I’ve been working in a virtual environment for a couple of years now, even before I began working from a traveling trailer. I logged into an online client database instead of flipping through a Rolodex or company network. I stored projects and files in “the cloud” instead of in metal filing cabinets. For the last two years, even my office phone has been run on a voice-over-IP network instead of a traditional land line. I’m a digital girl living in a digital world, but there are some aspects of the old school ways that I miss.
Like office supplies.
Now that my “office” is a backpack, I’m not surrounded by paperclips, staplers, and countless memo pads. While the reduced clutter is an improvement and I don’t miss the perpetual “clean desk” on my to-do list, I do miss the tactile convenience of being able to reach out and grab what I need in an instant.
In a paper world, you use a pen and scrap of paper to jot down your ideas and phone numbers. In a digital world, you open an app or find the Excel sheet that’s stored in a folder somewhere on your computer. In the real world, you have the satisfaction of physically crossing off your daily accomplishments from a list, a process that is much more fulfilling then clicking “completed” in a web browser.
And heaven forbid you lose something in a digital world.
There’s no shuffling through piles or scanning the desktop. There’s no digging through trash cans or asking everyone to drop what they’re doing and help. While the absence of these frantic searches might sound like a good thing, the problem is that things can still get misplaced on the hard drive and in the cloud - and then what? Then you’re left with a text based file search and trying to remember what in the heck you were thinking when you saved that file that didn’t exactly make sense in any folder.
All in all, working and storing my work (and personal life, really) digitally is far more efficient than my old paper ways. But man, I sure do miss those little post-it notes stuck all over the place.
Do you prefer digital or paper systems?
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