Yesterday, ten days after publishing my book, I was researching via YouTube and came across a video by a very young African-American lady named Tonya. She was asked a question and her reply was wise, well-considered – and one I hadn’t thought of myself. I wish I’d heard it before I published!
The first chapter of my book is ‘Why NOT Time Management’, and later on in its pages I address the advantages and disadvantages of paper and digital planning. Murphy’s Law dictated that Tonya, one third of my age (or even less), came up with the missing one.
Tonya, whose YouTube account is called TonyaPlans, was asked why she preferred paper planning to electronic planning and she replied by first picking up her smartphone and asking how often, when you pick your phone up to do something, do you see or hear a notification and start a routine of answering messages, checking social media and surfing the net in a mental chain of events where one ‘thing’ leads inexorably to another. In a nutshell she was explaining that the reason paper is better than digital is because
Paper. Doesn’t Ping.
It doesn’t distract anywhere near as much as your digital world. With paper, you pick it up, read what it says (or make your entry) and move on. A paper planning system doesn’t have pop-up ads that make you think, “I must get that new iWatch while it’s so cheap” after which you spend an otherwise useful 20 minutes organising and making a purchase of something you don’t need. And after that, you find yourself asking, “Now, why did I pick up my phone?”
You can choose what you can do with paper. With a computer and a printer you can even design planner pages so that they suit your situation and aren’t the best guess of a corporate designer. With paper, you decide what information comes first, and where you keep it. With paper, you can decide that even if you don’t want it in your system just now, you can file it elsewhere with ease. (That is from a planning perspective – of course you can keep it on your computer.)
In one of the many source books I possess, the author wrote of a training session where a participant, asked what was important to him, replied, “Reading.” The presenter asked, “Are you reading as much as you’d like?” Getting a ‘No’ in response, he asked why not?
“Books don’t ring.”
As a rule, people hate interruptions, particularly in those moments when they are in the flow. Interruptions break that flow and recovery is often nigh on impossible. Yet those of us who have accidentally become trained by our devices happily allow a ping or a bleep or a buzz or a song or even a vibrate to interrupt us, and as we tut and moan we STILL pick up that device, ‘just in case’.
How dull are we?
It’s too late in the history of Man and Woman to divest ourselves of our devices. But we can stop making ourselves complicit in our over-reliance on them by returning to using them primarily for their original means – controlled communication – and stop using them for everything, particularly our personal planning. (To be frank, mobile phones aren’t great for planning on the go, anyway.)
Many CEOs have tried digital lives only to return to using paper as their primary planning tool.
You might consider doing the same.
I can help – buy my very inexpensive book.