In Praise of Paper

Posted: August 2, 2010 in leadership, life, productivity, words, writing

You might be more productive if you unplugged your gear and wrote things down. I know the common wisdom is that technology helps us be more productive. And in some ways that’s true. People now keep electronic calendars, track projects with productivity software and so on. I want to argue — just for a moment — that you may need to recover pad and pen; writing things on paper. Though I’m an iPod, iPhone, Evernote kind-of guy, my most productive strategy is writing things down.

And here’s why I think it works well for me (and it might for you):

Writing Engages My Memory in Ways Typing Doesn’t. Truthfully, I type too much, so when I write something down, it feels as if my memory clicks in as if to say, “This is really important.” What’s more, something written in my paper planner or on my Action Sheet is more easily accessible. I don’t have to fire-up or log-in to anything. That means, as I’m working through the day, my most important and urgent tasks are simply a glance away.

People Are Annoyed By Your Electronics. Recently, I had lunch with several people while traveling on vacation. During one of those lunch meetings, two people pulled out their iPhones and began typing. Were they jotting down some nugget of wisdom from me, or checking e-mail? At another lunch with a church leader, my lunch partner simple pulled out a Moleskine notebook to jot down an idea that came to mind during the conversation. In one instance, I felt dismissed. In the other, I felt honored. Fiddling on your electronics in the presence of others is simply annoying, regardless of the good reasons you may need to do it. Just try this: In your next meeting, only take notes on paper. See how that changes things.

The Road Ahead Is Easy to See: This one is big for me! In my paper planner, I can see well ahead when busy times are coming. On my Google Calendar, I can easily manipulate the week, but I tend to have dates sneak up on me. For some reason that just doesn’t happen with paper. Plus, each Sunday night, Rochelle and I sit down, planners in hand, and map out the week. I can see quickly where the pressure points are, and we can shape the week the way that works best for my family.

If you’d like to move back to paper, here are some of the tools I use:

Behance Action Journal (affiliate link) – Great for project-planning and knowing what you’ve got going that is actionable. This is not for daily to-do’s, but short and long term projects. I use a simple to-do list for the daily and the action journal for projects.

My-Tyme Success Planner from Leadership Management, Inc – Our entire staff uses these. What’s great is that it allows you to track the hours you spend on task, set short and long term goals, provides space for monthly personal and business goals. When I follow it, my month is productive, healthy and much happier.

Moleskine Notebooks (affiliate link)- I have more of these than I can count. I speak and teach with them and take notes for larger writing ideas.

Give writing a try for the next month and see what happens.

  1. […] these are the same people who can’t sit down with you over lunch or coffee without checking their phone 50 times. If you’re one these people,  I’ve got a newsflash for all of you: You’re […]

  2. […] As a leader, you must focus on projecting the positive. Sit down with a journal or notebook and map out all the successes you and your team have had, then remind people of them. This past […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s