The Morning Ritual of Pen and Paper

Have you ever found yourself in the situation, where you start out your day with some thoughts about what you’re going to do, but the moment you switch on your computer, you suddenly find that you’ve forgotten what exactly you were supposed to do.

And so you sit there feeling rather lost and confused.

Do you get that? Does it happen a lot to you?

I get that a lot.

It is as if my computer monitor emits amnesia rays that wipe out one’s short-term memory immediately upon exposure.

And then I waste the next hour or so trying to reconstruct or remember everything that was on my mind, with a certain feeling of confusion and helplessness, like a lost child in a crowded marketplace.

It’s terribly frustrating.

Not too long ago, I read an article about developing a good habit of starting the day by transferring everything from one’s mind onto paper.

I think, this should be done before turning on one’s computer.

The author recommended spending at least 10-20 minutes, writing everything that comes to one’s mind, without worrying about organising or structuring the contents of one’s thoughts. It can be in the form of bullet points, mind maps or even prose.

What matters is that you are able to flush everything out of your head, onto paper.

I’ve been experimenting with this for some time now, and I must say that it really helps me out a lot!

As a morning routine and ritual, I now start the day, making myself a cup of coffee, and return to my desk with the computer still turned off. I’ll put my phone aside far away from me, take out my journal and begin writing away.

Pen and paper.
Nothing like a good pen and paper to make the writing process a lot more pleasurable.

At the end of this writing exercise, I’ll switch on my computer, and type out everything I wrote, categorising them as tasks to do for the day (or week), or as notes for future reference (and for ease of searching).

If I find myself feeling lost and confused due to the amnesia rays coming from my computer monitor (no, I don’t seriously think there’s amnesia rays coming out of my screen – I’m just joking), I can always refer to the notes I wrote in the morning, and in a matter of minutes, I’m back in action.

I’ve since extended my pen-and-paper only exercise from 20 minutes to an entire hour each day. It seems to me that I write and develop ideas better this way too.

My hour-long ritual of pen and paper now involves writing lengthy pages of ideas (and sometimes blog posts like this).

Yes, there are many distractions on the computer. But I think the presence of the backspace button really alters the way one thinks. The temptation to hit the backspace (or delete) button brings about constant and abrupt halts to one’s thoughts. Ideas don’t flow smoothly from one’s mind to the keyboard.

Whereas, with just a pen and paper, not only are the distractions minimised, but the very absence of the backspace button compels one to chew on an idea first before transferring it to paper.

And when the idea is properly developed, the idea flows from one’s mind onto paper as smoothly as the ink flows from my pen.

Sure, this sounds like I’m re-discovering the invention of fire. But for someone who’s been overly reliant on technology, and have placed great faith for years in the power of technology to do away with the traditional methods, it is truly amazing and bewildering to realise that till now, nothing quite beats the good ol’ pen and paper.

Isn’t it ironic that despite our great advances in technology, no technological solution out there functions quite as well as pen and paper?