If I had a dollar every time the paper vs. digital task managers debate came up during my coaching calls and workshops, I’d be lying on a beach right now sipping a very fruity cocktail:)
It makes sense why this question surfaces so often.
There are so many paper planners and digital task managers to choose from it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
And given that so many of the newest options leverage sleek, fun technology there can be a lot of pressure to jump on the digital bandwagon.
Not to mention that every time you turn around someone is claiming to have developed the perfect new task manager planner, app, software program, etc.
It can be so tempting to think “Hmmm…maybe THIS is the tool that will finally make everything click for me!”
There Is No Silver Bullet
The truth is there isn’t a magic silver bullet task manager out there that is going to deliver you to organizational bliss.
Imagine that your task management system is a jigsaw puzzle – the tool you use is just one piece of that puzzle. It is an important piece but there is a whole lot more that goes into creating a successful task management system (click here if you are ready to learn how to do this).
This is one of the most important things to realize when you find yourself agonizing over the different task managers out there:
The task manager you use is not what makes the system work. The system is what make your task manager work.
The other thing to remember is that your task management tool has to work with who you are and how you operate. Are you a visual person? Kinesthetic? Does writing help you remember? Does paper make you cringe?
Trying to squeeze yourself into a system that doesn’t support how you think is a recipe for endless frustration and stress.
So how do you decide which format is best for you?
With these critical points in mind take a look at the table below where I have outlined for you some of the common advantages and disadvantages of each format.
Do you lean one way or the other after reviewing this list?
Here is a mini-quiz to clarify your preference even further:
- Think back to the various task managers you have used. Which elements worked the best for you (even if the system itself wasn’t ideal)?
- When someone stops by your desk and asks you prepare a report, how do you first capture that task? Sticky note? iPhone? Where does it go?
- When did you last feel most in-control of your tasks? What type of system were you using then?
- If technology were no longer an option would you be more relieved or frustrated?
Interpreting Your Answers
- If you’ve had success with a paper system in the past and that is your go-to way of tracking information, you are inherently a paper person and need to embrace this.
- If you loved your Palm Pilot from the start and despise paper to your core than you are clearly a digital organizer
- If you are still unclear then you would most likely benefit from a hybrid system for tracking your tasks and schedule.
Here is the most critical takeaway:
It isn’t about finding the best task management tool out there; it is about finding the best task management tool for you.
Hopefully you are more clear about where you fall when it comes to organizing your tasks digitally or on paper.
Your next step is to experiment.
Select a task manager, commit to it for 1 month and then watch yourself.
Notice what works and what doesn’t. Are you tracking all that you need to? Are you getting things out of your head on a regular basis? Does this system feel good?
At the end of the month tweak your system based on what you noticed or select a new task manager and start over. This is how you slowly and intentionally build a system that is customized to your life – one that will actually last.
Are You Ready To Upgrade Your Time Management Systems?
If you are ready to put ALL the pieces together of your time and task management system I encourage you to check out my digital workbook on Amazon.com called True For You Time Management. It walks you through the process of building a time and task system that really and truly works for you. Click here to check it out.
If you’d prefer to have immediate feedback as you build your system click here to learn about my productivity coaching programs.