If you don’t think digital devices are changing our behavior, then think again. Even the most enthusiastic users of mobile phones, pads, and other devices are starting to notice that things just aren’t the same. In a recent post I highlighted some of the latest research on how the digital revolution is changing the way we live. The truth is, we’re never going back to a world without digital devices, but I’ve discovered there is a way to fight the negative changes the digital world is forcing on us.
I’m an ardent user of computers and mobile apps of all kinds, but a few years ago I realized that using digital to-do lists, notes and planners had created a mountain of information that I wasn’t even using. After all, with to-do list apps, at the click of a button we can easily and quickly convert pesky emails, websites, or calendar notes into another item on my dreaded to-do list. And without giving much thought or reflection to each task, that list soon took on overwhelming proportions.
That’s when I decided that I could carve out one place to bring print back into my life: my creative planning and daily note taking.
I’m a creative professional, but in spite of the gargantuan number of print productivity planners out there, I couldn’t find the right fit. In most cases, there was either too little design (blank pages) or too much (endless unwanted templates like “My Daily Affirmation”) to fill out.
So after looking at a wide range of planners on the market, I realized there were very few tools to help creative people and creative leaders. So I created “Unique: The Ultimate Planner for Creative Professionals.” While our first goal was to design the perfect planner for creative people like writers, artists, designers, musicians, or filmmakers, we discovered that it’s also the right planner for anyone who thinks creatively in whatever field you’ve chosen.
Since then, I’ve discovered that more and more research backs up my decision to move to a print planner. The Association for Psychological Science reports that taking notes by hand is better than taking notes on a laptop for remembering conceptual information over the long term. Pam Mueller of Princeton University reports that “Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance.”
But it is so much more than note taking. When planning my day in a print planner, here’s what I discovered:
1. I pull 3 top priorities from my unending digital to-do list, which forces me to focus on what I can actually accomplish today rather than staring at an unlimited and unworkable list on my computer or device.
2. The act of writing goals and tasks down causes me to pause and reflect. My thinking is more clear and those moments of reflection make a dramatic difference in how I approach the day.
3. Print works far better than digital in meetings. How many meetings do you attend where no one is actually paying attention – they’re all immersed in laptops or mobile devices? In my experience, print makes a significant difference in how I’m perceived, and indicates much more respect for those around the table.
4. Drawing sketches, creating fast notations, and highlighting is much faster and more effective in print.
5. I actually enjoy reviewing my notes in print more than scrolling through electronic pages. There’s something far more interesting in flipping through last week’s ideas, notes, and sketches.
I encourage you to try it as well. After all, I’m not asking you to go cold turkey on your digital life. Continue to work on your laptop or mobile device, check emails on whatever is most convenient, and use a shared online calendar with your team. But when it comes to designing your day, and accomplishing your goals, from my experience you can’t beat a print planner, and I believe Unique will transform the way you design your day.