Ditch it or keep it: Can digital notebooks really replace the humble notepad?

Published by UCLan Centre for Collaborative Learning on

Author: Claire Ashworth – Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management, University of Central Lancashire

I am not afraid to admit that I am a stationery addict.

I like nothing more than perusing the aisles of a stationery shop, and always enjoy their selection of tactile notepads. My office contains multiple notepads, notebooks, jotters, adhesive pads and more – all with different designs, binding, size, and paper weights. Some are reserved for the fountain pen, whilst in others I prefer to use pencils. And then there are those in which I am not fussed what I use to graffiti their pages with.

I was recently introduced to the Microsoft To Do application. At first, I was attracted to its sound effects and the ability to create shared ‘to-do’ lists. However, the novelty soon wore off – and a few weeks on, I had forgotten I had it.

To Do reminds me when a colleague completes a task and notifies me on my mobile phone. I am prompted to look at my lists, and I do still enjoy ticking off tasks as I complete them. However, I need to have a notepad at arm’s length to jot down ideas, actions, tasks and of course, doodle.

What are the benefits of the application? Well, it works on my desktop and mobile device, meaning I can access it when I need to. It makes a cool noise when completing tasks (did I mention this already?) and is less distracting than a notepad – especially for all us doodlers out there! It can also remind you when something is due or overdue.

I consider To Do as midway point between a notepad and your Microsoft Outlook calendar, which is well suited to collaborative working. For example, a colleague and I share a work list and we can see when tasks are completed immediately. This has improved efficiency and prevented unnecessary emails or Microsoft Teams messages, as we can both see what has been completed in real-time.

But does it replace the notepad?

In short, for me – it does not. I think I will always prefer the notepad. I like the tactile nature and the ability to get the coloured pens and highlighters out and be creative (I know this is possible using other software applications!). What To Do offers is portability and access on dual devices – without the need to carry a bigger bag to accommodate a laptop, mobile, notepad and pens.

It is a personal choice, but for me, the humble notepad lives to save another day.

Sources of information

Photo by freephotocc on Pixabay

Categories: Productivity

1 Comment

Kevan Williams · February 22, 2023 at 10:36 am

A great little read that resonates so much with my lure towards the traditional. It emphasise for me the importance of providing guidance around both digital and non-digital solutions and how helpful and reassuring shared experiences can be.

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