These days, there is an app for everything. To be honest, I’ve probably used it. Maybe you have too. There was a time – not too long ago – when I was seriously committed to reaching a paperless state.
But, I’ve changed my mind.
Even as technology has finally made that goal is possible – with products like the iPad Pro – I have realised that it’s not actually desirable.
No matter how much time and money I invest in certain tools and applications, they just aren’t making life or work any easier.
In fact, they are actually making me less effective than I could be.
The Digital Dream
I’ve always been interested in how technology impacts what we think, write and remember.
Ten years ago – as a post-grad student – I dreamt of a world in which everything I read, thought or wrote down was instantly accessible anywhere. The invention of the iPhone and iPad, the rise of cloud computing and the proliferation of mobile data access fuelled my fantasy.
As technology has improved, the closer this dream has seemed. With the release of the latest version of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, it looked like I could finally live in a world with no notebooks, task lists, filing cabinets, books, pens and pencils and all the rest. In fact, I went as far as buying one. And then I took it back.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised:
- My digital task manager wasn’t helping me get things done
- My digital note-taking wasn’t helping me remember things
- The digital noise in my life was distracting – and stopping me from thinking clearly
- I wasn’t enjoying reading ebooks – it was harder to concentrate and remember what I’d read
- The effort and cash I was investing in digital ‘stuff’ really wasn’t delivering the results I need.
So, I started to do some research. And, the facts back me up.
The Science of Analogue and Digital
It’s clear that in some contexts, analogue is more effective than digital.
This is because:
- There’s a different rhythm to physical writing.
- Students who take notes on paper learn ‘significantly more’ than those who use a laptop or tablet – because they are taking time to process and interact with their thoughts, rather than taking dictation verbatim.
- Printed or written text is just more tangible.
- Analogue is much more visible.
- Digital tools create an ‘out of sight out of mind’ problem and the fast and relentless rhythm of the digital world can create multiple distractions that overwhelm us and knock us off course.
The Best Of Both Worlds
I think there’s a blend of old and new technology that creates the secret sauce of productivity, effectiveness and sanity.
So I’ve been experimenting. I’m now operating a ‘hybrid’ model, trying to use the best of digital and the best of analogue. I want the best tool for the right context, information set, task or goal. I’ve become media agnostic.
In future posts, I’ll share the set-up and tools I’m using at the moment, the reasons why and the results that I’m seeing.
I’d love to hear your experiences. Are you seeking digital heaven? Are you holding onto paper, pen and filing cabinet? Are you somewhere in between? What works for you and what doesn’t?Please share your thoughts, wisdom and challenges in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.