I Don’t Get the Appeal of a Hybrid System

So many peeps in our community are championing their partial return to paper as part of their system and it just baffles me.

Adding paper back into a fully fluid digital system only adds unnecessary complexity for me.

I love a well-crafted paper product like the incredible (I hear) Baron Fig notebooks just as much as any of us, but for me it only adds one more thing to keep track of that has none of the benefits of digital:

  1. It isn’t backed up anywhere
  2. My handwriting is terrible and I don’t want to look at it
  3. Writing is slow, cumbersome and hurts my hand
  4. No TextExpander!
  5. No spell check

Like many, I love the feel of a good pen, and sometimes I wish I wrote more but it just feels so slow and inferior.

All of the space and freedom people experience with a blank page I get from just opening Drafts. I just don’t see what paper adds, other than just a different feel, that digital doesn’t do much better.

How about you guys?


I can see the friction you mention. Why put it on paper if it takes more time and effort to manage it?

As a hybrid person, I can say that I do a lot of temporal work in the analog sphere. Brainstorming, meeting notes, general ideation, and a daily task list. But the full system is based in digital only after the externalizing of thoughts is done.

I think that’s an important distinction to make because it means I’m allowed to generate thoughts in analog and “edit” them when going into digital.


@bodiequirk It does appear that you list many items that are important to you and would not cause you to add a analog process. For me I would say that what David and Mike talked about on Focused related to the Hyperproductivity book is confirmed in my adding analog. Namely, that writing does slow me down and that fact alone adds benefit. The slowness causes me to think a bit more deeply about a project or if I’m breaking down an item to its smallest particles, per Mike Vardy. I tried various journals including Baron Fig but found the Focus Planner to be laid out for both daily, weekly, and long term planning. thats my two cents.

For me, it’s about remembering things; when I use a paper notebook, I have the freedom to scribble, brain storm and be messy. I just haven’t found that kind of “working freedom” with my digital tools (which I love). The combo of digital tools with paper is ideal for me.

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It’s not the same as a true analog system, but I’m a big fan of using PDF templates inside of GoodNotes. That way, I can physically write out my plan for the day on my iPad with my Apple Pencil which helps me focus, but everything is OCR’d and I can go back nd search through it later if I want.


@bodiequirk, I share your thoughts on the use of paper for managing tasks. The one thing I can think of that may be beneficial is that writing things down on paper can be effective in slowing you down. I guess the idea is that if you slow down, you will become more thoughtful, and you will not just dump stuff into a todo list. But I don’t believe that possible benefit offsets the negatives you listed. Perhaps there is a market for an app that will slow down typing on your electronic device of choice so you can reflect better :wink:.

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This is what I do. I dislike using paper, but find the cognitive reinforcement of writing important. Using my iPad Pro and my Apple Pen marries both of these functions.

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The 2nd-gen Apple Pencil feels even better IMHO. It’s slightly shorter and the flat side makes it easier for me to grip. Seems pretty minor, but makes a huge difference to me for some reason.

This is something I’ve been experimenting with myself recently. I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it, but I currently have a month on 2 pages planner for the “big picture”, and a Field Notes notebook which I’m using as sort of a bullet journal - not really though. What I do the night before is identify the MIT for the next day and if I can tell the day is going to be crazy I write them down in the notebook, then I can reference them throughout the day (I keep the notebook open in a stand on my desk) and get back on track. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure, but it’s helping me clear out my collection of notebooks (I could stock a whole shop!) and indulging my love of fountain pens too.

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Humm, still on the fence about this. Even starting on paper “does not compute” with me, since I am typing better and faster than handwriting and outlining on paper is a mess due to the lack of rearranging.
Joe’s point is uncharted territory for me. Fact is, my brain is working differently when brainstorming on paper. As an escape or when meeting with others, paper is the most obvious choice to sketch out things. With students, it also slows me down, giving them more time to process. Maybe I simply need to try out the seemingly unproductive approach to complement the digital main strategy? I’ll report back.

I’m right with you but I am torn between analog and digital tools. At the end of the day, I really don’t like how my writing looks on the page and that is likely the reason for digital tools in my world.

I also don’t like losing paper, journals or indexing the content so that I can recall the later.

These issues will keep me a digital man but I am VERY excited about digital inking solutions. I expect to move to a Surface device with their new pens for my main daily tool (instead of a phone).