5 Ways Pen & Paper are more Powerful than apps!

Yesterday an article in Fast Company offered 5 times when you want to use paper over apps. I’m quoted in the article and I have a few additional thoughts to share with you.

Working with paper makes sense whenever it’s faster, allows you to focus, or is more fun. Paper also makes it harder to forget, and can elevate something from casual to formal.

If you only have a short list, a simple calendar, or a small number of contacts to keep track of, paper is faster and easier. You can grab a pen and paper and write out a few words much faster than you can open your digital device, locate the app/program and type in those same few words. Retrieving the info is also quicker, just a glance at the paper or page. Another advantage — a single piece of paper is more portable than even the smallest device.

Paper doesn’t go to sleep or run out of power as a digital device can. You can always see a piece of paper on your desk (or a Post-it on your screen!) so the task or reminder is harder to forget. Using a special journal or notebook for your most important to-do lists allows you to quickly find those items and gives you the satisfaction of being able to cross out what is completed.

If you want to focus and remove distractions, paper options are much better. Research shows people learn more and remember more when they read physical books rather than digital ones, and that taking notes by hand instead of on devices improves understanding and memory. When working on a complex project, writing out an important speech or fine-tuning a presentation, you will benefit from the focus paper tools allow. If you need to go deep, don’t go digital.


If paper tools are fun for you, if they “spark joy," then use them. You will be more consistent and persistent in using tools you like. If you love the beauty of stationery products, the feel of writing by hand with a fountain pen, or the satisfaction of filling a page, paper is the way to go. 

One other occasion to go with paper? When you want to be formal. Compare your reaction to an electronic evite arriving in your inbox versus a paper invitation arriving in your mailbox. How do you feel about a quickly texted “thanks” versus a handwritten card? Using pen and paper to convey our thoughts and emotions gives them more weight and substance. Paper invitations signal a more formal event than evites.

Despite the promise of paperless living, there are still good reasons use paper!

What’s your favorite use for pen and paper?