A friend recently asked me for tips about keeping things “organized,” like how to capture information you come across daily so that you can find it later. I suggested some things like Backpack and Google Notebook, but it got me to thinking about my own move in recent months back to pen and paper as my primary organizational tools. I’ve spent my share of time and money on stuff like PDAs and organizational software, but I’m finding that I’m just more productive with a notebook and handwritten to-do list.
In this move, I was inspired by Bill Westerman, a previous “Big Palm Fan” who moved back to paper (check out his backstory here). Among other things, he writes that he “yearned to get back to scribbles, circles, arrows, and BIG FAT underlines when things were REALLY IMPORTANT.”
Of course, any system you could come up with will enable and constrain different practices. I used to value the sense of order imposed by technological tools, but now I think I prefer the freedom a blank piece of paper provides.