A Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard

When was the last time you received a hand-written thank you note? A love letter? A holiday card that wasn’t a printed family newsletter? What about the last time you wrote a postcard from vacation? Or tucked a note into a family member’s lunch box?

Something experiential happens when we write with pen and paper that gets lost in our digital world. Your thoughts slow down when your hand, the ink and your brain need to get in sync. You are more deliberate and engaged in your writing, and less likely to become distracted. You are directing an activity with your own thoughts; bringing new ideas and information into existence. There is something tangible and tactile in writing longhand that just isn’t the same in the repetition of typing

I’ve always been a fan of journal and taking notes longhand. I collect blank notebooks, hoard stationary and keep a paper calendar. I write out goals and dreams in lists, plan vacation packing lists and activities with a clipboard and blank paper. Carving out the time to sit down, to think and engage with what you want to say elevates an activity from a task to something of importance.

How does this make a difference at work? Imagine a one line thank you email to a team compared to a handwritten note acknowledging your unique contributions to a specific piece of work. They might take about the same time, but have exponentially different impacts.

Not sure the lost art of cursive really matters? Try this simple exercise: think of a word you’d like others to use as a way to describe you. Compassionate. Adaptable. Strong. Badass. Now write it down, with a pen or pencil, on paper.

· I am compassionate.
· I am adaptable.
· I am strong.
· I am a badass.

Hopefully, you felt a confidence boost that comes from your brain telling your hand to write those sentences. Now imagine writing down your goals and dreams. There’s a commitment that comes from writing something in ink, a promise to yourself to take action, to think about how to go get what you want. The pen is mightier than the sword, and thinking about what you’re communicating – and how you do it – can have impacts lasting much longer than today’s typical group text messages.

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