Sync to Paper
Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by the massive amount of digital tools I have at my disposal to solve a particular problem. What was originally meant to be a time-saving tool-set can quickly dissolve into a morass of confusion and frustration. When the tools themselves become a hindrance to you it’s time for a change, even if it is only temporary.
The solution I try as a first-resort is to sync to paper. Syncing to paper is no more complicated than it sounds, you simply take whatever problem you are working on digitally (code, design, project plan, article, etc.) and re-frame it using pencil and paper.
I frequently find myself syncing to paper in order to remove the technical clutter from my life and approach a problem through a new lens. I’m always surprised how physically writing down (and sometimes talking through) a problem on paper will immediately make something apparent to me that I had previously been overlooking.
I also really like how temporary paper feels. If I am working on something that is physically outside the main problem space then I can throw it away when I’m done and move on. I am freed from the stress of having to make this particular piece of my work “presentable”.
Writing things down on paper is also painful, it starts physically hurting after you have been writing, sketching, and erasing without relaxing. This helps keep you focused on the things that matter by not writing down the things that don’t.
Finally, paper is limitless. You can do things on paper that you can’t do in software. You can also see more of it at one time. You can hang it on the wall and lay it out on the floor. Paper is practical in a way that a monitor can never be.
Next time you are stuck on a problem and can’t seem to get past the keyboard/screen approach, try syncing to paper for a fresh perspective.