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.

Apparently “No News” is not “Good News”

It used to be that if you submitted an article, story, book proposal or novel and you hadn’t been rejected, there was still the possibility that the publisher was just running behind. Until you actually got that piece of paper (or email) that said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” there was still a chance. You would check your mail or your email every day and tell yourself, “Well, no news is good news. Maybe I’ll hear next week.”

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Never Give Up, Never Surrender

The title is a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Galaxy Quest,” one of the best spoofs and homages to Star Trek that I’ve ever seen. The saying is a bit trite, but maybe it’s time I took it to heart anyway. I’ve known that I want to be a writer since I was seven years old. That’s almost 50 years! And, in some ways I’ve succeeded. I’ve been a [Technical] Writer on and off for the past sixteen years. I’ve made pretty good money at it. But I’ve made only a bit over $100 writing fiction.

Is it a matter of being hypercritical?

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A Programmer in Technical Writer’s Clothing

I worked for Microsoft in Redmond, WA for a little over four years, first as a contractor and then as a full-time employee. Although I enjoyed my time there, I don’t regret moving back to New York State. The three of us, my husband, my son, and I, missed our family here on the East Coast. Also, by moving back, my son had a chance to get to know his grandfather much better than he would have if we had stayed.

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When I Grow Up

When I was ten years old, I wanted to be a writer. Actually, my oldest memories of “what I want to be when I grow up” involved telling stories. I started reading when I was three or four. I read Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Doolittle, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and books of fairy tales. As I grew up, I broadened my horizons. I read all kinds of fiction and non-fiction. But all that time I dreamed about writing my own stories. I wanted to give back. All those books and stories took me to other worlds, worlds where magic worked, worlds where you never knew what you were going to find around the next corner.

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Now I’m miffed

What good is copyright if it doesn’t stop people from stealing?

Copyright violation is an awful thing. Someone has taken my book, Dreams in Transit, converted it to a PDF file, and uploaded it to a downloads site for other members to download for free.

How do I know? I have a Google alert defined for my book, Dreams in Transit. Today I got a message with an alert and, when I checked it out, there was a link that turned out to be to a site that is allowing my book to be downloaded for free. I have sent them an email notifying them that it is a copyright violation for them to offer my book for free without my permission. I told them to stop. I doubt it will do much good. Is it worth hiring a lawyer? I’m sure Amazon isn’t going to help.

With the fact that my book has barely sold, I’m wondering how anyone knows about it to be trying to violate my copyright by stealing it.

I will update this post when I see what happens.