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Women at Work: Handwritten tasks still have a place in a digital era

July 15, 2018

During the course of the summer, there are quite a few days that one, two, three or more of my children “hang out” with me at work.

This week, my 8-year-old son has graced my presence, and rather than let him sit around and eat ice cream, I put him to work. He is fully capable of carrying three-gallon tubs of ice cream, putting away smoothie inventory, and filling various buckets that hold sugars, stir sticks or spoons.

Wednesday was a rather slow day, the ice cream was stocked, Jenga was neatly stacked on a table, and he needed something to pass the time. As I was working on my laptop, I saw a pen and paper sitting there, so I suggested he write a letter. Old-school style — just write a letter. So, he put pen to paper and wrote to his cousin, Edith. Do you remember the joy of getting a handwritten letter as a youngster? Do you enjoy receiving one nowadays? Has doing things old school gone completely out of style that we do not even remember how tasks are completed by hand?

Of course, with all of life’s conveniences, particularly at work, it is easy to forget how tasks used to be completed back in the “old days.” On the business side of life, I cannot imagine how strange it would be to not be able to check my sales reports from home on my laptop and not have to get my calculator out. The innovations to us are countless, but the fact remains, there are tasks out there warranting old-school techniques.

For instance, an address book. Do you still keep a handwritten address book? It is certainly convenient to have all this information contained in your computer or cellphone that is accessible across several devices (as a Mac user, this capability is happiness to be sure). What happens when your phone falls in the toilet or your computer comes down with a virus? I guarantee you will wish you had kept an old-fashioned, handwritten address book containing addresses, phone number, email addresses and other pertinent information.

How many of you own a Kindle or an e-reader of some sort? Do your eyes ever get tired of reading on a screen in the dark? Have you forgotten the paper-and-glue originals we call books? Pick up a book, turn the pages and get lost in an actual book.

My favorite, of course, is keeping a calendar that you actually write on. Just the other day I asked my daughter for her next two weeks’ work schedule. She quickly pulled out her phone, screen-shotted the month of July and sent me a jpg. It was pretty slick, I tell you! But for me? I keep an old-school calendar on the counter in the kitchen with all events and appointments pertaining to the kids, and I keep a paper calendar in my purse with kid and adult events. You should try it because, let’s face it, Facebook doesn’t remind you of everything. And, if you have “dinner with grandma” written in hot pink Sharpie on your calendar, it is more difficult to bail on her than when you are just swiping her to the right.

To tie it back to my son writing a letter to his cousin Edith, is writing or receiving handwritten notes at work. For years, I kept a note on my bulletin board written to me from my boss (granted he spelled my name incorrectly, but it was the thought that counted). Setting that aside, there is nothing more valued than a handwritten thank-you note that is genuine.

It’s the personal touch that matters.

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