In this digital age how often do you pick up a pen and paper?  Growing up, ipads didn’t exist and computers weren’t common in every home.  We didn’t have smart phones, or even mobile phones with apps that can organise you!   I know that makes me sound like a dinosaur, but I’m not yet 40 and things have progressed so rapidly sometimes it’s hard to think of a time when the internet didn’t exist.  This technology has changed the world we work in as well as our personal lives.

I bought a new diary a few weeks ago which is what prompted me to think about this and how much I love pen and paper!  It’s a nice big chunky one will oodles of room to write and plan. I even had my initials monogrammed and it makes me happy everytime I look at it!

It’s not just the aesthetic feel of the diary, although I have to say I do LOVE the way it looks! It’s more how focussed it keeps me, far more so than any electronic resources.  When I am focussed I am more productive, so I wanted to share some insights with you today which might also help your productivity.

I use my diary to keep track of what’s in my head which can be a very chaotic place at times, keeping track of my family of 5 as well as work!

  • Sunday = my brain dump day. Most of the day my diary is open on the side in the kitchen and I jot everything down that pops into my mind about what needs to be done that week.  There is no order, no method, literally everything that I think about.  It includes meals I want to make, things I need to buy, chores, work, kids stuff, anything and everything.
  • Sunday night = sorting and sifting time. This is where I make sense of what I’ve written and organise into categories and form a bigger picture.  I look at who is around on each night, appointments, pick up times and from that I establish how many hours I have each day.  Once I know what I’m working with I start allocating priorities and tasks to different days.
  • I try and meet /speak with my clients at the beginning of the week too to establish any extra tasks or projects they may want me to start working on.
  • Each day then has a task list which I write for the week as a whole which is fluid but it means I can ensure everything is achievable which avoids any kind of overwhelm. My electronic diary is blocked by the hour according to clients/particular tasks which means there isn’t any room for procrastination.
  • At the end of each day I assess what’s been completed and amend the following day accordingly.
  • I make a diary note of any date I said I’d get back to someone, chase a lead, any deadline as well so there’s forward planning as well as immediate planning.
  • If I’m trying to come to a decision on anything I write a list of pros and cons and seeing it in front of me means I come to the answer much quicker rather than wasting time going over and over it in my head.

So how does actually writing things down help?

  • Firstly, it means you don’t forget anything!
  • Crossing things off at the end of the day is incredibly satisfying and leads to a greater sense of achievement, which leads to increased motivation
  • It gives you focus and means you can think clearer and without the background noise going on
  • It means you are much more likely to achieve things because you are holding yourself accountable
  • You get more done because it limits procrastination
  • You have more of an understanding of the bigger picture and the knock on implications if things aren’t achieved that day.

This is what I do on a weekly basis but I also write everything longer term down as well.  My diary has pages for goals / things I’d like to try / places I’d like to go and helps me think of my life as a bigger picture.  However I won’t go further into goal setting  – that is a whole other topic for another day!

I’d love to know who uses pen and paper and actually still writes things down?  For me it’s a necessity and keeps me mentally organised.  If I’m overwhelmed pen and paper are the first things I reach for to limit those feelings.

Please do share your thoughts as to whether pen and paper are old fashioned in this day and age!

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