Scott Hanselman

Totally stressed out? Sync to Paper

May 29, '15 Comments [57] Posted in Productivity
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Messy Moleskine photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy and used under Creative Commons

One of the things I often talk about when I give presentations on Personal Productivity is that more people should Sync To Paper. I first had this idea in 2006 while working on a completely overwhelming project at my last job. I was already deeply into using OneNote, which was rather new at the time, so I was putting everything onto my laptop. I was convinced that my unorganized brain could "get organized" if I just wrote everything down in some cloud-based text file.

The problem is, at least for me, is that there isn't a great way to see the big picture when you've just got pixels to look at. Life is much higher resolution than I think folks realize. I'm frankly surprised that so many of you can feel organized and productive on those 11" laptops. What a tiny window into your life!

Anyway, when I was working on this huge project the database was extremely complex. Hundreds of tables and relationships to manage. It was far too much for anyone to keep in their heads or view on a screen. So they turned to the plotter. Remember those? The database team would print out massive posters and hang them on the wall. They'd stand together in front of them and stare and think.

You see syncing to paper a lot with user interface/user experience teams (UI/UX). We'll wallpaper entire hallways with mockups of what the system should look like, putting them in high traffic areas so everyone can absorb them and collaborate.

When my life is overwhelming and I am at PEAK STRESS, I do a three things.

  • I get a haircut, because at least I got that handled.
  • I clean my office, so I'm not reminded of the chaos of my life by the chaos of clutter around me.
  • And I sync to paper. I get a Moleskine notebook (Here's how to pronounce Moleskine, BTW) and I find a clear page and I write down what's stressing me out. I sync all my devices to paper. Calendars, Todos, thoughts, life, to paper.

The physicality of it is very satisfying in a visceral way. I've tried to do the same on a Surface or iPad with a stylus, but it doesn't work for me. The removal of technology and the scratch of a good quality pen on paper (I use a space pen) is very cathartic. Often I'm working on solving a technical problem so stepping away from tech is as important as the paper. It's a forced context switch. Even more, as a kinesthetic learner I feel like the moving of my hands differently, even if I never refer to the written notes again, the process helps cement the issues.

True Story: If you watch the Microsoft BUILD Keynote (a big deal, in tech circles) you'll see me come out for my 15 minute demo holding my Moleskine notebook. No one else does this. In fact, they tease me a little about my notebook. In fact, I'm usually given a 30 page typed script to memorize. It includes screenshots, talking points, gotchas, demo instructions, passwords, all the stuff I need for my demo. Folks work on these scripts for weeks and then deliver them to me. It's VERY stressful for everyone. We sit together for days and go over these huge documents and I freak out and panic and then get out my Moleskine and synthesize 30 pages into one. Here's what I took on stage with me for the BUILD 2015 keynote. Insane isn't it? But without it I would have freaked out. Now the stage crew knows me as "the guy with the notebook." And yes, I know my handwriting sucks and that this is an unintelligible pile. It still worked, and worked well. ;)

I have horrible handwriting

When I'm completely a mess OR I'm trying to get my head around a large problem, I'll cover the floor with paper, or find a wall or large whiteboard and try to work it out.

We focus on touchscreen and pinch gestures a lot these days, but for me "zoom out" means literally and figuratively taking a step back from a piece of paper and trying to absorb the big picture.

Paper is the cheapest retina display you'll ever use. Give it a try, at least until I can afford a Surface Hub for my office. ;)

Microsoft Surface Hub

Do you sync to paper? How does it work for you?

UPDATE: I was pointed to a post from Robert Greiner who promotes the same idea! Great minds think alike. I encourage you to also read his thoughts on the concept, as they are different from mine. He likes the temporary aspect of paper, and the pain of writing as ways to keep one focused.

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* Messy Moleskine photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy and used under Creative Commons

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Friday, 29 May 2015 05:33:37 UTC
My wife refuses to sync to 0s and 1s. It's paper (post-it notes) all the way...

