The balance between a Tablet PC and Pen / Paper

Rob150Om Malik has a great post on breaking away from the computer with just a notebook, a pen, and his BlackBerry ( just in case ), and it got me thinking about the balance of Tablet PCs with the need to still take notes on paper.

As some might have already figured out, I’m really big on digital notetaking. I’ve been using Tablet PCs since they were introduced four years agp. I believe in the platform and totally rely on OneNote 2007 to take digital notes that I can go back and search. Being able to sign PDFs on the fly without the need of a printer and fax, navigating the computer with a pen, marking up text that I need to work on, generating mindmaps with my pen and ink – a person would be hard pressed to find any negatives about a Tablet PC. In fact, in my opinion and that of many others, utilizing a Tablet PC is almost all about positive productivity.


All of that said, there are many times I actually prefer paper-based notetaking over taking notes with my Tablet PC. For example, when I don’t want to be distracted with technology or don’t want to distract others with my technology, I’ll leave my Tablet PC behind. As much as I have tried using my Tablet PC in church, I have found that I actually enjoy worship more when I just use my regular Bible and paper-based notebook. In my spare time, I enjoy writing and find I do some of my best brainstorming when I sit down with a regular pen and paper-based notebook. Currently, I’m feeling overwhelmed with a lot of back-logged projects and find that I operate better when I remove as much technology as possible from my mind. There is value in not worrying about pressing Start, OneNote, New Page and flipping a screen around, or worry about vectoring issues when writing on a touch tablet. Many times, the value is in just getting what is in your mind out on paper and not worrying about how you are going to do it. Yes – technology, in my opinion, does create some barriers to actually working productively and getting a grasp on everything around you. On my desk right now is a Moleskin notebook with a list of everything I have to do this week. My P1610 Tablet PC is in my backpack, and it will likely stay there all week. 

You will never hear from me that digital notetaking can and should take the place of paper-based notetaking. It hasn’t in my life and likely won’t. The value and balance of a Tablet PC solution is in making the technology work for you, when you need it and how you want to use it. The value it brings to the table is in offering a person more flexibility in how they choose to work given their needs, desires, and unique work styles. Having that flexibility doesn’t mean an all or nothing scenario in regards to paper-based notetaking. It means a person now has more choices to adapt their work style to their current needs, and that is definitely a good thing.