Jeromy Anglim's Blog: Psychology and Statistics

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pen and Paper

For a long while I did almost all my thinking and writing either in my head or on the computer. More and more lately I find myself returning to pen and paper.

  • Statistical consulting discussions: Having a pen and paper to record key points or express key ideas acts as a shared workspace to discuss ideas. I'll take down the details of a study, draw arrows between key variables, record key points, and so on. It aids my working memory and the working memory of the client/researcher.
  • Mind Mapping: I find mind mapping a really useful tool for working through ideas. I use it a lot when planning a project, preparing to write something, preparing to analyse data, and so on. My version of mind mapping is more flexible than the formal method set out by Tony Buzan. And while I have found good and free software for drawing mind maps, The freedom of pencil and paper is greater. It just feels more natural.
  • Mindful preparation: I've recently been reading Robert Boice's book Advice for New Faculty Members. The book's main message is that balance and mindfulness provide a good orientation for doing things well and doing the right things. Part of this approach involves slowing the pace of thought and thinking through what comes next. Pulling out a pen and paper and planning the task ahead seems like a good strategy for slowing the mind and focusing on the task ahead.
  • Reading mathematics and statistics articles and books:  Having a pen and paper by my side while I read such books is essential to my own understanding. I copy down formulas, plug in some sample values, and have a play with them. I actively consume the material.

Perhaps all this is obvious. Perhaps everyone does this already. But for me, I had to remind myself that pen and paper is a powerful technology.

No comments:

Post a Comment