The lesson is that we don't have to use tech just because it's there.
Joseph Hanna
Friday, 29 May 2015 06:07:13 UTC
What Joseph said about tech. I keep a stack of index cards and a couple of notepads on my desk, can't function without them. OneNote is great, and so are my Post-its. Thanks, Scott.
John Cashman
Friday, 29 May 2015 06:28:43 UTC
I am a notebook guy. I love taking notes on my Moleskine. But I also began to like Baron Fig notebook. Instead of ballpen, I use fountain pen. The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is good entry level pen. That's what I use.
Friday, 29 May 2015 06:43:24 UTC
I agree completely! I find it is so much easier to mentally 'join the dots' when drawing out a network diagram and application flowchart on a large piece of art paper.

Somehow I feel that the mind connects more closely with our hands as we draw, than our fingers as we point+click+drag.
Friday, 29 May 2015 07:07:29 UTC
OneNote is great, and so are my Post-its. Thanks, Scott.
Friday, 29 May 2015 07:11:53 UTC
I like the fact that you don't use paper with lines or squares on it, but rather use blank paper as a canvas to let your mind play.
Andreas Kroll
Friday, 29 May 2015 07:20:23 UTC
Hey Scott,

What a brilliant article. I was thinking about this just yesterday, how 'inaccessible' devices are when it comes to just writing down random thoughts and other such things. As in, how or why doesn't it work on an electronic device? Is it the thought it has to be 'right', layout correct, user gets caught up in the minutiae of the thing? Oh, silly device has lost the network, my notes haven't loaded... and so on.

My own use is keeping track of exercise and other random notes. I often get asked 'How do you keep a diary of your routine? Evernote, Google Docs...?'. Hell no! Pencil and a cheap notepad - it's free form and simple, doesn't really matter if it doesn't even make sense. I wrote it down because I needed to, because I was doing something!

I like the phrase 'Sync to Paper'. I'll have to remember that one.

- Jason
Friday, 29 May 2015 07:21:14 UTC
At last someone is coming out and publicly declaring my guilty secret. I feel I really should be going paper less and I have tried to use OneNote for personal brainstorming or even simple to-do lists but I often fall off the wagon and go back to paper. I still use OneNote heavily but it just doesn't seem to click with me for some types of things.

Malcolm Miles
Friday, 29 May 2015 07:37:17 UTC
I remember things much better when I use pen and paper so have always carried a notebook to meetings... Given that I write with a fountain pen and use a moleskin notebook, it resulted in a bit of teasing from people who didn't understand why the early twenties developer was being 'old school' with paper and pen.

All in all, a post that really resonates with me - particularly this gem: Life is much higher resolution than I think folks realize.
Rob
Friday, 29 May 2015 07:55:19 UTC
I've got a trellis board with all my tasks, projects etc But it's my little notebook that helps me not get overwhelmed.

Everyday I start with two blank pages. The left hand side has the day name at the top and is used for journaling/notes. The right hand side has the date at the top and three sections I fill in everyday:

1. What I achieved yesterday (this gives a sense of accomplishment)

2. What I stuffed up yesterday (this helps one learn and reflect)

3. What I plan to do today (this is limited to top 3 tasks and controls my feeling of overwhelm)

The cathartic effect this has on me everyday is amazing. Try it guys :)

Friday, 29 May 2015 08:31:11 UTC
Pen and paper is way underrated these days. I find it very useful for meetings as well, it allows me to digest the incoming information better.

Also, studies have shown that students using pen and paper learn a lot more during class compared to those typing.
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/heres-why-you-should-take-notes-hand-instead-with-laptop.html
Thomas
Friday, 29 May 2015 10:25:10 UTC
I wholeheartedly agree.

A notepad may not have a built in search, but it's a very high resolution 3D interface which integrate sharing abilities (tear out a page for someone).

Screens let us peak into the virtual world of computers. However I find it more productive to do my thinking and planning in the real world, before making it virtual.
Friday, 29 May 2015 10:47:57 UTC
For me it's a relatively-cheap 200 page spiral A4 lined pad and a fine-tipped Mitsubishi Uni-ball gel pen. I keep the pad folded back on itself, and always write on the right-hand page. Date (in ISO format) goes at the top of each page, or immediately before a new thought/section/whatever. The cover page has my name, my company and the date I started using the pad.

