How to change from being messy to neat

This article was co-authored by Ashley Moon, MA. Ashley Moon is the Founder and CEO of Creatively Neat, a virtual organizing and life coaching business based in Los Angeles, California. In addition to helping people organize their best life, she has a fabulous team of organizers ready to de-clutter your home or business. Ashley hosts workshops and speaking engagements at various venues and festivals. She has trained with Coach Approach and Heart Core for organizing and business coaching respectively. She has an MA in Human Development and Social Change from Pacific Oaks College.

There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Tackling a very messy room can seem stressful and overwhelming at first. However, the sooner you get onto it, the better you will feel! Organize the clutter into separate piles and then work on neatly putting away each group of items. Thoroughly dust and vacuum the room once it’s tidy to remove any dirt and to help it sparkle. To keep the room organized, try to clean up as you go about your day and spend a bit of time each night tidying before you go to sleep.

I’ve seen all sorts of handwriting styles, large and small. Messy handwriting reveals many things about a person as well.

People write with pen and paper much less than they did before. So, you might say that messy handwriting isn’t a concern for teachers, friends, and employers. The popularity of technology has transformed the way we create stories and complete assignments. Whether professional or creative, our writing is mostly digital.

However, some people still pick up that pen, and when they do, their personality shines through their handwriting.

Messy handwriting and what it may reveal

My son writes in the messiest way. Sometimes you can’t even read what he’s written. He is left-handed, but that has nothing to do with it. In fact, I’ve asked him to switch hands, but it just gets worse. What does this say about my son?

We’re going to explore that and other characteristics he may share with others. So, what does messy handwriting say about your personality?

1. Intelligent

I can surmise that messy handwriting has a lot to do with more than average intelligence. What’s the proof? Well, my son remained in accelerated classes during his entire education. His grades dropped during regular classes because he was bored with the curriculum. He is smart and his handwriting is definitely messy, as I’ve mentioned before.

If your handwriting is messy, it could be that you have higher intelligence. If you’re not sure of your child’s intelligence level, maybe you can have them tested. Pay attention if you do have an intelligent child and notice if they have a messy sort of handwriting.

I will mention this, however, there are a few studies which suggest the opposite, that neat handwriting is linked to higher intelligence, so keep that in mind.

2. Emotional baggage

Many people who have messy handwriting can also be carrying emotional baggage. Often this writing is filled with a mixture of cursive and print letterforms, usually slanted to the left.

In case you didn’t know, emotional baggage is emotional hurts carried over from one person to another, or from one situation to a different situation in life. The writing shows the inability to let go emotionally. The words are just unsure.

3. Volatile or bad-tempered

A person who exhibits a bad temper will often write in a haphazard way. It doesn’t always mean they are quick to get angry, oh no. Sometimes it’s just that they carry anger inside until they have a violent outburst. Again, an example using my son, as he has a tendency to hold in anger until he explodes. This shows in his writing.

A bad temper can cause bad handwriting just because people with this anger disposition are usually impatient. With messy and rushed handwriting, we can see the strong emotions come through.

4. Mental issues

Messy handwriting can indicate that the person could have a mental illness. Often this handwriting will consist of switching slants, a mixture of print and cursive writing, and large spaces between sentences. I am sitting here right now looking at a page of my writing from last night.

I have multiple mental illnesses, and my writing shows my instability. I have also witnessed several others with mental illness who have the same sort of writing style. Now, I know it’s not set in stone, but it’s a pretty good indicator of some sort of connection between the two.

5. Low self-esteem

Have you ever noticed the handwriting of someone with low self-esteem? It’s strange and yet messy as well. Those with low self-esteem not only have messy handwriting but also have random loops and strange styles of capital letters.

People with low self-worth are insecure, and yet they are trying desperately to rise above the insecurity by purposely enlarging their letters as they write. As they attempt to do this, they also try to write in bubble letters.

This usually falls right back into messy and disorganized handwriting because it’s hard to hold onto the façade. I know this why? Because sometimes this is me.

