I love my Apple Tech. I'm constantly fiddling with my setup, looking to find perfection. That's not to say I ignore the analogue. I own a stationery store, for a start. As well as the owner, I am the biggest customer. I do love a notebook. And a pen. And a pencil. Oh, and an index card. I'm sure it's a syndrome.
Every week, I talk with my friend Justin Twyford about productivity. He has the the syndrome too - and can often be found enhancing his Apple setup. We discuss what we are doing to improve, enhance and advance our productivity as people with feet in both the corporate world, and the creative sphere.
A theme throughout our conversations is how to integrate analogue practice and digital workflows. (You can listen to these conversations, expertly produced by Justin, in your podcatcher of choice or at Stationery Adjacent.)
Just yesterday, I finally got around to reading "Steal like an Artist", an excellent short book, by Austin Kleon. Austin has two desks, one analogue, where he creates, and one digital where he publishes.
"When you start to lose steam, head back to the analog station and play."
Sound advice. Writing rather than typing is important to me. It liberates my mind to wander, and even, wonder. However, unless I intend to send these posts out by letter, I also need to embrace the digital.
I spent some time this weekend adapting my workflow. Time to get nerdy...
- Journal. Gratitude, Affirmation and a simple question, "What would make today great?"
- Start working from my Analog index card completed the day before.
- Throughout the day, I use my "daily driver" which is an A5-ish notebook, with my fountain pen of the week (A Twyford innovation). This is a catch-all inbox. I make notes on calls, or listening to podcasts, or anything that comes to mind. I don't edit or self-censor. I don't hesitate, thinking about whether the entry belongs in a calendar or a task manager. Everything goes into the notebook.
- Review notes and events
- Transcribe notes to calendar, task manager or notes app
- Journal. Record 3 wins, 1 thing that I could have done to make the day better. Free-form.
- Prepare next day's Analog Index card.
People will ask - so my current daily driver is a Rhodia Goalbook - for the paper. It's gorgeous. I don't use the calendar pages etc, but it is useful to have page numbers. My pen is a Sailor 1911, but I'll soon be changing to the next one, which will be a Platinum 3776.
I keep the notebook in my Field Journal cover from Lochby, where I have spare index cards and the pen and a pencil. My morning routine happens at the kitchen table or on the terrace with a coffee, so I like a cover.
My index cards are Analog by Ugmonk. Over-engineered, maybe. But they're nice. I prefer pencil for the cards, they're good paper - but can be overwhelmed by big nibs.
Like with analogue kit, I'm not afraid to chop and change with digital tools, but for the moment:
Calendar. I use Apple's default. It's good enough for me. I'd like it to be better, but not enough for me to pay a chunky subscription.
Tasks. I use Things as a repository for all tasks, and refer to it when creating my card for the next day.
Notes. I'm in the process of switching to Obsidian for notes. Largely, because of its portability. The system works on markdown files.
Reviewing my notes at the end of day is critical. I only transcribe the things that I need to. Event? Easy, into calendar. Deadline or task? Into Things. Note? Maybe nothing. I may look at it and decide that no further action is required. Or - I may add it to an existing note in Obsidian, or I may make a short note and why I think it's important enough to preserve.
What do you do? What works for you? Drop me a line or Tweet me @stulennon
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