When I get to the end of the pad, I turn it upside-down and continue writing on the right-hand side (i.e. the former left-hand side).

To be honest, I've never seen the attraction of Moleskine notebooks. It doesn't look like they stay open when sitting on the desk, and that's important to me. I've never really been comfortable with anything smaller than A4, either.

I find that the freehand nature of paper and pen (or whiteboard) allows more flexibility in jotting things down. I'm forever drawing arrows between connected thoughts, or drawing boxes around stuff that's important. I'm a big fan of mind-maps as well.

I also think that the ephemeral nature of paper is useful to be able to forget things. Each morning, I'll flip back through the previous day's notes. If there's anything important that I've forgotten, I'll make another note of it for today. If I don't get to it after a couple of days, it probably wasn't all that important.
Friday, 29 May 2015 10:51:34 UTC
I don't do the hair cut thing, but when I am stuck or stressed, I do clean my desk.

I also like the Field Notes brand notebooks (http://fieldnotesbrand.com/). They're small, forcing brevity, and attractive. Additionally, they're often conversation starters in meetings.

As a former art major, working out ideas with pencil and paper is a very natural thing to me.
Mike Henderson
Friday, 29 May 2015 12:35:55 UTC
Thomas beat me to it, but there's research that suggests when you write things down, they tend to make more sense to our brain than if you typed them out. The science behind has to do with something called chunking, where you what it is you're learning or doing, translate it into a format you understand, correlate with the rest of your knowledge, and store it.

My amateur scientific understanding of it is that writing something down is lot more physical (tactile) than typing it in, so there's more feedback. Also, most people write a lot slower than they type, so you have to synthesize the material into something you'll remember as opposed to just transcribing it.
Friday, 29 May 2015 13:01:05 UTC
Buzz
Friday, 29 May 2015 13:02:11 UTC
Whew! I thought that link was going to tell me that it's NOT "mole skin"! #relieved
Friday, 29 May 2015 13:02:47 UTC
I totally agree with this. There's one other aspect for me.

It's too easy to format, i.e. different fonts, bolding, indenting, etc. with any software that I find that using software distracts from me just getting my ideas down as well
Taki
Friday, 29 May 2015 13:07:30 UTC
This is what i also do when i am stressed out. specially when there is big client presentation instead of using techs its much easier and relieving to use physical paper. It makes me calm before any big event. Even walking and self talk also helps.
Sudhakar
Friday, 29 May 2015 13:10:00 UTC
I usually use a 4x8" notepad, unlined, for meetings; big 10x22" graph paper for architecturing; and a cheap 8½x11" graph paper notebook for requirements; and only have .5mm mechanical pencils.
As the only developer in a large digital print company, I always get strange looks from everyone when they come in with their laptops and tablets and I'm toting around the dead trees and analog input device.
I've found that I remember things noticeably better than the digitizers, while they're searching their OneNotes for keywords, I remember the patterns that I made on the paper, which leads to remembering the situation/environment when I made the patters, which leads to a better understanding of the whole picture. While they are finding instances of the specific keywords, my neurons are assembling everything before, during and after.
Mike W
Friday, 29 May 2015 13:40:05 UTC
I use Evernote in conjunction with the Evernote smart notebook. It's small, lightweight and the Evernote application allows for photographing and organizing hand written notes. I've filled two of them so far with whatever project/development information I find important to keep track of, but doesn't fit a bullet pointed list. It's my work diary.
Glenn
Friday, 29 May 2015 13:46:12 UTC
White vinyl wallpaper that take most of the wall, so we can write things down and have enough space to do so. I'm trying to convince my wife to do the same at home...
Friday, 29 May 2015 14:15:33 UTC
I'm really curious if the effectiveness of paper notes is dependent on whether you spent your university/college years with a keyboard or paper for note-taking.

