Can Stationery Make You More Productive?

use a notepad to make a list

How stationery can help you get stuff done


Being effective. Getting stuff done. Doing the things that need to be done and not the tasks that don’t matter. These are possibly rated as amongst the most desired objectives for the majority of people. We are all overwhelmed with the need to get things done and technology is meant to have made our lives easier. So can stationery make you more productive?

Yes, undoubtedly technology has been a benefit to our efficiency but it has also very neatly put greater emphasis on us to manage our own lives – we now organise our own holidays online rather than get a travel agent to do the hard work for us; we have become our own financial experts with online banking but have to constantly juggle accounts and direct debits ourselves; we are tax experts as we have to submit our own tax returns. The list goes on and all technology seems to be doing is adding to the list of ‘things we have to do’.

rhodia goalbook
Rhodia Goalbook - a new way to set out your goals

Now I’m not saying that technology isn’t wonderful or that I don’t wonder how we survived when we had to use a travel agent or had no access to our bank accounts 24 hours a day. But in the midst of it all, we seem to have developed an increasing need to manage our lives. It is notable how the more technology drives our lives, the more we like to try and manage the problem with an analogue solution rather than using yet more technology.

Stationery – much maligned over recent years, scoffed at for its days being numbered, yet actually a means to sorting out the very problems that the digital age, its supposed nemesis, has created. So this post is about how stationery can be used to make our lives a little bit easier.


Use a notepad to make a list
Use a notepad to make a list

At its most basic, stationery is simple, efficient and effective. A pen and some paper get the job done with minimal fuss, and the very act of writing in itself has been shown to aid the process of memory. And let’s not get to issues of battery life, lack of wifi, upgrades and more. A simple to-do list is easy to create, easy to amend, easy to use and easy to complete. Whether it is a shopping list when nipping to Tesco’s or a quick to-do list, having pen and paper handy at all times will make you more efficient.

Bullet Journaling

bullet journaling
Bullet Journaling - The ultimate in list making

Yes, I have mentioned the whole BuJo process. Apologies to Ryder Carroll but it is essentially an advanced form of list-making – he quite rightly argues that the act of writing out daily to-do lists and migrating tasks makes you more focused on what you are actually tasking yourself with doing, and so you also feel more readily inclined to remove tasks. Bullet Journals are far too big a topic to cover here (start reading more here and then see where it takes you) but it is one of the most obvious examples of people using stationery to complement or even replace technology.


sketch out ideas
Visualise it - sketch out your ideas on paper

Many people find that sketching out an idea on paper is so much easier. It helps you visualise an idea or problem. It’s quick, immediate and easy to start again. Visually having something laid out over a page or even both pages as your idea grows makes it easier to understand the whole thing.


diary planning
Use a diary to plan your time

Another topic for another day is how we keep a diary – online, on paper or not at all? Maybe it is a combination of digital and paper, but however you decide to keep track of your time a diary may well be the cornerstone of keeping yourself afloat – just the act of knowing what you have agreed to do at what time. We are seeing an increasing demand for 'traditional' diaries (i.e. paper based), as well as a much bigger range of diaries being made compared to say 10 years ago.

The Pleasure

The mere act of writing can help as well as be enjoyable

There is also something tangible that a pen with some ink on paper can provide that can’t be provided by a computer screen. Some people will lose themselves down that rabbit hole and in doing so efficiency will be lost by becoming a hobby. That’s fine, but even if you stick to writing as a means of being more productive, there is still a pleasure to be had from using a pen you know, writing in a colour you like and writing on paper that works for you. Maybe it handles wet ink well, maybe it has micro-perforated sheets that tear out neatly leaving no trace, maybe it is punched ready to be filed. Go find your ideal pen, ink and paper and see how being efficient can also be a pleasure.

Digital vs Analogue

There is no getting away from the fact that there will be some who say that to reject or even blame technology is being a luddite or burying your head in the sand to progress. On the contrary I am someone who loves their technology as much (well, almost as much) as anyone, and I have an unfulfilled desire to find the perfect app that will deliver untold efficiency. I won’t find it and it will never exist, but I can still go looking. However I also know when to use pen and paper, when it will be more efficient and effective and making me get through everything. The secret is all in the balance between the two, and that balance will vary from person to person. Hmmm...I feel another post coming up on that very subject.

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