6. Introverted

While this might not be true about everyone, it was true about my brother at one time. While my brother has changed and embraced some extrovert attributes, it’s usually in the online atmosphere I remember he used to write everything in these tiny messy sentences. You could barely read them although they were lovely and interesting if you succeeded.

Does he still write like this? I have no idea because most of his dictation is online. I do believe that introverts, like my brother, sometimes write in messy forms. Maybe his style hasn’t changed much.

I also believe introverts are intelligent and so this matches another aspect of messy and cluttered handwriting. As introverts stay at home a lot, they usually have less to prove to others, and so their handwriting is pretty much as they please.

Are you a messy writer?

Many of my family members have messy handwriting, and yet, my middle son has neat and beautiful handwriting. But that’s another topic altogether and for another day.

Remember, most of the attributes of your personality are positive when it comes to having a messy sort of handwriting, so you should be proud of your scribble. I’m okay with mine.

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  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 27th, 2021 3:17 pm

Nov 27th, 2021 7:27 pm

So how is emergence of omicron affecting your travel plans for the neat future?

Nov 27th, 2021 7:35 pm

Supposed to be going to Cancun in 3 weeks and getting nervous.

If Canada tells us to cancel nonessential travel we will cancel the trip.

Nov 27th, 2021 7:38 pm

Unsure – sitting tight for the moment with our domestic trips booked for 2 & 4 weeks out. We’ll have to see what the reports are with respect to how deadly this strain is; I expect this information will emerge in the coming weeks. It is certainly concerning what drastic action countries are taking though, and how quickly they’ve done it, some even given high vaccination rates. If history has suggested anything, is that countries are generally quite complacent to COVID border measures. As much as I’d like to say they’ve learned. I don’t have that much faith in governments.

Realistically, the variant is more than likely already in Canada, it just takes a bit of time to detect.

If I was travelling internationally, I would probably be ready to cancel any minute. Last thing I would want to subject myself to is jumping through 10 million hurdles to enter a country, then risk being stranded abroad. Almost got stuck out of the country as COVID lockdowns hit for the first time, and while things worked out fine, it was certainly a very stressful time.

The side part haircut is one of the few styles that has survived the test of time. It dates all the way back to the 1910s (and possibly before), and you can still see it on thousands and thousands of heads today.

Why has it lasted so long? Well, it’s a particularly versatile haircut. It’s nice for both casual and formal situations, and it’s an ideal haircut for an office job or workplace. It also doesn’t take too much to style, and with a little work in the morning, you’ll have a dapper cut ready to go.

How to change from being messy to neatFeatureflash Photo Agency /

What Is The Side Part Haircut?

As its name implies, the side part haircut relies on a side part. But there’s more to it than that. The top and sides are cut in a traditional fashion to give the side part haircut its all-around timeless look. The result is a short, neat style.

The side part works best with thicker hair, though it is possible to style with finer hair. Like the comb over and other short cuts, it best suits square and oval face shapes.

How to change from being messy to neat@adamoc_hair / Instagram

How To Get The Side Part Haircut

While the haircut is widely known as the “side part haircut,” many barbers and stylists know it by different names. These include the businessman haircut and a traditional cut with a side part. Because it goes by so many names, we recommend bringing in a picture to show your barber or stylist.

To help further, here are the finer details of the side part haircut so you can specify exactly what you want.

How to change from being messy to neat

Joe Seer /

About 2 to 4 inches of hair on top is best for this cut. The longer the hair, the more volume your hair will have. The sides should be clipped with a razor on a setting anywhere from #3 to #6. You’ll also want a taper or fade on the sides as well as a tapered neckline.

If you’d like, you can also ask your barber or stylist to give you a hard part, which is a shaved line that creates a clearly defined part. This makes the hairstyle more noticeable and contrasts the top with the sides.

