Getting Things Done-Paper & Pixels

Matt Stauffer

For years I’ve bounced from one task management application to another. Some are great for entering tasks but terrible for managing them; others are great at pestering me but aren’t flexible enough for my constantly-shifting schedule. I currently use Things, and while I’m satisfied that it provides as much as any piece of software could, there still seems to be something missing.

My mixed system

I’ve recently started using Things to manage my overall to-do list, but only for capture and organization; then, every morning I sit down in front of Things and write out that day’s to-do list on an index card. That is my authoritative to-do list for the day, and I can relish the experience of striking my pen powerfully through each completed task. In the evening I update my Things list, adding and removing items and re-organizing my master list, getting it ready for the next morning’s task decisions.

The Shallows

There’s been some buzz around the Internet around a book called The Shallows [affiliate link] which cites research showing that the medium with which something is communicated is almost as important to our brains as is the message. The conclusion is that reading and writing on physical paper allows for deeper and longer-term learning and connections, whereas screen-reading and -writing fosters shallow learning. C.J. Chilvers has written a great post about how reading The Shallows prompted him to switch from using his computer for tracking tasks to now relying entirely on paper.

Best of both

I couldn’t make the jump fully back to pen & paper, but I think there might be something in that research that led me to my index-card solution. Like me, blogger Aaron Mahnke has found that a combination of electronic and physical to-do lists–“Paper & Pixels,” as he creatively puts it–has the potential to harness the best of both worlds. Check out his short essay “Paper & Pixels” for more ideas and details on how he makes his system work.

Do you manage your tasks electronically or the old-fashioned way–or both? What prompted your decision to do so?

By Matt Stauffer | Posted: Mar 14, 2011
Category: Time & Task Management | Tags: , , , | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Stéphane
    March 15, 2011, 9:02 am | Permalink

    I use this electronic system to manage my tasks:


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