Putting some paper back

by Rick Cockram

I’ve been completly paperless in the way I work for a while now. Considering the ammount of my free time I spend thinking about workflows and productivity you’d have thought that I’ve have written more about that and how I do it but there are enough people doing that already. If you want to know more Jamie Todd Rubin’s blog is a great place to start. If you’re interested in productivity type topics and for some reason don’t listen to Back to Work it’s well worth your time. My goal is to make the process of doing the things that I need to do as invisible as possible and to that end I’ve seperated doing things from ingesting productivity tip and tools. As I have a day job that’s pretty simple. If I’m at work I’m using my systems and tools and when I’m not at work I can fiddle.

I recently noticed that there is a gap in my workflow which at the moment isn’t causing me any problems but in the future could turn into a bigger deal. I primarily manage my work (personal and professional) using three tools. A place to write down things I have to do, a place to keep information and a place to keep lists. I don’t use lists for things I have to do because I don’t find them helpful in that regard, lists for me a normally temporary: numbers I have to remember for a task at work or a shopping list for example. I think of the other two elements as linked the things I have to do I think of a questions and the information is the answers.

The tools that I use a pretty irrelevant to be honest but I’ll run over them quickly anyway and cover a bit of my reasoning. Lists must be digital for me, I have to be able to reorganise them and hide completed items, I use Clearhttp://www.realmacsoftware.com/clear/) unless I need to share a list for some reason in which case I just use Reminders on iOS. Things I have to do all go in Omnifocus at the moment. I haven’t taken the plunge and got the full suite so I’m using it on the iOS only and I’m sure I’m missing out but that is partly to reduce the cost and partly because I have to use windows at work anyway. For storing information I’m using Evernote I’ve been a premium subscriber, primarily for offline notes on iOS, for several years now and have a lot of IFTTT feeds to make getting things into it easier.

The part that I think is missing is an easy way to capture commentary on the process. Things to do go straight into Omnifocus, information (including meeting notes, instructions on how to complete tasks and so on) goes straight into Evernote. I have decided that I’m going to introduce a paper process back into my workflow so that I can capture that commentary. It might mean some duplication (depending on how well Evernote parses my handwriting) but it will ensure that the things I keep have more long term value.

To that end I’ve started listening to The Pen Addict podcast to try to get motivated about writing and the tools of writing. I’ve always thought that if I have something beautiful and well made I’m more likely to use it and also there is a better chance of me using it well. Hence my tea sets and my Apple products. There was already a half used Moleskine on my desk so I’m going to try adding some paper back into my life. The first thing I’ve noticed is that after all this time my handwriting isn’t much good.