Ye blog of Adam Wright

DIY, tutorials, stuff for geeks, all updated when I have the time to spare.

Debating Migrating to a Pen and Paper Todo List

Moleskin-NotebookReading these Lifehacker “How I Work” series posts about famous/successful internet people and the way they work (computers/phones/gadgets they use, where they work, what their home/office desk looks like, what tools/apps/tricks they couldn’t live without, etc) has me thinking about a few things considering the way I work.

For one, these people all make me feel and look super lazy and inconsequential. Being a nerd reading this stuff is what I have to assume current day writers feel when reading autobiographies of famous writers past and present. Its almost depressing honestly. Also, I’ve noticed that like 90% of them use the same combo for their day-to-day; MacBook laptop, iPhone, and paper/pen for their day-to-day todo list. Now, I could never use an Apple product as my everyday machine, not because they’re “stupid” but because they’re just too simple and “point-and-click” for me. I like to understand and be a part of my operating system and know what my computer is doing and how it works, as well as customize the hell out of it to my crazy dreams. In my experience, most Apple product users can’t tell you where the hard drive is in their laptop, they just know its the new 15 inch model and it has an iCloud.

The important and useful information I’ve taken away from reading these articles is that most successful people don’t rely upon a software-based todo list, which really surprised me, given that there’s so many out there nowadays. I’ve tried most of the big namers like RTM, Todoist, and my current one, Google Tasks. Google Tasks is great because there’s plenty of support for it and it syncs well since its, duh, a Google product (also it shows up in my Gmail so whenever I have a Gmail tab open I have my email, calendar, projects, tasks, contacts, and Gchat all in one tab). However, there’s this disconnection from what you have in your brain in a given moment and what you can type nicely formatted into a software-based todo list. For a little while I’ve been toying with the faint idea of going back to pen and paper for my todo list, but I can’t get past the idea of not having it synced online automatically with all my devices in case I need to modify it or add to it. On the contrary, using a pen and paper todo list makes editing and keeping track of a todo list much easier. No need to open an app or wait for signal to sync your todo list or fumble with an onscreen keyboard to type a quick sentence that would take just a few seconds to write with pen and paper.

What I think I’m going to compromise on is using one of the new project management systems (i.e. Basecamp, Wunderkit, etc) for my long-term projects and keep my short-term todos in my moleskine. I’ve actually been looking into Trello for awhile and been meaning to throw my projects in there (which are also at this point in Google Tasks) and give it a full-on test run. Here’s to hoping keeping my long-term projects in Trello goes well [and doesn’t bite me in the ass later].

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One response to “Debating Migrating to a Pen and Paper Todo List

  1. Paul 08/22/2013 at 1:32 PM

    I am trying to figure out the same thing. I find electronic to do lists are easier to ignore and not maintain while paper to do lists are easier to use but not always available. I’m torn between the two but am finding that paper is generally better for me. However, now that I’m married I’m looking at to do lists I can share with my wife (Asana). The hardest part is starting these things I guess.

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