By Kevin Meyer
I'm an early adopter tech geek at heart, and generally am among the first to embrace a new technology. I love my gizmos, although I focus on how they can be used to streamline and simplify life, not add unnecessary complexity. But there's one area where I'm still decidedly old school.
I like to write… by hand. I've tried electronic planners and journals, but they just don't work for me. Instead of having to open my iPad, turn it on, select the right app, and then start writing in a somewhat clumsy manner, I prefer to open my small moleskine and just start scribbling.
Each morning before I start work I write down my top three tasks for the day and I take a moment to record some gratitude – it's amazing how that creates focus and changes your perspective and outlook. During the day I'll take notes on calls, ideas, and to-do's. And at the end of the day I'll review – hansei – my top three to see if I accomplished what I set out to do, and if not then why not and how I'll improve. I'll record any final thoughts, which at my age is starting to be a necessity so the next morning I'll remember where I left off. Instead of an electronic task manager or online personal kanban, I have Post-It notes arranged in careful symmetry and order on my desk. Portable? No. Effective? Very much so.
Journaling is an incredibly powerful tool Robin Sharma also talks about the power of journaling in this video. But there's another aspect of journaling that gives it power: handwriting it vs typing. Mark Gavoor dug into this this morning.
Yet, there is
something more intimate and old school about hand writing. It is a different mind, eye, hand, pen, and paper
interaction and interface than the mind, eye, finger, keyboard, and screen
interaction and interface. It is hard to
explain, but having done a lot of both there are differences. Perhaps it is quite simple explained by the
fact that I first learned handwriting and, until recently, did all my writing
that way. It may just feel more natural
and comfortable. Another way of looking
at it that with handwriting I am creating, more artistically, my own words and
thoughts directly onto the paper. I can
watch a notebook fill with my scribbling.
Handwriting is more personal than typing on a screen even though there
are limitless fonts to choose from.
Handwriting into a notebook, where the cover gets worn and weathered
(might I use the word Patina
?) is different compared to the anonymity and sameness of a list of .docx files
stored on a hard disk or cloud.
I would distill it into something similar:
The process of writing by hand creates understanding, ownership, introspection, and thus learning.
This is also why I regularly harp on the advantages of scribbling on whiteboards over typing into "the machine" and then coercing that data onto reports or electronic displays. When you write a production number, metric, or problem on a white board you own that number, you immediately see the relationship between it and the numbers next to it, you recognize patterns and trends, and you may have to even explain it to peers standing around you. Action can be taken immediately to change an unfavorable situation.
Typing into a computer? Not so much. Somehow that data is mysteriously transformed into other numbers and analyses that you may see a week or even month later and the linkage, understanding, and ownership of that relationship is lost. You end up with a bunch of folks trained to feed the machine, and a different bunch of folks trained to supposedly interpret what the machine spits out. The problem – and opportunity – is obvious.
Write it, don't type it. You might be surprised with what happens.
As an architect, it’s obvious to me why we humans tend to like writing: our brains are housed in material bodies that inhabit a material world, and putting pen(cil) to paper is a material act.
There’s a whole community of pen & pencil blogs and such — the Pen Addict ( http://penaddict.com/ ) is a good starting point.
I like both pens & keyboards. I think today there’s too much emphasis on mobility, and not enough on ergonomics & quality. So I’m using a quality keyboard with Cherry blue keyswitches, a Lenovo Thinkpad with an excellent keyboard, and I have way too many good Japanese gel pens, along with a Kuro Toga pencil.
I work as a Dispatcher for a small longhaul LTL trucking company.
When planning and sheduling loads. nothing beats having actual physical documents and a board to arrainge them on.
As you said, the act of moving, and changing loads around, releases new combinations.
I know that many large trucking companies could not survive with Computer Dispatching, but I think doing it “By Hand” as it were, is better for a small/medium sized company. At least from a Dollars/Time standpoint.
John Hunter says
My father and Brian Joiner advocated writing charts by hand for the same reason. It also prevents you from collecting 1,000 pieces of useless data – who would write all that down.
Even 20 years ago people thought this was a quaint, outdated idea. I think it has merit.
Sure use technology for some of the data needs but plotting a bit of data by hand that actual is important get the ideas into your head differently – it is also good to get you used to what data is really like (plotting it yourself just teaches you differently).
But I don’t imagine many people will.
I have recently started to journal, by hand. It has been eye-opening how difficult it has been. From a physical standpoint. It was humbling to see how far gone this simple skill had gotten due to technology. I’m writing, by hand, more and more now by hand to make sure I don’t lose that skill.
could not agree more – start with a sketch, then an outline, then fill it in section by section. pens are great to write with, make you consider what you write more and more, and there is no autocorrect but you can always go old school and get a big eraser.
could be the next roadmap to somewhere cool. old school cool.