For over a decade, the three men in my life (1 husband and 2 boys) had urged me to shed my old-fashioned habit of dependence on hard form, on paper. They used the right trigger to work on my mindset- the environment-friendly angle. I am obsessive about recycling and reusing and so devise great ways to reuse paper so that I do not leave ugly footprints on the environment. With this background, I went for the change. I admit it made life easier in some areas. Here is where I made the transition and a few reasons why it didn’t work for me in some areas.
It worked very well:
- To write thoughts and reminders, To do list, make calendar entries, refer to notes, on the go jottings, during travel,
- Take running, handwritten notes in sessions, meetings, especially where sketches are required. My surface pro notebook fulfils this function of benefits of handwriting and drawing to perfection.
- Reading books on a Kindle is undoubtedly much more convenient, as it packs over a hundred books into a 5 x 7-inch case! Great travel mate as it saves baggage weight, space and money.
Here are some areas in which I still prefer good old paper.
1. Computer vision syndrome.
Some estimates say that over 10 million people visit eye doctors each year, for digital eye stress issues. This figure is only growing.
When it’s not very critical and you have the luxury, say for ongoing shopping lists, and even ‘to do’ lists, consider scratch pads. At the end of the list, take a photo, just in case the paper is not with you, for further action. On an average, a person blinks 18 times per minute. This is the designed automatic preventive maintenance schedule for our eyes. Working majorly on digital screen naturally reduces your blink rate, as it requires you to focus. This means the natural lubrication does not happen and it results in digital vision related syndromes.
2. Figures and dates for quick reference and action.
Online payments, transactions that require a follow-up, working on excel sheets is done on the media. The critical booking ids, data and figures that require follow up or referencing in a meeting could be noted in the diary, under the date for easy recall. This way, the number of times you need to open the digital media reduces considerably. Even given that it is properly stored, to access and take the figure takes time and at least 3 to 4 minutes on the computer. Notes while on the phone are particularly cumbersome to take on the same media. Paper makes it easier.
3. Notes and data for Chronological storage
The good old diary habit is still very valuable to me. More times, I’ve found the important data in my diary, as its chronologically stored. Follow up to another date also is quicker and easier. If other staff members are involved in storing documents, it takes a long while to locate data, unless you are very confident of your staff’s capabilities and compliance to procedures.
4. Meeting Notes
In a meeting, using digital media for notes simply appears rude. Despite your explanation to them, it may reduce your credibility in the attending group. They do not know when you are with them, and may doubt that you are fully engaged as your body language is not in alignment with your talk. Engagement levels are lower as eye contact is reduced. There is a risk of being excluded from non-verbal communication from the group. It’s poor etiquette. Importantly, we could miss out on body language cues. Albert Mehrabian’s study says that 93 per cent of our communication is non-verbal. Missing out on intra team body language cues isn’t a great idea.
It’s easier to get distracted by a notification pop up message and takes your focus off the meeting.
5. Statistics and calculations:
Excel sheets are great for ‘in the process working’. I still prefer hard copies of critical data and like to refer to hard copies for understanding, review and decision making.
Each one of us has our own internal representational system (predominantly using one or more of our five senses to interpret and respond to the world). I am visual – kinesthetic and so, figures told to me don’t stick in my mind as much as seeing the data. For instance, I find it difficult to envision and correlate what happened in column 3 of the previous sheet and how it changes the last row on the current sheet. Call me numerically challenged, or whatever!
Everything we do and speak happens twice. Once in our mind, and the second time in reality. Since I am a visual kinaesthetic, I prefer to sketch graphics and write my thoughts and ideas on paper. There is automatically a much better energy exchange and it’s a more efficient way to put ideas in action. I used to marvel at some fellow students in school who simply listened to the teachers and could recollect every detail, verbatim, especially since I kept meticulous notes and often ended up with aching fingers at the end of a class. Till date, once I write something, I find it easier to recall the details or learning. Check what your internal representative system is and take a call.
7. Reading the Newspaper
Peripheral vision is what you can see around the main area that you are focussing on. On a digital media, you can read only what appears on the screen. In a newspaper, a lot of interesting news could catch your attention and be to your advantage. You cannot search for such news items as you don’t know of their existence! It takes upward of 45 mins to read the daily newspaper and most days, I have at least 2 or 3 calls to action points drawn from my reading. This is the case, I presume for millions of people over the world who still prefer the hard format of a newspaper over reading headlines on an app. Printing newspaper is still the norm, all over the World.
8. Reading books
Being Kinesthetic, I love the crisp touch and also the fragrance of a new book. Books and paper have a different level of energy and the energy exchange is awesome. Reading is a leisure and learning activity to me and I would like to make it less stressful, to my eyes and posture. Physical bookmarks in the book facilitate going back and forth to a certain page, especially for making summary notes and learning.
Interestingly, my eyes don’t hurt even if I read a hard copy for two hours. They do hurt if I am on a digital gadget for 20 mins at a stretch and need to rest them, as I must and will, for now!
Write to me about your paper story at firstname.lastname@example.org