How to change from being messy to neat@zeke_the_barber / Instagram

How To Style The Side Part Haircut

The side part requires a good quality pomade. Suavecito Original Hold and Layrite Original are two of our favorites. Apply the product to towel-dried, slightly damp hair. If you want a shiny, slicked-back look, use a generous amount (one quarter-sized scoop with your finger).

Next, choose a point on the back of your head either on the left or right. You’re going to comb all of your hair to this point. To do so, comb your hair away from your part and backward as well. (If your hair is on the shorter side and you have trouble combing it backward, simply comb it away from your part.)

How to change from being messy to neat

Featureflash Photo Agency /

Once you’ve combed all of that hair back, comb the sides downward. If you want, you can use a little hairspray to fix the style in place, and you’re finished styling the side part haircut.

Experiment with different amounts of pomade and different ways to style this cut. The side part is a versatile cut, and you can play around with it to see what suits your personal style best.

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Prevailing wisdom claims that the best way to achieve what we want in life—getting into better shape, building a successful business, relaxing more and worrying less, spending more time with friends and family—is to set specific, actionable goals.

For many years, this was how I approached my habits too. Each one was a goal to be reached. I set goals for the grades I wanted to get in school, for the weights I wanted to lift in the gym, for the profits I wanted to earn in business. I succeeded at a few, but I failed at a lot of them. Eventually, I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goals I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed.

  • If you’re a coach, your goal might be to win a championship. Your system is the way you recruit players, manage your assistant coaches, and conduct practice.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal might be to build a million-dollar business. Your system is how you test product ideas, hire employees, and run marketing campaigns.
  • If you’re a musician, your goal might be to play a new piece. Your system is how often you practice, how you break down and tackle difficult measures, and your method for receiving feedback from your instructor.

How to change from being messy to neat

Now for the interesting question: if you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still succeed? For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?

I think you would.

The goal in any sport is to finish with the best score, but it would be ridiculous to spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard. The only way to actually win is to get better each day. In the words of three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh, “The score takes care of itself.” The same is true for other areas of life. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.

What do I mean by this? Are goals completely useless? Of course not. Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.

Problem #1: Winners and losers have the same goals.

Goal setting suffers from a serious case of survivorship bias. We concentrate on the people who end up winning—the survivors—and mistakenly assume that ambitious goals led to their success while overlooking all of the people who had the same objective but didn’t succeed.

Every Olympian wants to win a gold medal. Every candidate wants to get the job. And if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers. It wasn’t the goal of winning the Tour de France that propelled the British Cyclists to the top of the sport. Presumably, they had wanted to win the race every year before—just like every other professional team. The goal had always been there. It was only when they implemented a system of continuous small improvements that they achieved a different outcome.

Problem #2: Achieving a goal is only a momentary change.

Imagine you have a messy room and you set a goal to clean it. If you summon the energy to tidy up, then you will have a clean room—for now. But if you maintain the same sloppy, pack-rat habits that led to a messy room in the first place, soon you’ll be looking at a new pile of clutter and hoping for another burst of motivation. You’re left chasing the same outcome because you never changed the system behind it. You treated a symptom without addressing the cause.

Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.

Problem #3: Goals restrict your happiness.

The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.” The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone. I’ve slipped into this trap so many times I’ve lost count. For years, happiness was always something for my future self to enjoy. I promised myself that once I gained twenty pounds of muscle or after my business was featured in the New York Times, then I could finally relax.

Furthermore, goals create an “either-or” conflict: either you achieve your goal and are successful or you fail and you are a disappointment. You mentally box yourself into a narrow version of happiness. This is misguided. It is unlikely that your actual path through life will match the exact journey you had in mind when you set out. It makes no sense to restrict your satisfaction to one scenario when there are many paths to success.

A systems-first mentality provides the antidote. When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.

Problem #4: Goals are at odds with long-term progress.

Finally, a goal-oriented mind-set can create a “yo-yo” effect. Many runners work hard for months, but as soon as they cross the finish line, they stop training. The race is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it? This is why many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after accomplishing a goal.

