Do You Have Something to Write With?

notebookSo much is possible with a pen and paper at hand. Ideas don’t get lost, time doesn’t get wasted, and information is easily shared. If I have pen and paper, I can list, sketch, mindmap, or write, wherever I may be. I can easily move from one mode to another without changing tools.

Yet I also love the clean display, backup, and easy duplication that digital tools offer, and much of what I write by hand eventually gets transferred to a digital format for safekeeping or later reference. One of the keys to working productively is figuring out which tools appeal to you and work well for you under specific circumstances. So even though I have a smartphone which I can use to jot down book titles, errand lists, or other miscellaneous information, there are many occasions on which I prefer to use pen and paper.

In some situations, writing with pen and paper is more discreet, particularly if you’re in a setting in which phones are frowned upon. If I’m in a hurry, or I’m trying to capture some information during a conversation, I find that I can write more quickly and accurately by hand, than typing (or Swyping) into my phone. And then, of course, there are times when I want to be able to jot something down and hand it to another person, rather than promise to email them the details.

If I’m carrying my bookbag or a large shoulderbag with me, then I’ll have a notebook and a fistful of pens at the ready. If I’m carrying a small bag or have decent pockets in my clothes, then I’ll at least have a pen and a couple of index cards (clipped together Hipster PDA style).

Paper is easy enough to fold up small and always carry with me. (Though remembering to take the index cards, tiny notebooks, or post-it notes out of my pockets before doing laundry is sometimes a challenge.)

Small pens can be a little more difficult to find, though Amazon and other online retailers carry the Pentel mini-ballpoints (with a handy hole in the cap so you can hang them on a keychain), a mini version of the Pilot retractable gel pen, and the chunky and colorful mini-markers from Sharpie.

But there are times when I don’t have a purse or pocket large enough for index cards and a small pen, but I still find myself wishing for pen and paper. PicoPads have been a great solution: these credit-card sized pads of mini-adhesive notes come with an ingenious micro pen tucked inside the fold of the cover. This isn’t a pen (or pad) that you’d want to write with every day, or at great length. But it’s a handy backup writing solution that can fit inside your wallet or tiniest pocket, and there have been several occasions when I’ve been grateful to have one within easy reach.

What’s your favorite portable writing device? Let us know in the comments!

[Creative Commons licensed image by flickr user D. Sharon Pruitt]

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