I am a big advocate of strategic planning — and daydreaming, and brainstorming — on paper.
I am reminded of the advice for insomniacs that, if you want to get to sleep more easily, don’t work or read in bed. Train yourself that beds are only for sleeping.
If you use your computers and devices for work (and squirreling away time on social media), it’s hard to convince yourself to sit in front of the same technology but ignore all the normal cues and instead see the BIG PICTURE RIGHT NOW.
I like a good sketchpad and a purple marker. I’m fine with someone thinking I have the aesthetic preferences of a twelve-year-old girl. I don’t have a problem with twelve-year-old girls.
A recent thread on Reddit asked, “What girly thing do you really want to do or try but it is socially unacceptable?” (See, patriarchy hurts us all!)
The number one answer was girly cocktails. Wearing yoga pants also came up a lot. But one poster answered that he’d like to be able to write in multiple colors of pen. (Several gay men posted that they do all these things regularly.) I like writing in multiple colors of pen. It helps me think.
I wrote in Bullish: Pre-Internet Productivity Tips for the Young and Sprightly that:
“The main problem with so many productivity applications is the most obvious one, the one so obvious no one really notices or talks about it: on a computer screen, you can only see one screen full of stuff at a time. Your brain can really handle more of a visual field than that — close to 180 degrees, in fact — but one thing your brain does not like is the one-second switch between apps (“task switching” is disorienting — the one second on your computer causes a greater-than-one-second lag time in your brain).
So one day last May I was browsing my Twitter feed when whimsical male Bullish reader @Truett posted:
I thought this was a great idea. I have no special artistic talents, but I believe in breaking out of screens and lined paper and lists and sometimes just thinking spatially and visually. When teaching math, I teach really specifically what to write or draw on your paper for specific types of problems. So if it works for one of those situations where two trains are barreling towards each other at different speeds (I know you all love those!), maybe it would work for a life problem.
It took me many months to follow through, but I finally decided to DRAW MY PROBLEM.