I discovered something during my last attempt to computerize my to-do lists: When I write something by hand, I’m more likely to remember it, and remember more about it, than if I’d typed it. When I moved to the iPad and Omnifocus for GTD, I immediately felt disconnected from my work. I didn’t feel like I was seeing the whole picture, and that there were loose ends that weren’t being taken care of.
While some of it had to do with the way the software works, and the cracks that items can fall into with some combinations of settings, I determined that a lot of it had to do with the view of the reminder not matching my memory of the note when I made it. This created a feeling that the reminder wasn’t quite right.
When I write a note, I remember what else was on the page, the ink color, etc. When I see the reminder later it looks familiar because it looks like it did when I wrote it. In Omnifocus, what’s on the screen when you write a task item is totally different than the many ways you might look at it later. The rest of the cues aren’t there so it seems like a counterfeit. This created a bit of dissonance.
I might have gotten used to this in time, but a few missed items is all it takes to ruin a day (or a week, or a month) so I went back to paper.
This would be a good place to note that the folks at Omni were more than happy to give me a refund, per their guarantee on their site – you have 30 days to try the app or your money back. Since it was $40, that was nice.
Typing is better for writing
Handwriting works better for things like notes and reminders, but for production it’s different. I type faster than I write, like most people. When I know what I want to say (mostly) and need to get it down on paper, typing is the way to go. I’ve drafted a few blog posts in pen and pencil, and it’s ok, but it’s faster for me to do it on the computer. I think I’m also convinced that freewriting is also better done on the computer, because it’s both faster and easier to read. Freewriting encourages speed, which tends to kill some neatness 😉 I need do some more to be sure.
Back to handwriting for ideas
On the other hand, if I’m playing with concepts, brainstorming, or trying to work out a problem then a pen or pencil works better than typing. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason I tend to treat what I’ve typed as being more permanent than what I’ve handwritten. I’m more likely to cross out items and rewrite, or ask rhetorical questions when writing than typing.
Which works better for you?