People who know me know that I’m old school. I mean, just look at my phone.
I know, I know.
But I spend my days on a computer, and the last thing I want to do is spend all my time away from the computer on another, much smaller computer. My husband does the online grocery shopping because at the end of the day, I can’t face spending any more time looking at a screen.
Refusing to join the rest of the smartphone-connected world leaves me free to fully enjoy my time with friends and family without feeling I need to check social media (or even work apps) every five minutes to see what I might be missing in the online world.
No, I can’t take decent photos with this phone, but I enjoy using my old-school camera. (It is digital, I’m not that old school!) No, I can’t post my boys’ swim team’s photos on Facebook live or even very quickly after the event – people have to wait until I get home, edit the photos, and upload them.
But what if going “retro” made you more productive?
In a remote work context, the RED team uses digital tools to collaborate. We use WordPress for our website, My Intervals for project management, Zoho as a CRM, Mailchimp for sending newsletters to clients, Google Drive and Dropbox for sharing documents, Zoom for video conferences, Evernote to share internal procedures, Loom to make instructional videos for clients. Digital tools certainly have their usefulness; no one would deny that – especially not a full-time remote worker like me!
But when I’m working on projects like keeping our blog or Facebook page up to date, I print out a calendar (Calendarpedia.com is a great source for all kinds of different layouts), and I make my plans on paper. I use a calendar that shows me three months to a page, with a line for each day, so I can write blog titles or note what we’re sharing on Facebook.
And I’m not the only one. Emma uses a paper planner like this to plan out her weekly priorities and keep a global view on longer-term goals:
Want to try it out? Download this weekly planner here!
Outside of work, a paper agenda helps me keep track of appointments for my family. I like being able to flip through pages instead of scroll through screens. It gives me the feeling of having a better grasp of our schedule.
Paper and pen to-do lists for the house are a must. I get an immense amount of pleasure from crossing out items that are done – and that alone inspires me to be more productive.
When I budget for my family, I use software (Quicken), but also an Excel spreadsheet, and a monthly plan on paper. Seeing the numbers in different places and arranged in different ways helps me better visualize and comprehend the information, but the one that helps me the most is the monthly paper view.
As a voracious reader, I have a Kindle. I appreciate how easy it is to travel with it as opposed to carrying paper books with me. But I’ve often noticed that I retain much less information when I read on my Kindle than when I read a paper book. With my Kindle, I can never tell you the name of the book I’m currently reading because I don’t remember it. My Kindle opens right to the page I am on, so I don’t see the book’s cover every time I pick it up to read. I also tend to skim and scan more often than I read when I’m looking at a Kindle or a computer screen. I take a bit more time and read more carefully when I am looking at written words on paper. Studies have shown that students comprehend what they read in paper textbooks better than what they read in digital textbooks, so it’s not just me.
As a verbal/written word-oriented person (just ask my coworkers how anti-watching instructional videos or listening to podcasts I am), I can understand and analyze information more easily when I can see it and touch it. I’m more productive if I have a better understanding of I’m working on. I’m able to better concentrate when I can focus on one thing (the paper I’m looking at) instead of thinking of the many windows open on my computer (8, as I write this blog post, or 14 if we count separate browser tabs as well) and what I need to do to manage the information in each one.
The same may not be true for you, depending on your learning style, which greatly influences your working style. Or it may be.
Why try out a bullet journal or paper day planner, and see whether it’s more effective for you than digitally managing every aspect of your life and work? You may find yourself becoming more productive as you go non-digital.