The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

Fall In Love With Systems

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.1

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my New York Times bestselling book Atomic Habits. Read more here.

Thanks to Scott Adams for his Wall Street Journal article, which helped prompt this piece.

Thanks for reading. You can get more actionable ideas in my popular email newsletter. Each week, I share 3 short ideas from me, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question to think about. Over 1,000,000 people subscribe. Enter your email now and join us.

Take your JavaScript to the next level at Frontend Masters.

Creating a horizontal row of objects that are equidistant from each other is another one of those things in web design that is much more difficult than it should be. This can be a very useful thing to do, especially in fluid width layouts when you are trying to make the most of whatever horizontal space you have.

How to change from being messy to neat

Here are the goals we are trying to achieve:

  • The left-most object is left aligned with it’s parent element.
  • The right-most object is right aligned with it’s parent element.
  • Each object is equidistant from one another at all times.
  • The objects will stop short of overlapping each other as the browser window narrows.
  • The objects will not wrap down as the browser window narrows.
  • The technique will work in a fluid width environment. Even one that is centered.

I tried a number of different techniques to try and achieve this. Let’s go through all my failures and then to the final technique which seems to work pretty good.

FAIL : Give each object a percentage left position

First I gave each image a unique class:

Then I gave percentage-based left positioning to each of those classes:

Notice the relative positioning. This is required to get the left-most image to respect the parent element assuming the content is centered and not left-aligned. The problem with this is that the left margin being applied to the right-most object is 75% of the browser window width, but applied starting at the left of the parent element not the browser window. This can cause the right-most element to push off the screen (not respecting the right edge of the parent element). Also, inexplicably, these element will eventually wrap if you move the browser window narrow enough.

If you switch to absolute positioning here, you solve some of the above problem but then your objects will be left-aligned and ignore the parent elements left position entirely. Also, at narrow enough browser window sizes, the images will overlap. But hey, at least the objects were equidistant!

FAIL: Give the objects a common left percentage margin

My next stab was to give each element, except the first one, a common percentage left margin.

Applying the margin:

You should be able to tell from looking at that percentage that this technique is doomed. I just picked a percentage that seemed to work best. There is nothing mathematical I could think of that would work here. Because the parent element is a percentage of the width of the browser window, and the margin is a percentage of the browser window not the parent element, the growth rates will be very difficult to match. Also notice the “no-wrap” span, which is necessary to prevent …wait for it… wrapping. But hey, at least the objects were equidistant!

FAIL: Just use a table!

Even “throwing in the towel” on CSS doesn’t seem to work here. I thought this would work for sure, being that tables have that sometimes-useful-sometimes-infuriating ability to auto space it’s cells evenly.

Notice the extra align classes in the first and last cells. If all the cells are centered, that allows the objects to be equidistant but then neither the left object or the right object is aligned to the edge of the parent element. This is solveable by applying a left alignment to the left-most cell and a right alignment to the right-most cell — but then the objects are no longer equidistant. Back to the drawing board.

PASS: Flexbox Justification

PASS: First on the left, float the rest right in equal size boxes

Fortunately the table idea sparked some thought. The first image needs to be left aligned, but all the rest of them could be right-aligned. In fact, if they are, and also inside of boxes that divide the rest of that space evenly, that might just do it. Perhaps this is best explained visually:

How to change from being messy to neat

There is an example page, where I was working this. It’s not pretty… but you can see the winner on the bottom. I’m sure some of you all have some better solutions for this, so let me have it!

PASS: Using inline-block and justified text

This can be done by setting the elements to display: inline-block; and the parent element to text-align: justify; . Well, it’s slightly more complicated and what I’d call a bona fide CSS trick. You add an additional element (via pseudo element) that is 100% wide and the previous inline blocks will line up.

How to change from being messy to neat

Having a tough time finding the right words to come up with “areas for improvement” comments on your students’ report cards? Check out our helpful suggestions to find just the right one!

