I’ve been reading about all sorts of digitaltools we’re meant to change the way we think, plan, and work for years. But none of them have actually come close to making me more productive.
While many of my peers swear by productivity-focused apps, I like to keep my iPhone and work life separate for a hint of work-life balance. So even though I wholeheartedly embrace the digital times we live in, I find myself increasingly resorting to more, ahem, analogue methods.
Having spent some time wondering how I could improve my organizational skills, the solution appeared when I was trawling through Amazon one cold, grey January morning and I came across a whiteboard. Yes, that’s right. A whiteboard.
Let me tell you how this glossy, white surface — which became popular in offices and schools in the mid-1990s — has helped me improve how I work in the present day and how it can help you too.
Why it works for me
I decided to be strategic and place my whiteboard behind my iMac in my home office. This way I can easily switch between my computer screen and whiteboard throughout the day.
By keeping the whiteboard directly in my eye line I make sure that all my outstanding tasks are, and stay, at the forefront of my mind. The whiteboard is the first thing I see every morning when I sit at my desk, and it’s also the last thing I look at, and update, before I log off in the evening.
In the past, I’ve used lists to write down long-term goals for ongoing projects. But the thing with lists is that you can easily misplace them and they’re not dynamic, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed by just looking at them. For me, the best thing about having a whiteboard is being able to prioritize tasks that I want to complete within a small time frame, whether that’s every day, or week.
I also like the intimacy it provides. It’s always there, and I don’t need to distract myself by picking up a phone to open an app or waste time navigating between screens.
There’s less friction. The whiteboard makes me feel at ease and organized — and let’s be honest there’s something incredibly satisfying about crossing, or deleting, tasks with a dramatic flourish as you complete them.
Having a visual aid with set tasks and deadlines also works well for me and it means I’ve saved my desk from the mountains of paper to-do lists floating about everywhere. So, my workspace is tidy at all times.
As a journalist, the whiteboard also comes in handy when I’m researching possible stories and structuring pitches for my editor.