Essays on Technology and Culture

Analog Planning for Today and Yesterday, Digital for Tomorrow

Back in November, I started keeping a notebook with the Bullet Journal technique. It’s been a slow process acclimating myself to writing things down when it occurs to me, instead of counting on my memory, or reaching for my iPhone. The earliest entries are a mishmash of things, from important ideas and notes on books, to stuff I could—and should—track elsewhere like my daily steps from my pedometer. Under one day’s entry, I have the line “Nap” for some reason. I guess Past Me took a nap that day. Good to know.

I’ve learned that a notebook isn’t good for how I do work with a larger scope and time frame, but it’s great for figuring out my day-to-day. We keep an editorial schedule at my job, and I’ve taken to writing the day’s items in my notebook each morning. That day’s entry becomes my own form of Patrick Rhone’s “Today Card,” only in a longer-lasting form. When the particular item for that day is done, a quick check in the box lets me know. If there’s any changes from the schedule, or important notes for that day’s projects, I have a way to remind myself.

I could do all of this with OmniFocus, but to capture the daily projects I do at work would be more of a pain to type them in on my iPhone or iPad than to just write the darn thing down. 1 Plus, as nice as it is to go into the “Completed” Perspective in OmniFocus and see all the things I’ve done, having a physical archive just feels better. This is for me, not for anyone else. While it might be nice to imagine scholars or archeologists pouring over the notebooks of some 30-year old Web Producer in the mid-2010s, the benefits of an annotated life are worth it just for me. Future Me will be interested in what Past Me was doing.

Future Me, however, also needs to have things in a trusted system, ready to be viewed when he needs them, pre-broken up into little discrete nuggets of work and time. Future Me needs this so he knows what to do at 10:48 AM, when the creatives for the items on the schedule aren’t in yet. That’s where OmniFocus comes in, and where apps like Daily Routine come in. They give Future Me, who isn’t going to think to flip back a few pages in his notebook just to find the task due by 5PM today that he got two weeks ago, or the right information he needs. Because, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Future Me: he’s just as forgetful as Past Me.

  1. My work computer is a Windows machine, so no OmniFocus for me on it. I bring my iPad to work so I can do any heavy-duty OmniFocus stuff that my iPhone can’t handle.