When I hear the word technology today, I think of smart phones, iPads, electronic books, face-time, online meetings and a whole plethora of modern day marvels. Today, it seems that everyone has moved to the digital world. I’m all about saving the planet, but it has created an excess of electronic clutter. Clutter on a computer or website is everywhere and is very distracting.
A leader’s best form of technology is PAPER. Most people don’t think of paper as a technology, but it’s one of the greatest inventions ever made. Paper took us from writing on the side of cave walls with a chisel to millions of libraries, books, and new multimillion dollar businesses created in the last century.
A person approached me recently, explaining how stressed he was. He told me how much he had on his mind and the amount of personal, along with professional, tasks he had to do on his plate. I told him to write everything he had to do down on a sheet of paper, and once they are all written down, organize them in order of importance. When he did this, his problems didn’t go away, but he eliminated his mind clutter and was able to start working on the list starting with the most important task. He was able to reduce his anxiety by writing down the things that were on his mind and was able to focus on a single task at a time without the worry of forgetting something.
I personally use a journal to get my thoughts on paper. While I’m struggling with my handwriting trying to articulate my ideas, there’s something kinesthetic that happens as my thoughts travel through my mind, to my hand, through my fingers, out the pen, and onto the paper. I retain the information much better. I’m also able to focus on the complexity of a situation and understand it enough to make it simple when communicating it to others. If you can’t explain something in simple terms, the truth is that you don’t understand it very well. I heard John Maxwell recently say, “Educators want to make the simple very complicated and great communicators want to make the complex very simple.”
This also helps me with overcoming the law of diminishing intent. Once I write something down in my journal, it allows me to go back to the idea and expand on it at a later date. When I don’t write something down, my intentions of doing something with it starts to diminish, and over time the intentions of working out something incredible disappears all together.
This week, try thinking on paper. What a great gift you can give yourself and what an even better gift you can leave behind.