Being in the latter group, I find the spatial layout of my written notes brings back so much more detail of the meeting or thought process than typed notes.

I see this spatial factor showing up in a few places:
  • Memory champions place things spatially in a familiar place in their mind
  • The layout of hand-written notes/diagrams on a page brings back much more detail, as Scott and other noted
  • If I re-hear a notable part of a podcast, I can often recall where I was when I first heard it.
Ian W
Friday, 29 May 2015 14:15:38 UTC
I have always been very conservative about using paper. I stopped buying books since I discovered MSDN online in the late 90's.

Since early 2000's I read books and articles only online and now sites like Safari Books. My office has no printed paper or books.

I feel the reasons people say for continue to use are similar to the ones used by people riding big gas guzzling SUV's. There are exceptions to this same way where a big SUV may be a better option in some cases.
James Paul
Friday, 29 May 2015 14:30:17 UTC
I thought I was the only guy who'd rather bring a notepad and pen to demos rather than a laptop. Glad to know I'm not the only crazy one.
Friday, 29 May 2015 15:49:14 UTC
I agree with this more every day. Both you and Robert have very valid reasons behind this.

I've tried... oh, how I've tried to become completely digital. But last night was the last straw. I missed several exchanges in a conversation while correcting autocorrect in Evernote when trying to take notes on my iPhone.

I'll be reviving my Moleskine notebook again after a few years -- and I don't even have to make sure its battery is recharged!
Friday, 29 May 2015 15:52:26 UTC
I have often found stepping away to a whiteboard where I can layout everything and easily toss it out when it doesn't make sense leads to my best designs and ideas. So when I started working from home for myself my wife got me an 4' x 8' white panel board that I just glued to the wall with liquid nails. Then I have a smaller whiteboard I keep at my desk for when I don't feel like going back and forth from monitor to whiteboard.
Friday, 29 May 2015 16:33:06 UTC
I'm absolutely the same. Anything complex, whether its a design, user story or even an important email - I don't even go near a computer until I "have it" on paper.

I'm sure some of my colleagues think I'm nuts because I will frequently be scribbling on blank bits of A4 and all of a sudden shout "got it!". Basically what's happened is I've been able to solve a problem on paper that I absolutely could not have by clacking at my keyboard. This could be a C# function, database design or user story that I've been struggling with - anything complex.

I always wondered if I was actually just a bit thick because not all of my colleagues seem to need to do this. However, there are absolutely problems that I can solve easily on a blank bit of paper, that I would really struggle with if I just opened Visual Studio and started typing....
Friday, 29 May 2015 16:46:50 UTC
I find I often bounce between my Moleskin (or some other brand) and Evernote. Taking the Moleskin around everywhere seems cumbersome so that's where Evernote comes in; yet when I'm in my office or walking around the house or traveling with a backpack I almost always have it on me.

The fun and interesting thing about syncing to paper is the ease and joy of seeing what you worked on and thought about in the past. You don't get that with a Whiteboard. Weirdly enough I get less of a thrill looking at older work on the computer...
Friday, 29 May 2015 17:05:04 UTC
Scott, if my notebook looked like yours, that would be my source of stress! I do frequently sync subtask items to paper though, because it's exhilarating to either "check off" or "cross out" items that as I complete or cancel them. It feels even better to physically tear out an entire sheet of paper and throw it in the recycle bin. I don't get the same satisfaction from right-clicking and deleting items on a screen.
Friday, 29 May 2015 17:11:42 UTC
I worked on a contract for Amazon a couple years back. Whatever material they used for their walls, every wall in every room could be written on with standard erasable markers. It was so convenient to take notes on them and be able to just look around the room for quick reminders instead of flipping through a notebook or pulling up reference files on the computer.
Friday, 29 May 2015 17:50:01 UTC
I love spreading out a giant roll of paper and using that as an infinite canvas whenever I'm trying to brainstorm ideas. It's a great size for mind maps

Ikea sells these for just five bucks.
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20152281/

