In the steady acceleration of life, digitization has grown exponentially. Computers of all sizes and functions virtually connect us, addict us, and create new neuroses we never knew we had.
Smartphones and computers are great for many things, no doubt. Open Table reservations? Love it. Hopping around the globe, window shopping from my bed? Fantastic.
Last fall I knew I’d reached my maximum extension point for obligations and responsibilities, and I needed an external brain other than my phone to help organize me. Not only do I have a full time job, but I share the responsibility for executing Gasparilla Art Show with just four other people (two other co-chairs, a president and vice president), try to maintain this blog, and was working on a bigger and better pop-up retail event (which happens to be in just over a week!).
For Christmas, I asked for a leather-bound agenda planner from Graphic Image. If nothing else, it could be my jot pad for random thoughts. A catch-all for those moments when tapping a tiny screen is dangerous, painful on the eyes, or plain rude.
Going analog is the best thing I did in the new year. Though some of its functions are redundant, the benefits outweigh the costs.
For one, tactile pleasure matters to me, and it should to you too. Graphic Image doesn’t make the most expensive or luxurious agenda planners, but they’re US-made of fine, aromatic leather that you just don’t find with cheaper alternatives. At under $100, I enjoy its quality feel, but won’t lose sleep if it gets scuffed.
I write in it with my favorite brand of pen, the Muji 0.5mm black gel. Once you find a pen you like, all other pens feel unnatural. As a visual learner, I am convinced that the written word stays on my memory better than any virtual appointment. Indeed, studies have corroborated that finding (here and here). I have always been a note-taker, but now more than ever, pen and paper just feels right.
For posterity sake, I would defend the scribbled calendar, which indicates the passage of time, because there is clearly an emotional attachment to handwriting. I remember as a kid, observing my mom’s handwriting, how beautiful it was. And, inspecting my own handwriting for similarities to hers, which are now more apparent. We both notate in a print-sign hybrid, with loops and connected letters.
One of my favorite relics of her life, that I will inevitably inherit, is her address book, which was useful in the time before e-mail accounts and smartphones. Hers is hardcover, made of floral fabric, overstuffed through the years so much that is has burst at its binding. Now, it is held loosely together with threads of fabric and the indication of a life richly shared with others, across families and friends homes and across continents.
If you too are reaching a crescendo in life that warrants simplification, an analog organizer may be the remedy for you.
It certainly was for me.