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Get productive with paper and improve your performance at work

Get productive with paper and improve your performance at work.

After the excesses of Christmas and New Year, you should have settled back into the work routine by now. And after the festive break, it’s likely that you’ll have a stack of items on your to-do list that need to be done quickly. So how do you increase your productivity while making sure that everything still gets done with the right amount of care and attention. If you work in an office, the answer comes in the form of paper.

Digital overload

There’s little doubt that the average office now runs on digital technology. Everything from communication to presentations to getting orders for the coffee run is digital-based. But while it’s made many day-to-day processes more efficient, it can have a detrimental effect on productivity. Staring at screens for seven hours a day can lead to digital fatigue, which can make seemingly simple tasks a lot more difficult and take a lot longer.

A new survey has revealed that more than half of office professionals are suffering from digital overload, with 62% saying that digital tools are making their teams unfocused and inefficient in meetings. The survey, titled the Workplace Productivity Report, also found that over half feel that screen overload is making them less productive.

When asked about their use of paper in the workplace, 60% of the respondents said that they specifically use paper to make themselves more productive, while 96% prefer to work with paper copies of information as opposed to the digital version. The report concluded that workers need a strong balance of analogue and digital in the office for focus and productivity.

“There’s no question that digital tools have in many ways made the workplace more efficient,” explains productivity expert Holland Haiis. “But while digital tools have helped us to achieve more than we’ve ever imagined, we also realise it’s time for a little technological balance with the help of some non-technological tools.”

Get engaged with paper

The increase in productivity that comes from working with paper occurs for the same neurological reasons as why we gain more understanding from a print textbook. When reading from a screen, the mind tends to skim-read, picking out only selected words and phrases to get a quick surface-level understanding of the subject. But when reading in print, the mind becomes fully engaged, taking in every word and getting a deeper insight into the information.

“96% of office workers prefer to work with paper copies of information as opposed to the digital version”

This deep-thought process also extends to writing on paper, with the physical process concentrating the mind further, allowing it to become more engaged with the task, improving retention and providing solutions quicker. This is why 51% of office workers still jot their ideas down in a notebook and 63% prefer to use paper to collaborate with colleagues and spark creativity.

Five steps to get productive with paper

So how can you use paper to get more done in the office? Here are five of the best ways:

  1. Make a daily to-do list

When you start the day, don’t go straight to the email inbox. Seeing a mass of unopened messages is the first step to digital overload. Instead, write down the top three priorities you have for the day to focus your mind and become energised.

  1. Take a notebook to meetings

Meetings can be ruined by devices, everyone’s attention in different places and no one concentrating on the topic. So grab a flipchart and create a technology-free zone, with note-taking on paper rather than laptops. People will be more engaged, to-dos remembered and, importantly, meetings will be shorter.

  1. Use sticky notes for the big picture

With big projects, it’s impossible to gain an overview of every aspect on a screen. Constantly skipping between different pages and formats simply overloads the brain and no one can see the big picture. Instead, write down every aspect of the project on pieces of paper and pin them up on a large wall to gain a deeper understanding of the job.

  1. Use a traditional work diary

The good old paper work diary is vital for planning your time and keeping on top of your commitments. Simply the act of writing an entry will help retain that information and think about what you need for the appointment.

  1. Prepare for presentations on paper

While PowerPoint is expected at most presentations, writing your notes on paper will give you a deeper understanding of your speech and help you remember more of it. Your notes will also provide handy prompts during the speech itself and a good fallback should the technology fail.

  • For more information on the Workplace Productivity Report, go to