Pen and Paper – There is no App For That

I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up. ~ Ben Franklin

by Pete Ferguson

Old Ben looked for paper validity to his life daily according to this quippy quote – do you?

I recently shared an article “Nine low-tech ways to manage your time more wisely” on our work social website – Yammer – and it was interesting to see the responses about apps that can take care of that.

What was missed is the bigger picture that creating your life plan isn’t about efficiency – it is about the pain and anguish of the analogue commitment of a better life to paper with a pencil or pen.

Outlook or other online calendars can tell you where you need to be, but with pen and paper you can tell your life where it needs to be.

It is intentionally inefficient. It is architecting your future in a very deliberate way. It is more than “buy groceries” – it is committing to where you will be in seven days, thirty days, a year from now. Then chunking activities around those areas to get you there and committing time on your calendar to ensure you arrive.


I have a process that works very well when applied. It takes about twenty minutes to set up each week and then a minute or two to review each morning. I write down last week’s lessons and then commit to what I will do in the following week. It is a culmination of Covey’s “First Things First” weekly planner, Anthony Robbin’s Massive Action Plan, Dan Miller’s balance of life and Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan.

If there is considerable interest, I’m happy to share it with you. I’d publish the templates but I don’t want to deal with copyright issues and it is fairly personal and evolves each year.

I’ll be honest, after about Wednesday morning, I’m on autopilot and don’t refer to it much, but it gets my week primed for what needs to be done if I am to be successful and accomplish “Big Picture” results in my life. Whenever I feel like I am floundering, I immediately reset with my Life Action Plan and it gets me back on track.

God had approximately 40 authors WRITE THINGS DOWN. Why? Because there is POWER in writing things down! ~ Joseph Sangl on the New Testament

My paper planner is a “to do” and a “to did” accounting of my life that both serves me in the week it is written as well as instructs me in future weeks when I look back. It is a process that is both enjoyable and painful to review.

What do you do to commit to the really important things in life? How do you ensure you are constantly stretching, evolving, growing, and learning?


2 thoughts on “Pen and Paper – There is no App For That

  1. I do a lot by pencial on paper, write budgets, P & L’s, goals, weekly work calander. I guess I do a lot erasing too. Good post, I review my goal sheet monthly and update it on monthly basis too. To stay on track I prioritizing what is most important to get done and I don’t worry about the rest. Having a written calander helps me do this. Time is the most important thing we have to work with. You can make more money but not more time.

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