Today, most of our daily activities can in some way be performed through our phones, which in most cases also results in increased efficiency and productivity. So what’s with the title, right? Why go back to pen and paper?
It all comes down to commitment and lack of focus.
We’ve reached a point in time where most people wouldn’t last a week without their smartphone. It may sound harsh when put in that way, but think about it: it really just points to the emotional value that the mobile can bring to us. Everyday activities such as meeting up with a group of friends or keeping up with new habits are suddenly a lot easier—and it's all thanks to the smartphone.
There are still a few areas where mobile brings more harm than good, though. When it comes down to focus, phones can truly be your worst enemy.
Having several apps that are constantly battling for your attention by pushing notifications to your locked screen is no recipe for concentration. The modern smartphone is (despite its benefits) a constant flood of distractions, which can be devastating in situations where you really should be focusing on a single task.
Imagine trying to study or work, and every time you get 5 minutes of focus ‘Steve’ barges through the door with excitement, telling you about his weekend plans, or showing videos of his five cats playing. This might not be an accurate representation of your reality, but that's not the point. Steve’s interruptions are what notifications are on your smartphone during times that require focus.
Even if you choose to ignore them, the mere fact that you have seen them is damaging your concentration through slight nudges to your focus.
In the same way that you don’t want people interrupting you during studies and office time– or other situations that require focus for that matter, you don’t want people (or apps) interrupting you through your phone.
Another benefit of using pen & paper is tied to the commitment of physically writing things down. The fast tempo of digital typing, where entire sentences can be written and deleted in a matter of seconds, can cause you to put less thought into your work. In contrast, correcting mistakes while using pen and paper is a hassle and best avoided. This ultimately causes deeper thought to be put into the work, knowing that the imperfection of each word, sentence and paragraph matters.
This is especially clear when making to-do lists, where there is little to no satisfaction in completing tasks when doing it digitally. Writing down your tasks can be of great value when trying to be productive, but it can be a very difficult habit to adopt for some.
If you're having trouble doing so, try making your list by hand. It may or may not be directly tied to the effort required, but most would agree that there is something very satisfying with crossing out a task from a to-do list made by hand. It almost becomes a reward in itself, and way more fun!
3. Embracing simplicity
Do yourself a favor, try taking a step away from digital from time to time. In a very digitalised and noisy world, disconnecting and putting the phone away from time to time can be very soothing. Not only will it help you focus, but enjoying the beauty of everything non-technical in our lives can be a good way to reduce overall stress. So even if you are completely dependent on the internet to be able to work, just take a few minutes to switch off and breathe. You'll be surprised at how calming it feels.