Handwritten Lists Better than Electronic Ones

Pens and paper

The act of writing a list helps me to remember what I need to do. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I lost my “To Do” list the other day. For some reason I decided to type my list on the computer but I had not saved it. I was rushing to my volleyball match and somehow lost the list. That never happens when I write my list on paper.

One other time I wrote my list on the computer. I discovered that I do not gain the same satisfaction deleting items from the list as I do when I physically cross the item off my list.

For me, the mere act of writing the list helps me to remember what I need to do and, more importantly, to prioritize the items. Turns out that writing things down, with your actual hands, is just plain better at getting you to remember and execute good ideas, according to an article in Fast Company magazine

I have even gone so far as to buy “special” notebooks for making lists. I started using small notebooks for lists when a colleague pointed out that I had 3 sheets of paper, all with different lists. Why, he asked, didn’t I put them in a notebook so I could keep better track of the lists. Ever since, I’ve carried a small notebook, which often doubles for taking notes at informal meetings.

One of my favorite notebooks only allows me to list two items and has pithy comments, such as “Today’s about quality not quantity” and “Today I will get some stuff done”. For me, only listing two items is nothing short of a miracle. Yet when I do this I can happily report that I always complete the assignments.

And after all, isn’t that the point of a list?

2 thoughts on “Handwritten Lists Better than Electronic Ones

  1. Louise Seals says:

    Even retirees need the satisfaction of crossing off completed tasks. When I feel overwhelmed with volunteer or household tasks, I post a paper list on the refrigerator and then cross off finished tasks with colored markers. It’s OK if the list stays up awhile as long as more color is added on most days.

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