Becoming a Productivity Ninja

I have always been a proud technology geek. As a young man, the largest part of my wages was spent on the latest “shiny” technology - all in the pursuit of increasing my productivity. Looking back on those years, it wasn’t only expensive, it was exhausting!

I started off with Psion organisers before moving on to my beloved Palm pilot. I’m now using an Android. These new tools were part of my endless pursuit of “Getting Things Done.” As I was exposed to new ideas and technologies, I would constantly refine and adapt my process. This was all part of my quest for “Productivity Nirvana.”

In the last few years, through advances in technology, I have finally found the perfect piece of technology for my needs. This amazing piece of technology has the following features:

  1. Never needs recharging
  2. Never crashes
  3. Works offline - no need for an Internet connection
  4. Supports “Cut” and “Paste”
  5. Highly recommended by respected Thought leaders from multiple disciplines.
  6. Did I also mention it doesn’t crash? - worth mentioning twice :-)

And the name of this amazing technology?

My Moleskine notebook!

Writing in a notepad strips everything down to its simplest components. I don’t spend my valuable time working out how best to use my time. I can concentrate on getting the work done. It’s easy to spend too much time tweaking a productivity system; putting it on paper keeps it simple.

Planning projects on paper has also helped me see things from a new perspective. As a result, when I commit the ideas to an electronic medium, they have already gone through at least one pass-through on paper. Writing also slows me down, providing clarity of thought while I write up my notes, ideas and projects.

I’m in great company as a user of a notepad. Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre and Benjamin Franklin all carried notebooks around with them and it’s hard to argue the success they achieved. :-)

If you’re interested in joining the paper revolution, here are some tips and links to great resources:

  1. Number your pages and leave a couple of pages blank at the front of your notebook. Use them to build a “Table of Contents.” I maintain a spreadsheet in Google Docs of all my notebooks and indexes. I find it helpful to print it out and paste it inside the front cover when the book is full.
  2. Buy some sticky tabs and leave a couple in the back pocket or inside back cover. They are useful as bookmarks to your notes.
  3. Flip it upside down and from the back cover write your “To Do” items. When your task list catches up with your notes section, it is time to buy a new notebook.
  4. Don’t be afraid to “Cut and Paste.” My notebook is full of function references and cheat sheets. If you use a Moleskine notebook, you can download and print templates from their website to stick in to your notebook.

Below are a few great Starting places to join the Back to Paper Revolution:

  1. PigPog PDA - Using Moleskines for “Getting Things Done”.
  2. Freelance Switch - Monster List of Moleskine tips
  3. 43 Folders - Moleskine Productivity Tips.


About the Author: 

Andy is a Drupal Consultant at MediaCurrent and has over 25+ years in the software development industry. He specializes in Drupal, database and information architecture with a dash of security and usability thrown in the mix. Born in the UK and now living in Atlanta. You can read his blog or follow him on Twitter @BohemianPixel.

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