A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The motivations of digital-to-paper converts (updated)

When I started this blog around five months ago, I planned to write more about . . . planning. Specifically, planning with paper. Even on an anonymous blog, however, I find myself reluctant to get very personal about it, because that means covering the failures as well as the successes. Besides, I found my interests unexpectedly hijacked by fountain pens and inks.

Today, I ran across a blog post that's making me think about writing more on planning and organizing. As I read it, I said "Yes! Yes!" over and over, because the point of the post is so in sync with the tagline of my blog — "A technophile attorney rediscovers the joys of pen and paper — especially notebooks!"

The post I'm talking about is Why techies are leading the back-to-paper movement, a guest post at Communication Nation by Douglas Johnston of D*I*Y Planner. As the title implies, it makes the point that those who advocate and practice paper planning are not limited to a few stray luddite holdouts resisting technology they don't want to learn, like those lawyers who refused even to have a computer on their desks when I started practice nearly 20 years ago. There is an entire movement of people returning to paper from digital, driven in part by how Johnston describes "the trouble with technology":
While I would carefully set up my list of 50-odd next actions, prioritising them, categorising them, setting alarms, and syncing between all the technology tools I had at my fingertips, Bettina would just glance at her book and get things done. This is not to say I was a slacker -- on the contrary, I did manage to plough through an extraordinary amount of work and training-- but a certain needless percentage of my time was spent tweaking my productivity system and trying to make it all work smoothly as a whole, mostly after-hours.
That said, I'm here to tell you first hand that converting to paper doesn't automatically cure the problem Johnston cites. It's possible to tinker with paper planning as much as with digital, with the same adverse effects. Paper advocacy online is a huge irony generally, but a more specific one in my case is that the tinkering I hoped to avoid by converting to paper has followed me to my new medium. I could spend days exploring around the D*I*Y Planner Forums looking for all the components of my perfect paper solution. (Grabbing that link just now, I was tempted to linger there!)

I'd like to expand on the point, and give my take on some other points raised in Johnston's post, but I'll leave that for future posts. Right now (again, somewhat ironically), I'm headed to an L.A. stationery store to check out some notebooks!

Thanks to Paper Notes in a Digital World for leading me to Communication Nation, and to The Pen Addict, whose weekly Ink Links post led me to Paper Notes. Hey, digital isn't all bad!

Update (7/25/10): Well, this is a little embarrassing, but that Communication Nation post is 5 years old! I assumed it was newer because Paper Notes said, in a post dated five days ago, that the article was about a month old. But the Paper Notes post was a apparently a repost from the archives.

Interesting, though, that there was nothing in the content to make it obvious that the post was five years old.  This tug-of-war between digital and paper doesn't really change.


1 comment:

  1. Hello there...Sorry I caused a problem for you. You are right that I had archived the old TP site and when I imported them over, it dated them as being July, 2010. Maybe it was a good thing as it gave notice to a really great post from Communication Nation (you're right, the guest post was timeless). Thanks for reading and I'm glad you found me. I'll be reading you as well. Keep on writing!