As sophisticated as technology has become, some things – at least for me – are still better done with paper and pencil. Pen will work, too, but for some things, like math, it's still pencil.

Note-taking, for example. I see a lot of people at some meetings who type everything into their tablets. I suppose that works for them or they wouldn't be doing it. I've tried it a few times, and it doesn't work for me. It also doesn't work when I'm taking notes on reading. I can't have a book open and type on a device. Even an e-book.

If I had to say, it's the slower process, the process that integrates the manipulation of physical objects, the process of making connections immediately across the visual field of a page without the mediation of software – as simple a thing as drawing a line – that cements ideas in my brain.

Also, the inefficiency of working on paper turns out to be an advantage. Eventually, I'll need to go back through what I've done in a way that digital work doesn't need to be revisited. Invariably, returning to my notes gives me the chance to re-think. Sometimes it reinforces an idea. Sometimes what seemed like a good idea at the time on second thought was not so good. Sometimes, it reconnects past ideas with current ones.

Finally, having an actual thing – a thing I'll have to keep moving around and taking up space within my real world until I do something about it – forces me to deal with whatever I've been writing down. A digital file easily gets lost deep in a forest of forgotten folders. (I've found digital notes years later I didn't know I had.) For people who are comfortable with clutter, this might not matter. But I seem to have a low enough tolerance for clutter that I don't end up with piles of old paper. When a pile gets more than an inch high the discomfort of its presence forces me to action.

So I carry small notebooks to meetings. And I keep a small pile of scrap paper with a couple sharpened pencils in the drawer next to my chair.

I love technology. But there's still something about the pungent smell of a freshly sharpened pencil that makes ideas feel more alive.