Do you still handwrite notes?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: October 12, 2012

It's no grand secret that our mobile devices can do more than ever before. As I've expressed in every way I know how, high powered processors, endless lists of third-party applications and large, crystal clear displays come together to make our pocket-sized computers the perfect tools for work on the go and entertainment alike.

Because of this, smartphones and tablets have become integral parts of our lives. Each and every day, I relentlessly switch between my phones and tablets to do all sorts of things, such as: write articles, skim RSS feeds, take pictures, edit pictures, post pictures, watch videos, search Google, email, text and instant message, tweet, check Facebook, listen to music and play a few games. That's only the stuff I do every day. There are dozens of other features I make use of on a far less frequent basis.

Quite literally, if I can do something with a phone or tablet I will. I no longer physically set an alarm on a device dedicated to waking me up in the morning. I don't pull out the ol' laptop when I need to upload something to Dropbox to share with a friend. And I don't load up an iPod with all my music, I pull it all from the cloud or stream using Spotify.

But I see people all the time who aren't so willing to give up their analog devices. Despite the ever-broadening capabilities of the phones people carry in their pockets or tablets they have in their bags, I still see people carrying around pen and paper.

Just this afternoon, I witnessed my girlfriend sitting beside me in a coffee shop watching a video on YouTube using her iPad and handwriting notes in a notebook using her stylus-pen. I looked across the table at my friend and saw him sitting with his MacBook Pro, Motorola XOOM and a yellow legal pad with a pencil. I have witnessed our own Aaron Baker doing the same, and even saw a whiteboard in his office not too long ago.

I think what surprised me the most, though, was seeing someone from a print publication taking handwritten notes at a press event in September. There she was, a short lady with curly hair and glasses hunched down beside me with a pocket-sized notepad and a wooden pencil.

I can't even pinpoint the last time I used a pencil or a pen (except for when I jotted down the stuff above, specifically for this article). I take notes all the time – all day every day. I make notes everywhere, on everything … digital.

I will admit it's easier to handwrite some things, or to draw a diagram. But never will I reach for a piece of paper and a pencil. Ever. I can't stand writing by hand – I write painfully slow, bear down too hard and get hand cramps after a few minutes of writing. Not to mention, the information is non-transferable and paper is entirely too easy to lose. That's not to say my digital notes have never gone missing. But I learned from my mistakes and have a local backup of everything and two cloud backups. Any note I take is saved to multiple locations, made accessible from virtually anywhere in the world, from any device.

What I generally do to jot something down is pull out the iPhone and use iA Writer or Simplenote, or I'll use my Android device with Epistle. If I'm at a lecture or something where the notes may be a bit lengthier, I use my iPad and iA Writer. That's it. When I go to my computer, all the notes are there for my viewing pleasure.

Handwritten notes are a pastime, something I gladly bid farewell to when I bought my first smartphone. Even in high school, I convinced my teachers to allow me to take notes on my BlackBerry Curve 8330. I still took some notes by hand even into college. (Some of my professors required handwritten notes for use on tests and exams.) But any chance I got, I used some gadgetry to help take notes.

Oddly enough, though, I do remember handwriting some things when I used the original Galaxy Note. And I look forward to the Galaxy Note II and improved S Pen for this very reason. Being able to annotate screen captures and jot down a few quick things by hand on a gadget was a nice touch. And it's something I've missed since upgrading to the HTC One X.

So, ladies and gents, are you old school? Do you still handwrite your notes with a pen and paper? Or do you type your notes with your smartphone? Draw them on your tablet? How do you take notes?