And when you're not using it you can let the kids doodle all over the thing.
Friday, 29 May 2015 18:34:07 UTC
I keep a ream of 11x14 paper behind my desk so I can grab and start "scribbling" my ideas. Always helps me get a handle on things.
J
Friday, 29 May 2015 18:35:10 UTC
11x17, not 11x14
J
Friday, 29 May 2015 19:05:59 UTC
I am absolutely the same, and as a left hand writer find myself in a need of a good pen. My pen is a fountain pen (Lamy 2000) this controls my bad hand writing. It is very interesting that NPR did this week a short series about paper. They mention a phenomena called “The Theory of Desirable Difficulty”
“In A Digital Chapter, Paper Notebooks Are As Relevant As Ever” http://www.ideastream.org/news/npr/408794237
http://www.psychologyinaction.org/2011/01/04/desirable-difficulties-in-the-classroom/
Thanks Scott for vindicating me now I am a dinosaur with references …..
Cheers Kobi
Kobi Eisler
Friday, 29 May 2015 19:58:46 UTC
Scott,
I think I have gone through an evolution similar to yours.

I started off fully on paper with the old Filofax system.. yes, I'm a bit old... followed by a customized Dayrunner porfolio with tons of tabs and color coding. Eventually, I tried (and failed) to move everything to a Casio Organizer (remember those?), followed again with a failed attempt to move everything to a Palm Pilot (although this worked a bit better, and at least I could finally do a bit of "synching" of my calendar and some basic tasks). But I still struggled 'capturing' everything. I made another attempt about 6 years ago to move to a tablet PC with using OneNote for capturing everything digitally.. This worked ok, until I got tired of lugging my tablet around, and realized that I had to go print out all my hand scribbled tablet pages to review what I had written. And the tablet scribble was often harder to read then my hand written scribble, and I found people annoyed if I clicky-clacked the keyboard to take notes during meetings.

So for the past few years, I use a Levenger's Circa notebook as my primary "capture" mechanism. I love it because you can easily add, remove, and move pages around in a circa notebook, and the pre-scored sheets can be easily removed and filed if needed. They have several different page templates you can use (to do lists, blank sheets, half-lined sheets, etc.) This is what I bring to all my meetings and use for conference calls and Webex sessions. All the notes go in my good old Circa. Then, a few times a week, I go through all my notes and either "file" notes that are just informational (into a good old file folder and cabinet), turn certain items into "tasks" (I use Outlook for simple tasks), take "actions" on items for things I need to do, create appointments if needed (Outlook for Work meetings and Hotmail for personal appointments) and update my project plans with any required modifications (I use either Excel or MS Project for project planning, depending upon project complexity). For capturing and organizing web resources, I use Evernote. And for personal "to dos" and "honey do lists", I use Todoist.

But I definitely do agree that there is something special/different about the tactile feedback of "writing" and the open ability to sketch/draw ideas/concepts on a blank page. I can easily cross items out, circle/star important items, and draw silly pictures when bored (.. hey, happens to the best of us..)
Saturday, 30 May 2015 01:15:33 UTC
Great post! I am a pen and paper freak. Always have been But I also love technology. I used every app I could find to organize notes, to do list, etc. with no luck, something missing from each one. I finally went to Office Depot and got a big blotter with graph paper. I created columns for each client and handwrite my to do list. I am able to see all at once what needs to be done for who and by when. I get the satisfaction of checking off items and seeing my accomplishments and also have a hard copy of what I did for each client each month. I am so pleased with this and feel totally organized! Anad with 17 clients and 4 non-profits that I assist this is saying a lot!
Saturday, 30 May 2015 02:02:40 UTC
Pen to paper will soon be a dying breed ! The new generation will not know what pen to paper feels like and will never know how rewarding it can be and therapeutic to. I have kept up with a hand written journal going for 40 years and like a paper back book over eBooks I prefer to relax with . Nothing like either of them !
Country Gal
Saturday, 30 May 2015 07:15:13 UTC
Bingo. I too use pen & paper for personal accounts & calendar. I've 4 calendars and it is difficult to see everything in one place. Calendar sync in mobile is great but it has lot of clutter. For example too much birthday events. So, I use wall-calendar or print blank calendar from Outlook and write down my details there.
Saturday, 30 May 2015 09:10:00 UTC
The 11" laptop is part of the "less is more" "reality distortion field" that pollutes both design and business thinking while ignoring modern science on how the human brain actually works.

