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With so much technology around us nowadays, it is difficult to imagine someone handwriting something, especially since many consider it an impractical, mostly useless skill in modern life. But perhaps we should not be so quick to dispense with the skill. Handwriting can help increase our productivity in several surprising ways, meaning the skill is far from obsolete and may prove more useful than simple typing.
Handwriting — particularly cursive writing — can improve motivation, make it easier to come up with ideas, improve memory and concentration, and unleash creativity. This can all help boost productivity. Handwriting may help slow cognitive decline as we age, meaning we can be productive for longer.
In the rest of the post, we’ll explore how handwriting can make us more productive. First, we’ll highlight the chief benefits we can derive from it.
Let’s jump in.
Advantages of Handwriting vs. Typing
Diehard fans of typing may want to know the upsides of developing good handwriting skills before abandoning them entirely. Here are the primary unique advantages.
Typing may be faster and more convenient but taking a little more time to make notes by hand helps improve both short and long-term memory. This is because putting things into our own words helps serve as an effective memory cue that helps us recall where, when, and even why we took the notes. Being able to remember the context in which we took the notes helps us make connections between various pieces of information.
Handwriting activates areas of the brain that play a role in thinking and working memory, which allows you to sort through, manage and store information. The movement of the hand across the page is one association the brain makes with the content of the notes, making it more likely that we will remember at least some of what we wrote for a long while.
Helps us develop our critical thinking skills
Handwriting gives us time to think more deeply about what we are committing to paper. This encourages us to think more critically and form connections between pieces of information. An effective way to make forming connections easier is to use different coloured ink to help sort information and organise our thoughts.
Skilled writers can spot relationships between abstract ideas and use them to come up with unconventional, imaginative solutions to problems. Handwriting facilitates this process. Without employing the skill of handwriting often, we may find it more difficult to divine meaning from words and phrases or work out their context.
Helps us get a better understanding
When we handwrite, it forces us to mentally engage with the material. Handwriting is slower than typing, meaning it’s difficult to write every word of a lecture, talk, or even to precisely copy out a chapter of a book. We therefore must process and summarise information so that we can make sense of it. This makes us think about it and deepens our understanding of the material we engage with. This contrasts with what often happens when we type. The speed and ease of this process means we may find ourselves mindlessly recording every word, and not engaging with the information enough to remember it, truly comprehend it, or apply it to our lives.
Improves cognitive function
Learning to produce legible handwriting helps improve reading fluency because it helps improve visual perception of letters, which helps increase confidence, particularly in those who are just beginning to learn to write. It also boosts cognitive function because the process of handwriting involves using more cognitive and motor skills than typing.
Can make it easier to learn something
Learning cursive writing makes each letter look unique, which will help children and others learn things, without having a hard time distinguishing between letters. It may also help decrease dyslexic tendencies.
Helps increase confidence
Writing is a form of self-expression. It gives us a glimpse into a person’s creativity. It is essential to develop handwriting skills to succeed in school, so developing them at an early age can help children become more confident and achieve their full potential.
Produces better writers
Handwriting is a vital element of written creativity. Having good skills in this area improves the fluency and composition of written pieces. If we learn to write at speed without great effort early in life, we are likely to develop into much better, more imaginative writers.
Now we’re aware of the key benefits we can derive from handwriting, how can it improve our productivity? It’s time to find out.
How Handwriting Can Boost Productivity
Here are 7 ways that developing good handwriting skills and using them regularly can help us become more productive.
We have a greater capacity for concentration
Handwriting requires concentration. It helps banish distractions and allows us to dig deeper into a topic. It leaves writers less room for procrastination, which we know can damage productivity.
Cursive writing helps us focus because:
- It is not an automatic activity, and we need to think about what we are doing and pay attention to be able to produce each individual letter.
- We must focus the entire time to produce each letter in the correct way. Over time, being able to focus on one thing for an extended period may increase our capacity to concentrate, which will help us work more efficiently and effectively.
Devoting some time to handwriting may prove a simpler way to beat procrastination than downloading a plethora of anti-procrastination apps. It may also be a cheaper way for us to achieve peace of mind.
It makes it easier to create mind maps
Creating mind maps is a fantastic way to come up with new ideas fast. We can do this faster if we note down random thoughts and ideas by hand. We can write unconnected, quirky, and strange ideas because handwriting breaks down creative barriers and will not threaten to become an automatic, mindless activity — which is sometimes the case with typing. If we are able to generate new ideas more easily, we might well see an uptick in our productivity.
It improves memory
As highlighted above, the act of handwriting helps boost recall. Cursive writing, especially, can help boost learning and memory. It can help us retain more new information so that we are better able to solve problems we face in our lives, whether they crop up at home or in the workplace.
This may be because writing things down and having to be selective about what we record forces us to engage more deeply with the material, and therefore we are able to remember it in more detail. Having a better memory and being able to use it to form creative solutions to problems can lead to increased productivity.
It may slow cognitive decline as we age
Handwriting has long-term advantages too. Indeed, engaging in activities of this nature also strengthens your mental fortitude. It can allow us to retain our mental sharpness as we grow older.
Most people overlook this long-term consequence of cursive writing, yet it is crucial if we want to maintain our mental agility after years of difficult work. It improves performance at work and delays the process of intellectual ageing.
It can boost motivation
Writing things by hand can help us feel more personally involved with the material and thus we become more engaged with it. It feels more unique to each of us, so we tend to put more care and effort into it.
Take a to-do list as an example. When we’ve written one by hand, it can feel like we are promising ourselves that we are going to work through the tasks on our list. Thus, we are more motivated to proceed as planned and are more likely to be persistent in the attempt to do so. Stronger motivation and persistence also increase our efficiency.
It can unlock our creativity
Handwriting encourages us to practice and improve our skills over time. Longhand writing has been shown to create more activity in the brain which makes it more likely that we will make connections between what may appear to be unrelated ideas. This happens each time we engage in any intellectual activity. Being able to establish relationships between different ideas so that they work together will foster our creativity and make us more productive.
The skill of handwriting is often side-lined in a world so full of technology, but it remains enormously beneficial and goes beyond helping to increase our productivity. We’ve seen that learning cursive can help improve our memory, hone our critical thinking skills, boost our motivation, and much else besides.
Why not try putting in the effort to sharpen your handwriting skills and see what difference it makes to your productivity? Drop us a comment to let us know how you get on!