Paper Matters Blog
How to Increase Productivity: The Power of Paper

Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you want to achieve a goal, you need to write it down”?  It might sound cliché, but you’d be surprised by how accurate it is. There are countless apps, calendars and other tools designed to help you stay organized and remember important things. Everyone has their preference on the method they use for notetaking, to-do lists and reminders, but did you know that your brain actually holds onto information better after you’ve written it down?

It’s true.

Neuropsychologists have conducted several studies, like this one, that proves individuals demonstrate better memory for material they’ve created themselves than material they have only read. They call this the “generation effect” and it happens in two steps—first, when you create a picture of the thought in your mind and second, when you write it down. This is because you’re basically reprocessing the information twice while also recreating it, concluding that the best way to remember is to simply write it down on a piece of paper.

When we write, we are forced to think. It may be slower and more involved than simply typing (and there is no spellcheck), but writing helps encourage brain activity improving retention, reading comprehension and literacy.

6 Ways to Use Paper to Increase Productivity:

  1. Paper Calendars vs. Mobile Calendars

Paper calendars allow you to see the big picture while you’re making plans, helping you to create a more cohesive and detailed plan. Paper calendars also serve as a quick reference source. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 64% of employees say they prefer paper agendas and memos to digital communication.

  1. To-Do Lists & Checklists

Writing things down will make you more effective. It not only helps you remember what needs to be done, but lists also help keep you more accountable. Not to mention, the satisfaction you feel when you complete a task and are physically able to cross it off your list. Good ideas can be forgotten, but writing them down helps you re-visit, elaborate and develop your thought processes.

  1. Brainstorming

Using paper to brainstorm ideas has been linked to an increase in creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving. It’s also much easier to think outside the box and sketch out new ideas when using paper for better thought-provoking and visualization.

  1. Paper Books vs. E-books

Several small studies have shown that reading on paper instead of an electronic screen is better for memory retention and focus. Reading an e-book before bedtime can decrease the production of melatonin, a hormone that prepares the body for sleep.

The Pew Research Center study also determined that 66% of readers believe printed books offer a more unique and fulfilling reading experience than e-books. Children also learn better with paper books. Almost 90% of teachers and parents feel a child’s memory and language development is improved by reading 15 pages on paper every day.

  1. Improve Communication

Prepare for presentations on paper by using presentation scripting. While PowerPoint is expected at most presentations, writing your notes on paper will give you a deeper understanding of your speech and help you remember more of it. Your notes will also provide handy prompts during the speech itself and are a good fallback should the technology fail. Written communications are also easier to understand and can help you not repeat yourself as often.


  1. Use Flash Cards

Using flashcards not only provides a unique sensory experience, but also aids in learning and reading comprehension. Flashcards make learning easier by only focusing on the most important pieces of information, they’re portable, efficient and can be utilized for virtually any subject.

Want to learn more about how to increase productivity with paper? Check out the links below:

For additional resources on the power of paper, productivity and paper uses, visit

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