Time management Monday: Penny’s combination of digital and paper planning

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Today Penny tells us how she combines digital and paper planning!

I prefer to think on paper, but I work in a digital world. I wasn’t surprised by the results of the paper vs electronic planning poll. While my fingers can touch type much faster than I write, by combining both systems I can work more effectively.

Given the nature of my work — I offer technology advice and assistance for solo and small creative business — much of my life is digital. How do I find balance without creating copious amounts of either busy work or duplicate data?

I’ve found three key principles to being productive in a hybrid digital and paper world. They are simple: create a system, consistently use the system, and perform regular reviews of what’s in the system!

Why do I use both paper and digital? I’m human. I like familiarity with my tools, they bring comfort to this chaotic world we live in. Yet I also like some novelty to keep my routines from becoming boring. For me, paper is what brings calm and complete focus. Even when I turn notifications off on all my devices, it’s easy to find distractions as it’s easy to find something new there. There’s also something viscerally satisfying about crossing things off a checklist or crumpling up a note — and these actions don’t translate well to today’s technology. Yes, I could throw my phone across the room, but that is definitely a more expensive action than if I threw a stack of index cards!

Could I do all my planning through the technology applications I’ve chosen? Yes. Could I also do all of it through my notebook and planner? Yes. Despite advances and the ability to draw more easily on screens, I feel I do better thinking on paper. In the current version of my systems, I use both.

So how do I apply these principles? There are four parts to my system, two on paper (a Quo Vadis Principal weekly planner and a Rhodia Goalbook notebook ) and two that are digital (calendar and task list). I refer to all of them constantly creating micro reviews. All tasks go into the task list and when I review get sorted into various projects and assigned due dates. Projects with tasks due that day land in my planner. I have layers of calendars and important things are added to the planner, though as I trial a Life Noted planner this coming year, that may change. I’ve found little tweaks over the years to help these systems talk to each other. For example, I record the project’s page number (from my Goalbook) as part of the project name in my task list. This allows me to quickly flip to the appropriate page and it’s a little nudge that reminds me to look in the notebook and not try to remember everything without recording it somewhere.

The magic is that I trust that this system will work for me. With regular review I don’t worry that any part of the chain is out of sync. I believe that you can pick “the best” planner, or notebook, or software application — but unless you actively work with it, it won’t do anything for you.

Penny Shima Glanz spends her days spinning yarn and code into memorable projects. Small businesses rely on her for smart technology decisions. She creates understated elegance in her hand-knit and crochet designs. She loves muddy trail runs, fosters kittens, and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and two resident cats. www.pennyshima.com

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