The following statements will help you tailor your comments to specific children and highlight their areas for improvement.

Related: 125 Report Card Comments for positive comments!

Needs Improvement- all topics

  1. is a hard worker, but has difficulty staying on task.
  2. has a difficult time staying on task and completing his/her work.
  3. needs to be more respectful and courteous to his/her classmates.
  4. needs to listen to directions fully so that he/she can learn to work more independently.
  5. is not demonstrating responsibility and needs to be consistently reminded of how to perform daily classroom tasks.
  6. works well alone, but needs to learn how to work better cooperatively with peers.
  7. does not have a positive attitude about school and the work that needs to be completed.
  8. struggles with completing his/her work in a timely manner.
  9. gives up easily when something is difficult and needs extensive encouragement to attempt the task.
  10. gets along with his/her classmates well, but is very disruptive during full group instruction.
  11. has a difficult time using the materials in the classroom in a respectful and appropriate manner.
  12. has a difficult time concentrating and gets distracted easily.
  13. is having a difficult time with math. Going over _____ at home would help considerably.
  14. is having a very difficult time understanding math concepts for his/her grade level. He/she would benefit from extra assistance.
  15. could benefit from spending time reading with an adult every day.
  16. is enthusiastic, but is not understanding ____. Additional work on these topics would be incredibly helpful.
  17. is having difficulty concentrating during math lessons and is not learning the material that is being taught because of that.
  18. understands math concepts when using manipulatives, but is having a difficult time learning to ____ without them.
  19. is a very enthusiastic reader. He/she needs to continue to work on _____ to make him/her a better reader.
  20. needs to practice reading at home every day to help make him/her a stronger reader.
  21. needs to practice his/her sight words so that he/she knows them on sight and can spell them.
  22. needs to work on his/her spelling. Practicing at home would be very beneficial.
  23. can read words fluently, but has a difficult time with comprehension. Reading with ______ every day would be helpful.
  24. could benefit from working on his/her handwriting. Slowing down and taking more time would help with this.
  25. is having difficulty writing stories. Encouraging him/her to tell stories at home would help with this.
  26. has a difficult time knowing when it is appropriate to share his/her thoughts. We are working on learning when it is a good time to share and when it is a good time to listen.
  27. needs to work on his/her time management skills. _______is able to complete his/her work, but spends too much time on other tasks and rarely completes his/her work.
  28. needs reminders about the daily classroom routine. Talking through the classroom routine at home would be helpful.
  29. is having a difficult time remembering the difference between short and long vowel sounds. Practicing these at home would be very helpful.
  30. is struggling with reading. He/she does not seem to enjoy it and does not want to do it. Choosing books that he/she like and reading them with him/her at home will help build a love of reading.
  31. frequently turns in incomplete homework or does not hand in any homework. Encouraging _______to complete his/her homework would be very helpful.
  32. does not take pride in his/her work. We are working to help him/her feel good about what he/she accomplishes.
  33. does not actively participate in small group activities. Active participation would be beneficial.
  34. has a difficult time remembering to go back and check his/her work. Because of this, there are often spelling and grammar mistakes in his/her work.
  35. does not much effort into his/her writing. As a result, his/her work is often messy and incomplete.
  36. is struggling to understand new concepts in science. Paying closer attention to the class discussions and the readings that we are doing would be beneficial.
  37. is reading significantly below grade level. Intervention is required.
  38. does not write a clear beginning, middle and end when writing a story. We are working to identify the parts of the stories that he/she is writing.
  39. is struggling to use new reading strategies to help him/her read higher level books.
  40. is wonderful at writing creative stories, but needs to work on writing nonfiction and using facts.
  41. has a difficult time understanding how to solve word problems.
  42. needs to slow down and go back and check his/her work to make sure that all answers are correct.
  43. is not completing math work that is on grade level. Intervention is required.
  44. is struggling to understand place value.
  45. is very enthusiastic about math, but struggles to understand basic concepts.
  46. has a difficult time remembering the value of different coins and how to count them. Practicing this at home would be helpful.
  47. would benefit from practicing math facts at home.
  48. is very engaged during whole group math instruction, but struggles to work independently.
  49. is able to correctly answer word problems, but is unable to explain how he/she got the answer.
  50. is having a difficult time comparing numbers.

