In fact, at one time they directed many of my daily activities.
Recently I had a day when I was lacking energy. Not physical energy as in, “I don’t want to work out energy” but energy in terms of an electrical power source. Strong winds blew into town and downed a local power line and suddenly my power (internet, phone, desktop, appliances) was completely gone.
It caused me to pause and remember… the days of napkin drawings. Throughout college I worked (my roommates would say lived) at a small group of community newspapers. Each day was a new adventure as I explored the little known secrets of my small towns and gained the valuable knowledge of how to run a newspaper and really, any small business.
My day began bright and early meeting informally with the circulation crew, getting feedback and correcting issues, and then I would move into the editorial sphere to do a little writing, visit with ad executives about their account activity and wonder at the magic happening behind the scenes in the graphics department. Some days I’d interview community members and civic leaders and other days I’d pull crime statistics and real estate reports. No two days were alike EXCEPT for the napkin drawings.
You see in my job I had the opportunity of meeting one-on-one over a meal with the newspapers’ owner and publisher on a daily basis. I reported my daily findings, but mostly I learned. I learned by napkin drawings.
We would sit and discuss budget projections and story lines and distribution issues and then suddenly, a napkin and pen would appear. The napkin became a whiteboard of sorts as business plans and strategies were outlined and key contacts named. The napkin became a roadmap for success, a place from which to seek direction and avenues yet to be explored. Each napkin was an essential resource to the growth of the company and the growth of me, as a young woman and entrepreneur. I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience I gained from those napkin drawings.
As I sat remembering and contemplating my downed internet, I noticed a napkin on the table in front of me, I realized that I have gotten away from using paper and pen to channel my thoughts. I’ve grown dependent on making notes and outlines electronically thinking it makes the items more accessible. But you know what? It doesn’t. Not like the napkins drawings, anyway. The messages shared in those paper napkins are indelibly printed in my mind. They were real, they were tangible and they meant something to me. I rarely access the notes on my laptop.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been participating in an amazing course on increasing business productivity. Before every week’s call we are told to PRINT out that week’s workbook. I will admit I initially scoffed at the idea, but I did it anyway. Guess what I found?
Just like napkin drawings, that printed material prompts me to MORE action than does filling out a pdf on my screen. It makes me accountable, it makes it real, and it ultimately generates more business for NeedSomeoneToBlog.com.
Is technology bad? NO. I love technology. I love the internet. I’m passionate about blogging and search engine visibility. But, every once in awhile, I’ve discovered it’s wise to disconnect and marvel at pen and paper and… the art of napkin drawing.
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