This post proved my point, by accident.

Oh dear. I’ve started trying an electronic To Do List. Why ‘oh dear’?

It’s a good little system – it’s Microsoft To Do adapted for Android but synching with my laptop, like OneNote but without the complications (unless I want them, in which case my assessment is that all the Microsoft doodads seem to do the same things – but not necessarily in the same order). I can create ad hoc tasks and I can schedule and/or repeat them. Great so far. When I started using it, at this point the only downside (for me) was the potential for empty space in the Task List section of my paper planner.

Now the downside I discovered later. The satisfying ‘Ping’ when ticking of a completed task. Okay, I could probably turn it off but it is the truly fun part, initiating a dopamine hit when it goes off several times a day.

But you see, the ping is the final part of the biggest problem with the electronic system. In order to hear the ping I have to pick up the device. Which means that for the average user the ping is the instigator of a sudden desire to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, other apps I’ve never even heard of, the news, e-mails and every other thing that jumps to mind the instant you pick up your electronic device. Add that to the inevitability of going through that routine every time the device pings for each of the notifications you don’t turn off, and you spend an inordinate amount of otherwise useful time just looking at your phone. Go to any restaurant and count the numbers of phones on the tables or, worse, in the hands of people ‘socialising by ignoring’.

I’m no saint. I reach for the phone every ad break, when the telly plot loses interest for me, when something said makes me think, “oooh…..” and the answer lies on the plastic and metal that costs hundreds of pounds (even though you could argue that the materials couldn’t possibly justify that cost).

And I hate myself for it. Not to mention I genuinely believe that an ache I have in my right arm is directly related to its constant use to ‘fingerprint password enter’, and the prod and poke at the screen to find out that Kim is divorcing Kanye – I’m not interested but the news media are, for some reason, and it’s at the top of the page.

Worse, this constant diversion of attention has an add-on effect that I can’t concentrate for meaningful periods on things that deserve my focused attention.

Which begs the question. If that is true of devices – all devices – is it any wonder that police officers and staff have their focus affected by the devices they are now duty-bound to carry and use? Digital devices are wonderful inventions but the way they work has resulted in an inability to focus on detail. They invite ‘quick’ entries, and some of the pocketbook-type entries and ‘statements’ I used to receive beggar belief in their lack of detail and, dare I say it, evident lack of effort in creating them because they were never meant to be laptops! They are stopgaps which have been given a role to which they were never suited, and instead of using them as temporary storage for the odd note, they have become the go-to place for details BUT because they are fiddly to use – and oh-too-accessible – details are the one thing that don’t get entered. People write in/on them while still engaged in the conversation creating the need for the note – attention deficit ensues.


I’ll keep at it for a while with the ToDo App, but I think it’ll be non-intrusive, non-pinging paper planning that will win out in the end.

What say you?

Try my Paper Planning System for One Month HERE at Amazon

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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