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36 Comments

Do You Use Paper?

I've been writing on paper lately. Do you use paper as well?

I've used paper for

  • To Do Lists
  • Product Road Maps
  • CRM
  • Design

Doing so makes me realize how much I get distracted.

Without the blinking cursor forcing me to produce, I get to think a lot more about the absolute 1 thing right in front of me. Without new tabs, without the possibility of push notifications, I have no anxiety over missing out.

FOMO be gone!

So many spreadsheets I never used again, are now balled up papers in the trash. Giving me a visceral real life representation of accomplishing "tasks". A paper airplane thrown into the direction of the trashcan feels better than clicking a checkbox.

Less google drive sifting. Less untitled google sheets. For a few weeks I was going to sheet.new more than any other website.

What do you use paper for that others might find weird? or interesting?

  1. 2

    Not a chance. My handwriting is shite.

    1. 1

      This might sound silly, but switching to a fountain pen helped my handwriting. It's a different hand position and I had to almost re-learn how to write to use it. But it worked well. And the cheapest disposable plastic fountain pens are on amazon and great!

      1. 1

        Ahhh quite interesting. I don't have much desire to write things down really, but it's something to consider though! Thanks.

    2. 1

      Ha, I second this. Digital all the way.

  2. 1

    I use paper. I prefer it as it does help me keep focused and I think things click faster when I do.

    So I'll make out ideas or sales email sequences.

    I also brainstorm story ideas for some writing.

  3. 1

    Sometimes I use paper
    Honestly for me at least I think it's the practice of switching contexts, like I'd move to a 2nd non primary laptop, or use my phone, especially out on a walk with the phone..
    It lets me come up with plans and new ways to think about a thing.
    I don't have consistency with something specific that is the separator.

  4. 1

    After trying almost every productivity tools under the sun, Todoist, ClickUp, Trello, Ticktick and much more, I have finally settled with pen & papers for "To Do" Lists.

    There is just no limit as to how I can organize and prioritize my daily/weekly/monthly tasks, work/time-blocking sessions.
    I feel in pain thinking how much time I have wasted trying out all of these apps while the solution was simply going back to the basics.
    At least for me.

    I'll probably get some hate for this one but I even began writing on paper a few lines of "pseudo" code to help me memorize patterns and syntax.

    As someone spending 8hours+/day behind a laptop, it just feels restful to write stuff on papers

    1. 1

      Yes it does feel restful to write on paper!

  5. 1

    I typically have post-it notes on my laptop PC for short lists of things I have to do in the next hour.

    I also perform drafts and blueprints on paper, although I am also quite OK drafting diagrams on Microsoft Powerpoint.

  6. 1

    I used paper for a long time, but recently switched to an ipad with Goodnotes 5, which gives me the flexibility of paper, but makes it super easy to break my notes into useable docs.

  7. 1

    Not really paper, but I use my Rocketbook daily for quick note taking.

    https://getrocketbook.com/pages/how-rocketbook-works

  8. 1

    I generally avoid using paper.

    Sure it is distraction-free to do so and it bears no “scrolling burden” on my eyes to track, but I still use the digital medium only.

    Around 2017 onwards, I stopped buying dead-tree books as well. It just doesn’t feel right.

    I feel as champions of technology we fail at our mission every time we promote a paperback or hardback print book carrying a work of knowledge that’d soon be outdated.

  9. 1

    Not paper, but I've been pretty into e-ink lately, e.g. reMarkable, MobiScribe, etc.

    Downside: price. Upside: all the other things.

    My use cases:

    • taking notes to audio media (podcasts, audiobooks, etc.)
    • taking notes during meetings
    • illustrations, diagrams, mockups, etc. for work and play
    1. 1

      I was really interested in the reMarkable, but couldn't justify the cost vs. a refurbished ipad with goodnotes 5.

      1. 1

        Makes sense. iPads get the job done.

    2. 1

      The only thing I dislike about e-ink devices is that they aren’t a part of the web.

      Such devices lack openness and are generally super incompatible with every other piece of technology out there—aka, brutal proprietary-ness, driving lifelessness of physical paper as the main inspiration etc.

      Edit: I gave my ReMarkable/Kindles away since I would never use them over mobile or my desktop.

      1. 1

        True. In some ways this is an advantage for me though. I like the distraction-free writing environment.

        1. 1

          Do you do most of your writing on a ReMarkable? Or just MoMs or quick scribbles?

          1. 3

            Very case by case. I do 95%+ of my writing in Notion, but I also write a lot overall.

            I use MobiScribe (basically a smaller reMarkable with a backlight feature) to take quick notes when listening to audiobooks and podcasts. And I use the reMarkable whenever drawing is involved, e.g. design mockups.

