A hard lesson learned, and why I still like pen and paper

I’m writing about a difficult lesson learned this week. I’m not writing to convert anyone or to try to share a method.  I’m just sharing my rather painful and frustrating experience.  

I am in all facets of my life a maker of lists.  Probably has something to do with my need to visualize things to be able to encode them.   I like using all sorts of writing implements/markers/colors/annotations to make them visual memory-joggers.  My desk is littered with my list-making tools.  It is part of the teacher’s accoutrements I can’t do without.

 I have lists for things I am working on here at work; sorted into various columns of importance (ongoing, urgent, today, long-term, ideas, etc…)
I have lists at home to track my family’s activities. 
I have grocery lists,
lists for the discount food store,
lists for the home-improvement store,
the list goes on.

 I keep a journal on my desk for the sole purpose of taking daily notes about things I learn from Twitter and other web interactions…things that stand out and stimulate my thinking.  (It really is fun to look at this over weeks and months).  

I started a year and a half ago making a sincere attempt to do away with/replace the paper lists with OneNote – to be set a good example for colleagues of using my available technology to be more organized and efficient.  I like OneNote for creating various notes folders for everything from conferences I attend complete with urls to info/resources presented in sessions, to meeting notes of all kinds.  It’s a great tool to prep for meetings, where you can keep continual agendas going anytime.  And it (is supposed to) auto-save(s).  I liked feeling like I was using my technology and cutting down on what I needed to print by saving to the OneNote notebooks.  It really is a great tool since it is integrated with all other MS Office apps I use regularly.  Well, during the process of migrating to a new computer I lost all of my OneNote notes…all year-and-a-half’s-worth.  I’ll spare you the gory details. Just suffice it to say that I did not do a good enough job of following up to make sure I had all of my belongings from the old machine before I gave the green light for its repurpose/reimage.  By the time I realized that the notebooks had not survived, it was too late. 

 So, I start over.  Okay, before you start pointing out that I could have/should have been using some cloud app, consider that I might have lost the e-notes just as easily stored somewhere else.  So, what’s my ‘take home’? 

 I don’t know that I’ll give up my pen and paper any time soon….for something cloud-y or otherwise.  I have though, been exploring uses of digital ink/visual note-taking in teaching and learning and am very intrigued with some of the possibilities.  It might just make me a better note-taker/list maker all around both on paper and otherwise.  A striking thing I have learned already is that to be a good visual note-taker requires that you be a good listener.  Take a look at suggestions from Sunni Brown.  I like this, especially the ‘truisms’ for good listening!  I think it’s a pretty good place to re-start construction of new notebooks.