Friday, November 04, 2011

Today's BlogHer prompt: When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?

It depends. For 'academic' writing, definitely computer. If there's a certain volume of material, it's just so much faster and efficient. I learned to type when I was a kid (on the PAWS program, back in the days of 5 1/2" floppies!), so I'm a quick typist (my students used to be in awe of me!).

But for certain creative things, nothing beats an actual writing utensil. If I need to work something out, like a creative idea or something, the tactileness (is that a word?) of holding a pen or pencil helps me think. Trying to type a creative idea feels colder, more impersonal, less easy to flow. And I do love me a list! I use the notepad feature on my iPhone, but it's definitely lacking in the ability to cross things off. (Obviously there are more apps for that, but eh, seemed like too much work to find the right one and make it work.)

I'd been thinking about organization lately. When I started at this job a year ago, I used a white legal pad. I'm almost through my third one now. But it wasn't very organized. Sometimes I made lists, sometimes I took notes from meetings or calls, I wrote phone numbers occasionally. It never felt very happy, organization-wise. A few weeks ago I finally felt frustrated enough to start thinking about other options.

Happily, I asked a colleague while on a work trip, and she showed me her planner. It's this one from Staples. Do you see the genius of it? The left side has a space for each day, but the right side is all notes. It's fantastic! We went to Staples and I found one on sale since it's already the end of the year, planner-selling-wise. I've been using it for a few weeks, and I love it! I make a list each day, and I check off my tasks as I complete them. I have space for notes during the week, about projects or ideas or what have you. My colleague uses earlier dates to take longer notes and then makes a 'table of contents' at the front. So on a team call, she dates the page and takes notes, and then marks that meeting at the front. Pretty smart, but I don't think I have a need for that quite yet.

Anyway, the pen/pencil/real writing factor makes my work life very clean, very easy, and very satisfying!

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