OpX Insights

Paper Please

written By Mike Leigh

I admit it.  I use a paper planner.

In a world of Google calendars, One Note, and numerous apps to help with productivity, I still use paper and pen for keeping track of my appointments, setting goals, and managing my business.  In the eyes of some, I’m a dinosaur.

You might think I’m anti-technology, but you would be wrong.  I use my smart phone regularly for navigation and texting (not at the same time!), conduct video meetings over the internet, and stream most of my TV watching.  Yet despite all the technology to help us plan and prioritize our lives, doesn’t it seem like our days are more hectic than ever before?

The problem is this…the more we are “connected” to the information around us, the less we are “connected” to that which is most important to us.  We are inundated by digital media and can’t focus on our critical tasks.  This is where the paper planner comes in.

I use my planner to keep my calendar, write down my goals, keep track of my tasks, take down notes, plan my communications, and manage my important lists.  The advantages of doing this (and confirmed by recent studies) are:

  • Focus – Digital tools are rife with distractions (notifications, Facebook, texts, etc.)  Paper provides distraction-free clarity of thought.
  • Productivity – Within seconds I can review my appointments, find my notes, and review my task list, and do so much faster than others using digital methods.
  • Memory – Studies have proven that the act of writing on paper helps you internalize and remember the information you are recording much better than typing it.

Over the past several years, I have helped hundreds of professionals improve their productivity by developing new habits to manage email, handle interruptions, and delegate tasks.  But the most popular new habit (by far) my clients have appreciated is using a paper planner.  And surprisingly, young leaders, who grew up in the digital age, love them for all the reasons above.

Don’t believe me?  The paper planner industry is growing (10% annually a few years ago).  A search of an online retailer brings up 60,000 paper planners!  A study of college students showed 92% prefer printed materials because it provides better concentration without distractions from digital platforms.

Paper planners may not be for everyone, and there are some disadvantages.  But as I’ve stated a few times in past articles, just because you can use technology for a process doesn’t mean you should!

Still don’t want to try a planner?  Who’s the dinosaur now?

Send your questions or comments to Mike@OpXSolutionsllc.com