"The Social Life of Paper" is an amazing summary of the "The Myth of the Paperless Office" and you will find that science agrees with your conclusions about paper.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2002/03/25/the-social-life-of-paper

I suspect that the Surface Hub will still not have enough organizing resolution to match paper but a version 2 of the Hololens with overlay resolution to match paper might just have what it takes or at least assist in some useful way.



Don
Saturday, 30 May 2015 09:59:30 UTC
Paper is great - but it has the major disadvantage of disappearing after a while (at least for me). That's why I like OneNote. If I need something I wrote down a year (or 5) ago, it's right there (and searchable).
But you're right - paper is very good for sketching out ideas and other non-permanent things.
However, I'm finding a Surface and OneNote provides the best of both worlds right now. The fluent handwriting/drawing experience of paper along with everything being securely archived digitally. Of course you're still looking at it though a small display, but I don't find that so limiting, since I'm mostly writing notes on A4 or A5 paper, and the Surface Pro 3 is about the size of an A4 sheet of paper.
Asbjørn
Sunday, 31 May 2015 18:28:51 UTC
What a great article! I totally agree, paper is a crucial part of my toolbox as a software developer and consultant. Especially this:

The physicality of it is very satisfying in a visceral way.


exactly reflects why I use pen and paper. There is no way I can switch between text and graphics digitally as fast as on paper. It's not only the high resolution of paper, but also the direct contact of the pen's tip against the paper that makes a huge difference. The Surface is getting close, but it's still the sheet of glass that separates you from the content you're creating.

I've tried OneNote and it simply doesn't work for me. Evernote is my digital tool of choice. It's simpler and less cluttered than OneNote IMO, and I use it mainly to store and label the paper drawings and notes that I scan with the Scannable app.

Apart from being convenient to use and carry around, the Moleskine notebook is simply a well crafted product that feels good to use. This makes all the difference for me.

I can really recommend looking at Mindmapping as a form of note taking. It helps me think about problems more clearly. People often make fun of me when I open my laptop sleeve, which -besides my MacBook - contains a set of pencils, coloured Stabile fineliner pens and Stabilo felt-pens:

picture of my laptop sleeve and moleskine

But they're a first class part of my toolbox, just like Visual Studio, Xamarin or Evernote are.

Thanks for this post!
Monday, 01 June 2015 01:25:54 UTC
Great post! I'm a techie that carries a notebook everywhere. I'll use mind mapping tools to put my random mind into some kind of order, but always sync to paper notes and drawings.

Have you guys tried complementing the notebook with a fountain pen?
Aziz
Monday, 01 June 2015 17:27:02 UTC
Our agile team stand up meetings are significantly more productive when we switched from electronic boards to 4x6 printed cards attached to a marker board. The electronic agile board / kanban board prompted less verbal input from team members than paper.
Tod
Monday, 01 June 2015 22:07:32 UTC
This works for me too. OneNote or any other diverges my thought process. It also constraints your imagination, thoughts and drawings. There are many articles written on hand and brain connection and how beneficial it is.
Adnan
Monday, 01 June 2015 23:25:20 UTC
Nice post! In fact I always thought that it is only me who is still using paper! That is good that we stil have ink pens and papers!
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 18:36:36 UTC
Your printing would have been better had you taken drafting in 9th grade. I'm always thankful for that class.
Scott
Thursday, 04 June 2015 13:08:47 UTC
This post is great! I actually do the exact same thing, but I never really realized what I was doing. Now it's easy to look back and realize that I feel much less stressed/worried after I put things on paper. There are even times where I will make a list and throw it away immediately. Just writing it down makes me confident that I've got it together. Glad it's not just me!
Thursday, 04 June 2015 20:54:16 UTC
I'm always teasing my wife about her refusal to use electronic calendars as well as her desire to purchase custom paper planners that cost more than I used to make in an entire paycheck. She did, however, get me an Echo as a gift so I've recently been doing the reverse; I record on paper and then sync to digital. It's quite awesome to be able to record everything on paper and easily digitize it for sharing amongst my many devices. I've definitely found that it helps me retain what I write.
Friday, 05 June 2015 15:46:51 UTC
I'm getting rid of paper, there no way I want to sync back to it. Its a shame that with all the analytics tools out there there is no app that does this 'big picture' digitally. A wiki kind of does it, but tools like evernote, etc only give you tags.

