Is Paper Better Than Digital Documents?

Updated: May 14



In the Age of Digital, why would we ever go back to use a notebook, steno pad, or journal?


Here are some strong Pros for using Digital paper.


The Cloud

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For starters, using the Cloud enables you to sync all of your information across your devices.


When you can type something out on one piece of digital paper and automatically pull it up on another device or send it to the printer with a couple taps on your phone–That’s HUGE. It screams of being efficient and immediately helpful.


What is the Cloud?

The cloud is similar to the term “internet”, but really it is the software or services that can be accessed and used via the internet rather than a standalone piece of software.


For instance, Google Docs is a cloud-based word processor offered by Google. You can type out and save a document using Google Docs without taking up that storage space on your own computer.


What’s more is that you have the ability to access that saved document anywhere you can access Google Docs, such as your smart phone, work computer, home laptop, smart tablet, and the list goes on and will likely be added to in the future.


What’s even MORE is that you can share that document to another co-worker for them to read over, edit, add comments to or share for their self all in real-time.


Without the Cloud

In contrast, in a non cloud-based word processor you would save that document to your computer’s storage. This would put some speed bumps in you and your co-worker’s neighborhood when you want to share that document quickly.


Instead of the recipient getting the document right away, you would save it in a format which the recipient can open, attach it in an email, send it, and wait for them to receive it.


From there, they could edit and comment but then they’ll need to email your edited document back to you, and you can begin to see how a cloud-based system works more seamlessly and efficiently.


Error Protection

Using digital paper helps create little receipts of everything you’ve done. So, when you are finished with the draft of a proposal and forward it (or if you’re using the Cloud–share it) with a co-worker to proofread, you won’t be in the wrong if you’re told that it never happened, because you have a proof of delivery or acceptance of a shared file right there.


You can go back and show where the email was sent or the Share request was sent. If you used physical paper, well–we all know it could get lost or damaged or never even make it into the hands and eyes of our recipient.


You cover yourself for errors better when you’re using a digital footprint that can be tracked. I use sticky notes to take phone call messages for folks around the office, but as soon as I’m done with that phone call I immediately transpose it into an email to send to the recipient. That way the message has every chance of making it to the recipient, and I don’t goof up by misplacing it or thinking I gave it to the correct person when in fact I did not.


Easily Organized

Another pro for using digital versus physical paper is the ability to stay neat and organized.


The fact is, I can type out a paragraph and make it perfect, even if it takes me 50 backspaces or I’m using autocorrect. But if I’m making those types of mistakes on physical paper, then I’ve created a real messy layout.

When you cross out, erase or whiten out inked words on physical paper, then it can get pretty messy looking really fast.


The fact is–you can waste time, resources, and energy by using physical paper.


Paper–Why Bother?

With this argument for digital paper why would anyone even consider the use of physical paper?


You can’t electronically send it, you can’t sync it, you can’t neatly fix it.


Before we throw it all into the Recycling Bin, let’s look at the question from a different perspective.


Before you set out to write a piece of content, do you consider the end goal?

What I mean is–

  • Are you attempting to get the most out of the lecture or speaker you’re listening to by retaining the information?

  • Are you attempting to unlock some creativity from writing?

  • Perhaps the document you write serves to help you think a little deeper and more intentionally?

Well, guess what–all of these efforts are strengthened by physically writing rather than digitally writing.


Think Deeper

It is well known that writing something out by hand increases your critical thinking skills. Your brain becomes sharper if you’re taking notes by hand, because you’re actually thinking of the most valuable information to write out rather than merely copying word for word every single thing you hear onto a device.


Writing it out enhances your brain’s ability to lock in on all the valuable nuggets of information you’re hearing!


Create More

Creative juices start flowing more, too.

The physical properties of writing can amp up your creative game. Notice when you are in the middle of writing an essay, taking notes, or jotting a grocery list that every now and then you begin to doodle?


Yeah–that’s part of your brain helping you connect with what you’re writing! You’re so smart.


Remember More

These properties help with memory retention, as well.


Next time you make a grocery list try drawing a quick picture of the bottle of ketchup you need rather than write it and see if you can remember better when you’re at the store.


On the safe side though, you better keep the list with you and double check before you leave.


Physical + Digital = Better

Though digital can be convenient, user-friendly and even enjoyable, it works best combined with it's physical counterpart (especially for the workplace.)


It always pays to have a backup copy on copy paper ( and vice-versa) just in case.


They say if it's not on paper it never happened. But you might as well use the smartest and fastest way possible to get it to the paper–Cloud system software!


Copier paper is part of the chemical makeup of most workplaces–even the "paperless" ones, and combined with Cloud-based or other digital software it's perfectly complemented.


Don’t Ditch the Paper

So, while we love the ease, functionality and user-friendliness of the digital world we can keep paper, notebooks, sticky notes, and doodle pads close by for thinking deeper, remembering better, allowing ourselves to be more creative and of course–printing.

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Personal Office Hack 🤔

Would we benefit from a creative-filled, memory-enhanced, thought-boosted day?


Here’s a personal office hack I think you will love.


This is what you’ll need: a journal, diary, notebook or jr. legal pad of some sort and the best pen you own (here's my personal favorite.)


  1. In the morning before you get started on your routine, pull out your notebook and pen and then put your thoughts on paper. They may be good, they may be negative. Write them down. Ask yourself, what’s been on my mind as I woke up or the past couple of days. Begin writing it out and let your brain continue thinking as you do.

  2. If you’re into doodling, let it happen. Let the creative juices begin working to warm up your brain for the tasks at hand that day. If you get in a routine of writing, it can truly enhance your productivity–what do you have to lose?

One way I do this is by combining it with my morning routine of reading through the Bible in a year (not doing well so far.) I write out notes in my journal area which happens to be in my Bible and it begins to sharpen my brain for the day!


Try doing a few minutes of writing in the morning and find the differences it makes in your day!

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Listen to this blog on Free Shipping! The Podcast, S1:E1 “Power Lines

How using a notebook can boost your productivity"

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