The Power of Merging Digital and Analog Personal Organization

I have been an advocate of combined analog and digital organization since the early 2000’s, when I took a job, where my predecessor was fully entrenched in endless stacks of paper and very scatter-brained. Subsequently, I developed an evolving system over the last 18 years that has served well. I find myself teaching this system to almost every new employee. 


Capture–  Capture all information that is pertinent to what you are trying to do: memos, notes, emails, documents, phone conversation, into one large funnel that is digitally searchable. For me, I have been an early adopter of Evernote  (software) since 2011. This software allows you to rarely lose something.  


Disseminate– All communication requires the three D’s:  Delete, delegate, defer. 

  • Delete means that there is no action required.
  • Delegate it means someone else is going to be held accountable for it and take care of it.
  • Defer means it gets scheduled and the first action steps are processed.  


Act– The Inbox is not a catch-all. The Voicemail box is not a catch all. As communication or notes move through the system, it is important how you prioritize how you are going to act on the information. For me, most things get calendared or moved to one of two lists: to think about, to do. Again, most things get calendared, thus the word action.  


Collect– Much like capture, at the end of the day, any paper notes, receipts, documents or correspondence are scanned or photographed into digital storage. If you are using a digital system, make sure it is searchable, both by date and by topic.  


Why is all of this important? I currently operate in a fast-paced business where time and communication is of the essence. If I am following this simple process, it allows me to not lose information and to act on information in a much more timely manner. It also helps to manage efficiency and eliminates mind clutter.  


As technology continues to improve, I-pads and apple pencils, these tools just enhance the system.  The objective is to live as paper free and organized as possible.  This is where analog meets digital in the personal organizational space.  


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About Stephen Johnson


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Stephen Johnson is the Vice President of the Automation & Control Solutions group at McKenney’s. This premier team—made up of control engineers and service and project management professionals—designs and implements customized automation solutions for both new and existing buildings.

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