Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Organizing Myself on Paper: A 3 Month Challenge

Once upon a time, in the days before many people had computers on their desks they organized themselves with pen and paper. Often with a day planner.

That seems quaint and archaic in this era of the smartphone and tablet, but you know what? People actually got work done without fancy gadgets. They made it to their appointments. They recalled important dates. They had contact information at their fingertips. Most, if not all, of that information lived within one small book or binder.

Sure, pen and paper have their drawbacks. But they can be quick and efficient tools for organizing yourself.

Influenced by my experiments last year with the Bullet Journal, I’m going to see whether or not I can organize myself primarily using pen and paper for the next three months.

By organizing myself, I mean:

  • Maintaining my task list
  • Tracking events and appointments
  • Recording ideas and information

All with these:

My organization tools for the next three months

Why? A few reasons. Part of it has to do with me trying to get back to basics as much as possible. Complexity has been seeping into my life and my systems, and this is a good time to reset.

Also, I just want to see if I can do it. Back in the 1990s, I tried using a day planner to stay organized. I just wasn’t able to adapt to using one. Maybe I can now.

On top of that, I want to free myself from the visual din of reminders, and of reliance on too much automation. Reminders are useful, as is having tools do some of the heavy lifting for you. But I find all that can be a crutch. One that I don’t need. At least, not too often.

Finally, I want to experiment with a faster way of capturing ideas and information. Grabbing a pen and a notebook fits that bill — I can get thoughts and words down quickly. Far more quickly than I can with a phone or a tablet.

In the end, this experiment is about reducing my reliance on technology, if only in a small way.

To be honest, I’m not sure if this experiment will morph into something that will last beyond three months. I’m not entirely sure that I can organize myself on paper during the next three months.

I’m going to try, though.

Having written that, I don’t plan on abandoning technology entirely. With my notes, for example, I plan to use a notebook for immediate capture, then transfer them to Simplenote.

This should be an interesting experiment. Keep checking back for updates.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

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