given the success I've had over the past year with pen-and-paper calendars and pen-and-paper todo lists and pen-and-paper notetaking (on usually physical books), I wonder what other productivity tasks I've been lying to myself about being automatically better if you do them on a computer 🙃

I sorta grew up *just as* these kinds of tasks were becoming at first possible, then common, then almost obligatory to do digitally, and the propaganda at that time was that digital was always better, and that kids these days are going to do everything on the computer. so it wasn't until recently that I questioned that

at the same time, I can't tell if the reason keeping a pen-and-paper calendar is like fifty times less frustrating and more satisfying for me than using (e.g.) google calendar is (a) pen-and-paper is actually better (b) calendar software is actually awful and/or (c) it is now impossible to use a computer except as a greasy portal to a capitalist hellscape

@aparrish My biggest problem with physical media is losing the things involved. What I want is to be able to summon my notebooks and stuff.

@aparrish thing i like about paper calendar is i can see at a glance how much churn there was for a week, which is a good proxy for "how tired did i make myself". also i can fit 4 things in a day on paper, which is about as many schedule items as i can deal with.

@aparrish I’ve seen articles on the science about how many people are much more tactile learners. It apparently often extends into many practices, from reading physical vs digital books, handwriting notes instead of typing, etc. So this totally makes sense.

@chartier @aparrish Writing on a typewriter is so very different for me to writing on a computer - even one that is off-line / emacs in the console etc. Can’t be replicated. On the other hand org-mode suits me better than anything on paper (though this is because I write in emacs as a compromise as don’t have the time to re-write etc.)

@aparrish I keep trying to look for good alternatives, but I think the sheer instancy of modifying/deleting multiple (types of) details by hand is what has me using pen and paper more

@aparrish the only good thing about electronic calendars is the ability to share.

@aparrish Preach it. I've been getting back into BuJo for similar reasons.

@aparrish I decided I didn't want Google to know about my doctor's appointments, but I did want a calendar on my phone, so now I'm using fruux

@aparrish If you ever lose that paper calendar or need to share your schedule with someone else you will see the value of an online calendar.


Its amazing how much peace of mind I have when the majority of organization is done by my brain manually outside a phone or desktop

My brain enjoys computing the details and it remembers more when it's making it all itself at human processing speed.

I'm also able to organize the info for how I uniquely perceive, so it's much more effective and fun!

@Food I think what's been interesting for me is how much the fact that the information has *a physical place* helps me to remember it. like when I know which pocket of my bag the notebook that has the information I want is in, and I can picture the page that written on, it's so much easier to remember (without even having to get the notebook out). despite all of the physical metaphors of digital interfaces, file systems, etc. I just never get that same feeling


Human brains are so much more capable to form into more complex patterns than currently actualized technology

Because of the lack of sensory stimuli and ultimately the simplification of a perception, I often can't remember digital things as well because there's just less sensory information and feedback.

It's a world that doesn't stimulate me as much as the blank notebook in my pocket with to do lists, also an infinite window into my minds spacetime instead of a mirror


Example when I use a calendar software I would have to think like the software to be able to navigate it effectively

I usually don't think anywhere near what programs think I think like and suffered a mind dysphoria because of it.

Now that I'm in my paper calendar on the wall, lists of goals on my walls, map of my city on the wall, to do lists on daily morning wakeup sheets of freewrite and listmaking, all dated and organized chronologically, I am much more at home

@Food @aparrish

I wonder if I just haven't found the subthread here yet where somebody mentions the memory palace technique.

@Food @aparrish

Which is to say, this conversation is amazing, capturing the ... flavor, at least for one big class of things for which computing fails me, and paper works.

Though some things org-mode does I find useful, it's often a struggle, and its date-related stuff has so far never clicked for me. All the more frustrating given it seems to work for some people.

@Food @aparrish

A focus on timestamps, call it the tyranny of timestamps, stands just so ... inimical to flow. Each becomes a chokepoint around how I think about and *in* time.

@Food @aparrish

@Food @aparrish

(On the other hand, pounding out prose on a physical keyboard into some document buffer has no compare. Such a win, to free write when the words are there and the challenge is to get them *out*, to give them flesh. Paper, by comparison, is excruciating, and thumbing this in as I am now on a soft keyboard across the bottom of my tablet, also not great.)

I've been a big fan of paper capture with computerized backups and alerts.

(So, like, I write stuff down and then twice a week or so I add the stuff that's far enough in the future that I'll forget it to my digital calendar, so I get a reminder.)

That way, I can effectively retire a notebook as soon as it's full, rather than trying to carry two.

But yeah, the merits of physicality are often underrated.

@ajroach42 @aparrish The only way to tell if it's the awfulness of Google Calendar or something special about paper is to try using org-mode for about a year.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 as far as I can tell the only thing org-mode really does is make people suggest it to me every time I mention anything even vaguely adjacent to calendars or todo lists

@aparrish @garbados At the risk of shilling I really like my notebook that assists taking pictures and saving digitally. Handwriting things helps me a lot for remembering and understanding, but it’s awful for me to go back and find things.

@aparrish Probably most of them, tbh. The only things I've found that are superior to do on a computer are managing large amounts of data, dynamic mathematical calculations, and lists that you expect to change frequently.

And that last one, if you have a big enough wall and use small post-its for your list items, physical works fine too.

@aparrish I'm still kind of 50/50 between pen-and-paper and digital.

Grocery and small to-do lists? Pen and paper wins out. Simplicity, easy to grab + take with you to the store and not worry about dropping/fumbling around unlocking an electronic device.

Calendaring, though? If I didn't set a bajillion screaming alert notifications on my phone for every important thing, I wouldn't have a *chance*. ;) But that's just me, personally.

We still keep + update a paper calendar with big stuff.

@aparrish I like the part where it's much harder for Google to get your schedule from a piece of paper. I'm doing google calendar again now and every time I add an entry it makes me sad, I had my own calendar server with nextcloud but I broke it at some point and haven't made it work again yet, paper seems like a good idea (or maybe org mode)

@aparrish yeah it's really all person-to-person. I won't ever pick up a pencil or a pen, but make something start beeping at me if I forget something and I'm set.

@aparrish I do almost all of my fiction writing with a pen and paper. I can always find a way to get distracted no matter what medium I’m using, but it’s way easier not to have built-in gaming temptation, and nothing beats a notebook for portability and versatility.

@aparrish It is refreshing to hear this. I have a photographic memory and it works better in the physical world than digital. I agree with others replying that I need to add my entry as the program wants it. There is no other option. Pen and paper, I can write it in anyway I want and will store it as a mental picture to recall at a later time. I think I'm going to give this a try.

@aparrish As a professional journalist since 1970, I take my notes on a computer mainly because I can type much faster than I can write by hand, and unlike a typewriter the computer keyboard is relatively quiet.

The biggest benefit I got from transferring some items of my productivity toolbox from digital to the good old pen&paper alternatives is the versatility of the physical option.
I try around with different ways to organize items and take notes and it's pretty easy for me to tell what works for me and what doesn't.
A digital tool often comes with a methodology and best practices. They don't always fit with the way I'm used to work.

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