Computers are a great tool, but they can tend to make it hard to focus when you are trying to do planning. I’ve heard it said that the people who get the most done spend the first half of their day planning and the second half executing the plan. However, when I’m sitting at my computer trying to do planning and research simultaneously, it is easy to get distracted–especially when I’m trying to research something on the web.
I’ve found a simple solution for this. By sitting down with a paper and pen away from a computer, I can better focus on my plan. In many cases, my plan will involve answering several questions that require using the internet. If I can stay focused on my planning and simply note the questions, I can increase my productivity. When I do go back to the computer, I have a list of questions that need to be answered, so my time on the web is much more focused on results.
With a list of questions that need answered, it is much easier to avoid going off on tangents that aren’t really related to the results I’m trying to achieve. Another advantage of sitting with pen and paper first, is that it uses a different part of the brain. In a recent study of the human mind, researchers discovered that the parts of the brain that were active when writing at a computer were significantly different than those that were active when working at a typewriter or writing by hand.
It isn’t that one part of the brain is better to use, but by using different parts of your brain you are more likely to come up with creative ideas and make connections that you’d miss if you used more limited areas of your brain.
Originally published on March 19, 2006.