            For example, here's a reMarkable export of one of the mockups that went into the Indie Hackers Start page last winter:

            Start mockup

  10. 1

    When I try to work on mathy problems I write them in a notebook or paper for full ability to doodle around it, cross out stuff, and other stuff that does not conform well to digital constraints of text having to be placed on a straight line.

    Otherwise never.

  11. 1

    I thought you meant Dropbox Paper :) I use that all the time.

  12. 1

    Paper is love. I do all my planning, note taking and execution on paper and then move it to my notion for the sake of archiving :)

  13. 1

    I love the good ol' notebook, but it isn't searchable. I'm writing everything in my mind to Notion now. I use notebook only when I need to draw something only. But I'm buying a iPad, so sadly, saying goodbye to paper very soon 😎!

  14. 1

    Oh man! Sometimes I have that urge in me to put something on paper!

  15. 1

    I keep a notebook on my nightstand.

    Before I go to bed I write down anything and everything I’m my head. Tomorrow’s todos, things I’m worried about, exciting thoughts.

    Not necessarily a journal, I’m just trying to get stuff out of my head.

    Crazy idea in the middle of the night? Write it down. Who cares if you can barely read it tomorrow. It’s out of your head. And you probably would have forgotten anyway.

    And then I sleep better. Much better.

  16. 1

    How do you keep a global overview? Do you have lists with different timescales for example? Or maybe post-it's on the wall? Because that's my biggest issue with working solely on paper.

    Yesterday I completed a year on paper when I got to the last page of my 200-page dummy. One thing I learned is that paper is better for sketching out ideas, or outlining the work on a specific part a project. But it's hard to maintain a global view on progress.

    To keep a birds-eye view of a complete project, I started using Basecamp recently. Often ideas and outlines start on paper. But once they're shaped, we translate them into digital to-do's and documents.

    I'm very interested to hear how you solve those problems.

    1. 2

      For so long I used index cards and literally wrapped bundles of them together with a rubber band to keep them together. I think i'm using paper to get through a specific problem, and not to keep any global view.

      1. 1

        Makes sense. That's where worked best for me too. Thanks!

  17. 1

    I've gone back to writing lots down on paper lately. Even to the extent of doing daily journalling on paper.

    As others have said, my handwriting has gone to shite from not using it for years, so now I am making a concentrated effort to improve my handwriting deliberately.

    But in doing so, I am finding that writing my thoughts down helps my brain to work a lot better. I find I am expressing myself better in day to day conversations, and coming up with new ideas from doing so.

  18. 1

    Yes.

    I think using pen & paper is best for unstructured, ambiguous tasks or reflection. You can sketch, underline, connect, cross out,... that kind of freedom is not possible in the digital world. Whiteboard can serve for the same purpose.

    I also like small paper cards for daily to-do lists, as I've written about here.

  19. 1

    I have gone back and forth. When my mind was swimming with ideas / projects, I found it useful to capture everything in a moleskine (blank paper, and I used pencil for my notes).

    Now that I'm focused on one product and my thoughts are a bit more structured, I haven't picked up the moleskine in over a year. My kanban is more than sufficient to capture what I need to get done.

    Interestingly, just this week I've thought about picking up the moleskine again because I need to help a friend with a small web project. So I think a pen and paper is good for that stage - early primordial soup stage of ideas where you just need to get everything on paper to make sense of it all.

  20. 1

    In a previous life I used pen and paper to write the manuscript of a 216 pages book that was traditionally published. It was painful and inefficient. I swore I would never touch pen and paper again, so I have been using only digital writing and notetaking tools since PCs and mobile devices became practical and affordable.

    I'm happy now. Using digital tools doesn't limit or affect my ability to focus or think. I actually feel more productive.

    You'll have to pry my digital tools from my cold, dead hands.

  21. 1

    Absolutely. Nothing like a good 'ol notebook.

  22. 1

    Hey Andrew. Yes. I use pen and paper for a daily To-Do list and shopping list. It's brilliant. I haven't found anything better. I've tested Notes, teuxdeux.com and culturedcode.com/things. Online To-lists are too distracting for me. I also use freedom.to to block stuff for some time.

  23. 1

    I still find building wireframes 100x more effective on paper!

    Curious to learn how you're structuring a paper-based CRM. Do you eventually migrate the contacts into a sheet?

    1. 2

      Perhaps CRM is wrong word, because I'm not managing the relationship, i'm merely jotting down "Here's a list of people I need to reach out to today about...." whatever it is I'm doing. I just rip off a sheet of paper, write down 10 names, and cross them off as I reach out.

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