Paper can be soothing

I'm the poster child for digital everything: paperless office, Evernote, DayOne, blah blah blah. Imagine my shock and horror when I found that I could have NO electronic devices whatsoever at my new job. They don't like cell phones in prisons. By "don't like" I mean it's a felony if you have one. I felt bereft. CUT OFF.

You have to find SOME use for all those Apple stickers, right?

You have to find SOME use for all those Apple stickers, right?

For the first time in more than a decade I had to get a paper planner, on which I affixed an Apple sticker just to make me feel a little better. (For the curious, I got a Moleskine 2014 Weekly Planner+Notes, so it has a week on one side and a blank page on the other for each week.

At first I felt tortured. E-mail appointments had to be penned in and not just autodetected and put into my calendar. I had to manually enter repeating things that I cared about (like my grandma's birthday and such). Repeating to-do's made me want to weep.

I exaggerate but a little. I have spent huge chunks of my life wasting time on figuring out how to be more electronically productive, and here I am with a NOTEBOOK.

Now after a couple of months, I find it oddly soothing to write things down and flip through pages. It's ended up doubling as a journal, and that's kind of cool. I never flip back through an electronic calendar.

I keep my tasks in three ways: those that HAVE to be done on a certain day, I write on that day. This makes me feel much more committed than adding it to Reminders. Those that I need to do at some point that week go on the blank facing page with a dash before them. When they're done the dash becomes a plus. If I fail to do it it becomes an arrow and I transfer it to the next week. So I can track of how lazy I am. That's not the POINT, but it's sort of handy. Finally, I keep a few little sticky notes stuck to the back page with repeating things. I stick them to the week and when they're done I unstick them.

To my great shock, this is a workable system. The Moleskine came with a miniature book that slips into the back pocket, and I wrote a few contacts in there that I might need to call from work. Works fine.

You can apparently teach an old dog new tricks. By the way, we also use all-paper charting, and I have come to like the pen-over-paper feeling. It really is...soothing, somehow. We're switching to EHRs soon like everyone else, and that'll be fine, but I think the phenomenon is interesting.