Paper Hacks

WHY LEARNING WITH PHYSICAL TEXTBOOKS IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN WITH A SCREEN

The next time you reach for your laptop to read lesson notes, consider these benefits of learning with a pen and paper.

1. Handwriting trains the brain

Jotting down notes on the blank margins has its benefits. Using MRIs, researchers found that writing by hand helps with learning letters and shapes, and can improve idea composition and expression. That’s to say that if you’re learning a language like Chinese, writing the characters by hand enhances recognition.

2. Paper limits distractions

As Lifehack’s Dustin Wax put it, "The tried and true tool of choice for tens of generations of monks, philosophers, and scribes, pen and paper are still a valid choice when you need to focus."

With pen and paper, the opportunities for distraction are far more limited. Compare daydreaming and doodling against the never-ending stream of notifications that are fighting for your attention.

3. Be less likely to get computer vision syndrome

Prolonged reading and exposure to light emitted from the screen of e-readers causes computer vision syndrome—temporary symptoms like headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision. While not fatal, it’s the last thing you want to deal with when you’re focusing on your studies.