We use technology for everything. We use it to manage our communication, organize our finances, keep track of our schedules and even supplement our social lives. Email, word processing, social networking sites and Google have become mainstays in our daily lives. This week, I found that sometimes unplugging for an afternoon can do wonders for our time management.
My Unplugged Afternoon
I am teaching a few college classes in the near future and was struggling to come up with a course calendar. I sat staring at the blank Microsoft Word screen for 20 minutes as that blinking cursor seemed to mock me. Keeping Facebook, Gmail and other Time Killers at bay was becoming a strain.
Finally, I just couldn’t look at a computer screen anymore. I slammed my laptop shut, grabbed a notebook and pen, and went downstairs.
I suddenly felt more productive. Not only were some of my distractions instantly removed, but I somehow felt more free to brainstorm with a pen in my hand rather than a keyboard.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you trade an afternoon with your computer for a much cheaper “tablet.”
1) Faster Isn’t Always Better
Initially I was hesitant to do my work on paper because I can write so much faster on a computer. However, I realized that if I wasn’t writing anything I was wasting far more time than the extra few moments it takes me to form letters with a pen. The pen and paper method works great for planning, outlining and brainstorming. I could then use my computer to quickly type up my plan later.
2) A Change of Scenery is Key
Even if you have a laptop, you are still somewhat limited as to where you complete your work. You don’t want to be too far from a power outlet, nor do you want to be anywhere it could get easily damaged. Using a pen and paper eliminates those problems. Sometimes just being in a new place is enough to kick-start your productivity.
3) Technology is a Tool
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that we are still the ones doing the work. Technology is a tool we frequently leverage to help us, but we need not feel lost without it for a few hours. Sometimes getting off our desktops for a bit helps us better tap into our own personal computer that rests on our shoulders.
To be clear, I am a huge fan of technology and do not plan on throwing my laptop away any time soon. However, my “unplugged” afternoon was extremely productive. I plan to make another date with my pen and paper next week, and I encourage you to do the same!
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