I advocate that using a conventional notebook is one way to reduce business email overload. What will you do with an extra 45 minutes a day every working day? That’s what I asked participants at my PA-Life Training session this week. The top three responses were:
Pukka Pads, one of my sponsors, provided some executive pocket notebooks as prizes for the day. One went to the ‘walk’ response. Why?
The digital invasion was predicted to kill off the stationary business. However, look around a meeting or the office generally. It never ceases to amaze me the high percentage of business people who use a pen and notebook instead of a digital device. Recent statistics revealed that paperback book sales are rising instead of declining. Judging by the number of notebooks and pens on office desks and given away as marketing gizmos I suspect the same is happening to stationary. Let’s hope notebooks and pens continue to help reduce the rising volume of emails too.
What do you prefer to use when either walking or in a meeting – pen and notebook or electronic device?
To use an e-notebook or conventional notebook that is the question facing business and educational institutes. Electronic notebooks such as OneNote have many advantages and especially for keeping track of useful web-based material (eg links and videos). Indeed I love OneNote for storing and sharing such content. Having my iPad in a meeting means files can be instantly accessed. Meeting notes produced as the meeting proceeds and shared instantly at the close.
However, they also have some significant drawbacks. Not least the temptation to multi-task. You pretend you are listening and taking notes but in reality you are checking emails and social media sites. Not very productive use of anyone’s time and especially yours. Indeed some university lecturers have banned the use of such devices in an attempt to encourage more conversations and networking.
Conventional notebooks offer many different benefits. Taking notes helps improve memory and concentration. You could argue that this is device independent. But in my case, writing and mind mapping helps clarify my thinking. Perhaps because I have to concentrate that bit more with no spell-checker. Also there are no distractions (from new emails and social media alerts) which proves to be a major drain on productivity.
Drawing and colouring can on the one hand help us relax and on the other rev up our creative juices. Useful in a meeting/lecture where either you want to tune out as it’s boring or the reverse because you have an idea to contribute and need to crystallise it before speaking. Though taking a colouring book into a meeting might look just as odd as peeking at social media.
One other drawback of a note book is that they can look boring and samey. If you are not careful you might end up walking off with the wrong notebook and leaving your most personal secrets in someone else’s hands. It has happened to me!
The other day I wandered into Pukka Pads who sponsored my latest book ‘Taking Control of Your Inbox‘ to collect some paper. There in the design room was the answer to my prayers – a ‘Colouring Project Book’. It has the most amazing Doodle Bar on each page which you can colour as you go along and hence improve your creativity and concentration. If like me you always have coloured pens for note-taking no one will know what you are doing.
The front can be coloured so you know it’s yours. Opening a personalised notebook is a quick way to be noticed and stand out from the crowd. Until now such stationary was very expensive and beyond the means of most mere mortals.
For me using a conventional notebook always helps improve my concentration, creativity and gives me confidence. In a meeting and when I walk around client’s offices I can make notes whilst maintaining eye contact and listening with no worries about finding the right app, being distracted and checking on battery life.
And here is a mega anti-cyber crime bonus: in a public place if you want to make notes, conventional notebook are more secure because the prying eye of the cyber criminal cannot check your writing strokes as they can your key strokes.
What do you prefer a conventional paper notebook or electronic one?
Email addiction is one of the underlying causes of email and information overload. A constant theme in workshops over the past few weeks, has been thinking outside the inbox and using alternatives to email, be it for either communications or keeping track of the to-do-list. Many and especially Generation Z onwards are now hardwired to their mobile devices. Indeed some may have even lost the ability to write with anything other than a keyboard.
Yet, traditional writing implements are having a huge resurgence. There are websites dedicated to note books and sales of fountain pens are booming. Some would argue that pen and paper are for dinosaurs, but would you call Sheryl Sandberg one? She admits to using a traditional notebook and pen to keep track of her to-to-list and make quick notes.
Pen and paper has many advantages over technology some of which have been expounded in previous blogs. From a personal perspective the top five benefits are:
When is the notebook mightier than email and how can it help reduce email addiction and overload. Here are five ways I use my trusty notebook and fountain pen rather than email.
Yes, I do use OneNote but mostly to save web-related materials, links to web sites and digital pictures. Call me a dinosaur if you like, but in my view, pen and paper is often mightier than email and digital devices.
Good fortune too is on my side as BomoArt, one of the leading producers of fine stationary is my sponsor. One of their Memo books is always to hand and a leather bound journal serves as my day book.
Do you ever use pen and paper in preference to email? If so do tell us how and for what purpose.
This month it’s quality not quantity. Just four on the bookshelf and in the briefcase.
1) H for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. How she trained a goshawk and her relationship with Mabel (the goshawk) to overcome her grief at her father’s unexpected and sudden death. An utterly absorbing book with many lessons about life and indeed how to change behaviour.
2) Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains by Susan Greenfield. Greenfield poses many thought provoking questions about the effect on our behaviour and society. Not surprisingly, answers are not always given, rather you are left to draw your own conclusions. Still a very worthwhile and informative read.
3) Four Quartets by T.S Eliot. Being a scientist reading classics were missed out of the curriculum. Something Michael Gove might have had something to say about. This was one and hence its arrival now on the reading list. Magical and worth investing the time if you like me missed out in your youth.
4) Virginia Woolf – Art, Life and Vision by Frances Spalding. This is the catalogue of magnificent and enlightening exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It is a must for any Bloomsbury Group aficionado. It also reminds you yet again of the power of pen and notebook and breath taking command of the English language.