Paper Covers…Everything

While I’ve invested heavily in OmniFocus on all of my platforms, there are times and situations where I shift gears to another trusted productivity app…of sorts.

I have always been a fan of paper, and I’d be foolish to not have some form of paper product and a writing instrument with me at all times. Since I’ve spent more time using my MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone for my task management and note taking, I’m not as much into paper for everyday use. If I can put it directly into OmniFocus I do – and with Siri integration now in full effect, I can do so even faster.

But there are times where simply using some “paperware” and a great writing tool helps ground me into what I need to get done.

OmniFocus (and any task manager that is digital in nature) is a beast. It holds a ton of information, and it can be tough to wade through all of it to get done what really needs to get done on that day. Flagging can help (as well as using Start Times instead of Due Dates), but after looking at all that I have on the docket for a day, I can feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of what’s there.

That’s when paper comes into the equation.

Paper and Task Management

  • I write down my “Big Rocks”1 for the day on either a Helvetindex card or in the notebook I’m using.
  • I close down OmniFocus and start to work on the first Big Rock.
  • When the first one is finished, I highlight it or cross it off and then move on to the next one, and so on.
  • Finally, I open OmniFocus and take care of marking them as done in there, and then I review what’s left in there, moving on with my day.

I use my Helvetindex cards throughout the day when it’s quicker for me to write down something than capture on my iPhone or iPad. And, honestly, pulling them out rather than an iOS device is sometimes more appealing to those I’m with that may not be as deep into technology as others. There are times when I get just many rolling of the eyes when I use my devices to take notes or write down a task than I get nods of approval.

Paper and Brainstorming, Mind Mapping and Outlining

I’ve always used paper to map things out and brainstorm. Although I am starting to use software like OmniOutliner, iThoughts HD and Evernote for that sort of stuff, paper still is my “analog app” of choice. 2

The Power of Paper

There’s something about the feel of writing something down on a quality piece of paper stock with a quality writing instrument. There’s a connection that you make with the material that you just can;t get in the digital realm. Every letter, every word feels different when you write them out yourself. The same can’t be said for keystrokes on a computer or touchscreen.

I’ve written about the power of paper before and I’ll likely do so again because I really think there’s a value to it that can’t be underrated. The very reasons people have switched to digital are also becoming great reasons to stick with paper.

  • Paper can create visual clutter. It’ll be in your face, which means you have to deal with it. Digital clutter? Not so much – in that you can let it sit and it doesn’t fill your desk. Just your desktop.
  • Paper isn’t just cross-platform…it is platform.
  • The only compatibility issues you have with paper is if it’s written in a language you don’t understand. And the chances are that you’ll know that in advance before either writing it down or handing it to them. Not as seamless with digital works.

As for the environment? I’m not saying paper should be used excessively. I’m saying it should be used effectively. As with anything, moderation is the key.

I’m a Paper-Backed Writer

I use paper and I love using it. I use it wisely and I use quality stock. I take care of it and it helps take care of me. In my mind, paper is still one of the most powerful backups you can use. And it’s pretty powerful for primary use as well.

Paper’s authenticity, flexibility and utility makes it both the right choice and the “write” choice when it comes to getting things done.

1A tip of the hat to Leo Babauta for introducing me to this term.
2That said, I am diving deeper into iThoughts HD thanks to David Sparks. More “hat-tipping” on this one..

Photo credit: ups2006 (CC BY 2.0)