How the way you write changes the way you think
Which is better: pencil or keyboard? Canadian journalist Clive Thompson offers a well-researched take on a common debate.
Clive's talk is from 2014 but I've just come across it. For me, the points that stood out were:
- Handwriting is best for taking notes – in a lecture, for example – if you want to remember what you're listening to.
- Handwriting also works well for thinking through ideas, such as organising a talk or presentation.
- Doodling pictures alongside your handwritten notes helps you retain information.
- Typing quickly is best for getting your ideas down before they escape from your mind.
- Typing helps the iterative process of writing – getting an idea down quickly and then going back to tweak and refine it.
His conclusion is that both handwriting and typing have their place – depending, broadly speaking, on whether you're trying to absorb knowledge or share it.
I don't know about you but I've moved away from making notes by hand. When I'm talking to someone on the phone (which works through my laptop) I often have to look at documents that are on the computer, and it's just more efficient to type notes on there too.
But maybe I should take Clive's advice and reach for a pencil when I've got some really hard thinking to do.