How I stopped being technology's bitch

Written by Paul on July 16th, 2008

This is the twelfth in a series of posts about the lessons I wish I’d learned earlier in life.

There was a point in time when I absolutely had to have the latest gadget and try out the coolest new productivity hacks in my quest to get ahead. Looking back though, I can’t help but laugh at myself a little bit. I actually wonder how much time I spent reorganizing my personal “system” each time I tried something new – I bet it would be in the hundreds of hours.

“So, what changed?”

It was simple really: I realized that the majority of the successful people I knew relied on paper. PAPER! Not the latest iPhone. Not the latest GTD tool. Not the latest whatchamacallit. Just plain old paper.

“What’s the big deal with paper?”

Todoodlist eBookFirst, go pick up a copy of Todoodlist and you will quickly see what I mean. It’s an easy read, you’ll get a few good chuckles and it includes a number of practical tips that I was able to use immediately. (One of the best things about it is the 30 day refund policy – so you have absolutely no excuse not to buy it. Just return if you really don’t get anything out of it.)

As I’ve said before, learning just one new idea from a book is the best way to spend $20 today.

“What system do you use?”

Here are my tools of choice:

  1. Parker Jotter Stainless Steel Ball Pen
  2. Parker Gel Ink Inserts
  3. Moleskine Ruled Notebook

That’s it – three simple things that won’t go out of style tomorrow, won’t break the bank and never, ever need to be charged up.

4 Responses to “How I stopped being technology's bitch”

  • Samir

    I too gotta admit I am one of those guys who loves to try the latest in technology gear. My thing with using a notebook is what if I loose it or forget it somewhere? I am usually not clumsy, but accidents happen. With using the memo pad or sending an email to myself with my Blackberry I can’t really loose anything since the notes and emails are synced with my desktop. I do see how this may take longer than just flipping to a page or jotting a quick note.

    — 07/17/08 at 7:16 pm

  • I hear you, Paul, there’s something special about paper. It does have a permanence and presence to it that most tech-wizardry lacks. But though I do keep a journal in a Moleskine, everything else is electronic. Whether one uses fancy tools or not there’s just so much benefit to taking notes and holding onto stuff electronically:

    * Like Samir said, BACKUPS (my dog eliminated one journal, for instance)
    * Full text search
    * Editing (depending on what you’re doing it may make you take longer having this luxury but often times one ends up refining into a formal piece something they had planned to keep informal earlier)
    * Distribution (um, send me that photocopy…?)
    * You can type so much faster than you can handwrite (most likely)
    * Shall I go on?

    I know, I’m a geek, and I haven’t grabbed their book yet, which I’m sure has lots of great ideas in it. But as someone who’s kept both paper journals and electronic ones for a long time, I will say that the escape of paper is lovely, but for things I want to refer back to, finding a good program and sticking with it takes the cake (OneNote or blogging are my choices for that).

    But hey I’m just being a contrarian and it’s 1:55am. You can write up a comment on paper and then have someone type it when you get a chance.

    — 07/17/08 at 9:56 pm

  • Nice post headline, very eye catching (=

    I just started using Tim Ferriss’s advice: Each night, fold a 8.5 x 11 into 1/3. Write down your 2 “mission-critical” items to do the next day. The next day, do not multi-task, focus on those two things. That’s it, very simple but very powerful! I’ll have to check out Todoolist.

    — 07/21/08 at 4:56 pm

  • I think a hybrid would work better. It’s my current experiment. For speed and ease of use, I’m thinking pen and moleskine. Later in the day, this stuff can be transferred to electronic versions. I’m currently experimenting with this setup, having my Virtual Assistant make the computer entries for me and helping me stay on task.

    — 09/07/08 at 9:44 pm

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