Building links and showing connections between ideas seems like something that should be easy to do digitally.
Bob
Saturday, 06 June 2015 02:36:34 UTC
I bought the hobonichi techo (with the cult following) from Japan. I have started tracking my whole life in this book. I find it very relaxing, to see a blank piece of paper without ads and popups. I often find people reading my book and smiling, as I often write random happy thoughts in it daily. At the end of every year I can bind it, archive it and refer to it often. Instructions for how to operate my tech gear, and passwords (stuff I can't remember) are in there as well. The best part is I've have now learned the days of the week in Japanese as a bonus.
jinkib
Saturday, 06 June 2015 04:54:54 UTC
Excellent idea! I have been in stressful situations like the ones you mentioned, more than a few times. Will definitely try this to see if it helps. Definitely like the idea of removing the tech aspect of it, really love it.

Your keynote at BUILD 2015 was really good.

Cheers!
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 11:39:24 UTC
Sure I do. My favourite tools are a blank piece of paper and my fountain pen. Helps me clearing the clutter. I am a visual learner and it's pretty helpful to dump every bit onto paper, rearrange and condense it dozens of times until it's just right.
Chris
Friday, 12 June 2015 10:59:44 UTC
I found several years ago I was tired of tracking all the bits of paper so I've strived to go completely digital for everything I possibly can. I find I can organize orders of magnitude more information and tuck it away so that if I never need it again... fine. However, I've surprised myself with the things I've found in a simple search and saved myself many times.

Freeform drawing applications aren't quite there, but they are getting awfully close for my needs.

I have never been more organized since I've synced everything possible to digital calendars. If only the different vendors wouldn't insist on shoving THEIR calendar down my throat or THEIR notetaker. It helps to just standardize on one vendor though, even though that's a bit of a sell out position.

Your article and thesis are good. I'm not particularly complaining about it. Everyone must breathe their own way. I simply have gone completely opposite and actually feel more "together" than ever.
Chris Gomez
Sunday, 14 June 2015 08:03:32 UTC
I started using index cards and have never looked back. I've been trying to explain to others why I find them better than Evernote, but I just couldn't find the words. I think you have done it better than I could have!
Thursday, 25 June 2015 19:38:54 UTC
Thanks for the article, and especially the picture of your notebook. You're written words and mini-graphs looks as chaotic and scribbly as mine do. I've always felt self-conscious about that and thought to myself I should really learn to develop prettier, cleaner, more organized note taking ability. (Like Roy C's mind-map example above.) The fact that you can be as productive as you are with your scratches give me hope for myself. :)


"I like the fact that you don't use paper with lines or squares on it, but rather use blank paper as a canvas to let your mind play."

The problem I have with the readily available notebooks is not the lines but their heavy handedness. I like a very fine lined grid background (squares or circles) on the paper. I like how it allows me to draw straighter lines when that's what I want, yet not compromise the ability to bust out of the box with a minimum of friction when flow and free form creativity are the expression of the moment.

Unfortunately I've not found any place to buy paper like this. I make my own templates and print with a laser printer ...but the binding is a problem so I don't do it nearly as often as I'd really like. Slapping the sheets in a duo-tang or 3 ring binder just takes away from the smooth physical experience of good commercial lay-flat binding.

Matt
Tuesday, 07 July 2015 11:42:17 UTC
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.