on paper, it is actually easier to remember. Let me say that again. Writing with a pen on a piece of paper is easier to remember than typing on a computer or tapping on a phone or tablet.

Making To Do Lists on Paper

Every morning, when I sit down at my computer, I open the notebook next to my computer and write the date at the top of the page. Then I take a minute or two to make a list of the things I want to accomplish. Some things are always on my list, like taking my pills or checking eMail.

The list serves two purposes. It reminds me to do things and it also shows me the things I’ve done. When I complete a task, I ad a check next to the item. It may seem silly to list things I do every day. Shouldn’t I be able to remember them by now? Yes, normally I do remember. What listing those items does is show me that I did them.

Writing a To Do list on paper
Listing your tasks on paper, courtesy of Unsplash.

This whole practice started because of the coming together of two separate things. The first was the repeated question “Did I take my pills today?” and this article: “Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing Than by Typing” on Lifehacker.

Writing on Paper has Other Benefits

According to “Why Using Pen And Paper, Not Laptops, Boosts Memory: Writing Notes Helps Recall Concepts, Ability To Understand“, published at Medical Daily, describes an experiment where a group of students watch the same lecture. Each student was encouraged to use whatever method they normally use to take notes. Students were tested an hour after the lecture and again a week later.

“Even after a week of review, the students who took notes in longhand were found to do significantly better than the other students in the experiment, including the fleet typists — those who transcribed the lectures.”

Why Using Pen And Paper, Not Laptops, Boosts Memory: Writing Notes Helps Recall Concepts, Ability To Understand

We constantly hear that “handwriting is a thing of the past” but maybe it shouldn’t be. Studies have shown that students should take notes by hand rather than typing because it helps the learning process. The best of both worlds would be to write your notes by hand and then transcribe them into the computer when you’re done. Now you’ve got the portability of a computer file based on the learnability of handwritten notes.

Whatever you do, make the most of writing with a pen on paper.

Life as we Knew It BC*

*BC: Before COVID-19

In the last three months, almost everything we know for certain has changed. I really miss life as we knew it before COVID-19 hit.

We fondly remember gathering with family and friends for food, drink, and pleasant conversation. I don’t miss going out to restaurants as much as I miss my family. Things have started to open up, to seem to go back to what we used to consider normal, but I fear that we are only heading towards a resurgence of the virus and maybe a return to lock-down.

Life as we knew it!
Picture courtesy of Pixabay

The people most likely to be affected by lock-down and self-isolation are the people who live alone. I can complain that we as a family could no longer touch and kiss as much as we would like for fear of infecting each other. (By now, we’ve been isolated from the rest of the world enough to not have to worry about that anymore!) But what if you live alone?

There are definitely some advantages to living alone. You have sole control over the remote, you can eat whatever you want, and you don’t have to worry about keeping someone up or being awakened at three in the morning to the sounds of heavy artillery while your partner or kids play Call of Duty. On the other hand, other than video chat, living alone during a lock-down means talking to oneself–a lot!

I tell myself that would be fine with me. I believe that I could handle the solitude with no strain. Lately I’m not so sure. When I want to talk to my husband, he’s at the other end of the hall–or the other side of the bed–and I can go and talk to him, hug him, kiss him, as much as I want to. My son’s door is halfway between and it’s easy to invite him down to my office or to the living room downstairs to watch a movie or play a game.

I don’t miss bars. I’m the only person in my immediate family who drinks alcohol, and I don’t do that much anymore because of the calories. But I do miss movie theaters and stores where they aren’t trying to hurry you along so the next people can come in. I miss book stores and libraries. I even miss the Salvation Army Store. There’s a Salvation Army Store about half an hour from me and it’s a great source for used books!

I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a geek. Even so, what I really miss from “before” is the ability to be near other people without having to hide behind a mask. I miss being able to smile at people and have them actually know that I’m smiling. When will someone come up with a see-through mask?

As the world we knew comes back, little by little, here’s to the hope that only the good parts return and that we won’t be forced to lock ourselves away again.

Featured image: Pixabay

Love in the Time of COVID-19

Woman's hand holding a phone

I would not want to be looking for a relationship right now. It’s difficult enough in normal times. It’s significantly harder to look for a significant other in this time of social distancing.

Online dating is probably a good way to start but it can be embarrassing too. I had a strange interaction yesterday that will show you what I mean.

Continue reading “Love in the Time of COVID-19”

Unsocial Media

I have a page on Facebook for my writing and I also have a Twitter account. I created both of these social mediate accounts for the purpose of “building my brand” and making people aware of my existence as an author, programmer, and web designer. That’s the cool thing about social media. You can promote yourself without spending a lot of money on advertising.

One of the disadvantages of social media, however, is the intrusion into your life.

Continue reading “Unsocial Media”