Related: 125 Report Card Comments for positive comments!

Student Award Certificates!

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I have both Windows 7 and Ubuntu installed on a shared machine. Because a lot of the non-developers use Windows, I’d like to change the boot order to make it easier for them.

Currently the boot order looks like the following:

  • Ubuntu 11.10 kernelgeneric *86
  • Ubuntu 11.10 kernelgeneric *86 (safe boot)
  • Memory test
  • Memory test
  • Windows 7 on /dev/sda6

How do I change the default order so that Windows 7 is at the top of the list?

  • Windows 7 on /dev/sda6
  • Ubuntu 11.10 kernelgeneric *86
  • Ubuntu 11.10 kernelgeneric *86 (safe boot)
  • Memory test
  • Memory test

How to change from being messy to neat

8 Answers 8

You can use an easy-to-use the GUI application called Grub Customizer to make your life a little bit easier. As the name suggests, you can do much more than just reordering GRUB menu entries with it.

You can install it by:

There is an How-To Geek article about it, How to Configure the Linux GRUB 2 Boot Menu the Easy Way. Take a look at it if you’re interested. Also, there is a solved thread on the Ubuntu Forums, Change boot order in GRUB 2 that mentions this tool.

Here are some screenshots:

How to change from being messy to neat

How to change from being messy to neat

How to change from being messy to neat

The Grub Customizer settings may work only from within the latest Linux/Ubuntu installation, the one that installed the Grub.

For example, if somebody has two OS-es installed (Windows and Ubuntu), and then installs a third OS (Manjaro, etc) and then tries to follow the above answer, Grub Customizer changes will not work when made from the second OS (Ubuntu, in the example). The program has to be installed in the thirs OS, as it seems that Grub Customizer can only edit the Grub files created by the installation of the system on which itself is installed.

The files that determine the Grub boot menu come in most cases with the latest system installed on a machine, so Grub Customizer has to be installed and used from that Linux system.

You can also change the grub default boot entry from the command line without having to install any additional tool. This won’t change the order in the list but it will allow a different OS to boot by default, which sounds like what you may want anyway.

First, make a backup copy of /etc/default/grub . In case something goes wrong, you can easily revert to the known-good copy:

Then edit the file using vim or the text editor of your choice:

Find the line that contains

where x is the index of grub menu item to which you would like to boot to by default. Note that the menu items are zero-indexed. That means that the first item in the list is 0 and that the sixth item is actually 5 . So to boot to the sixth item in the list, the line would read:

Paper Website looks fun because I would be crafting the website by hand. I have the feeling, however, that something is lost when a very minimalist blog is created as a result. A minimalist blog could be built with any kind of software. A paper notebook offers much more freedom – in sketching, in using colors, in relating ideas to each other, in writing big and small, in integrating text in sketches. Can't there be a way of preserving the dirtiness, the sketch character of a notebook, while still recognizing text as text?

I also suspect that in using it, I will start writing _for the machine_ in the notebook, instead of _for me_. In the sense of writing carefully, with clean lines and big letters, in order to make it easier for the machine to do its work. This change in how my writing flows could also change how the content of my writing flows. Similar to how I am speaking differently to Siri and other voice assistants than I am to humans: more attentive to pronunciation and trying to be precise in formulations. There is very little poetry in speaking to voice assistants. Could the same happen when writing for OCR?

We've seen this with smart notebooks that let you write with either a smart pen or a smart pad and immediately digitize and OCR. We also already have most of this today on our phones via built-in text scanning with OCR and the ability to easily copy and paste into any blogging application of your choosing.

I don't know if there's really enough efficiencies to be gained here, especially any that overcome the lock in required to use this product.

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