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Achieve Faster Flow States: Swap your iPad for a Notepad

Achieve Faster Flow States: Swap your iPad for a Notepad


    Modern technology really is a wonderful thing. It gives us all manner of affordable gizmos and gadgets to help us manage every element of our lives and get more stuff done.

    Yet when it comes to getting more stuff done effectively and to the best standard possible, there’s one set of tools we often over-look; the humble pen and paper.

    In praise of paper

    It goes without saying that paper is much cheaper, doesn’t suffer too much damage should you drop it on the concrete and doesn’t require batteries or chargers, but they present less obvious advantages too:

    Sure, technology provides us with lots of useful, productive tools, but it also provides e-mail, social networks, oh-so-hilarious videos of piano-playing felines and a host of other distractions that otherwise keep us from creating our best work.

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    The only thing a notepad ever gave us was a blank canvas on which to store thoughts, make notes and create masterpieces.

    Distraction free

    This very article began life as a basic idea scrawled in a pocket-sized notebook en route home from dinner one evening before being expanded, tweaked and crafted into two rough drafts on a legal pad back at the dining table.

    Eventually, when all thoughts were nearly organised and I had an article I was happy with, I typed it up and here it sits before you.

    Saving time

    Was that more work than heading straight to the computer and hacking at the keyboard until I had something close to a competent piece?

    Yes and no.

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    Okay, so my drafts took me longer to write than if I’d typed them, fully-formed and almost perfect into a word processor, but the honest truth is that had I been at the computer during first-draft, I would have spent just as much time browsing through blogs, tweeting and generally wasting time on unproductive things as I would actual writing.

    In the long run then, I saved myself some time and found it easier to enter a state where I was completely focussed on producing the best possible work I could.

    “Sometimes I would rather hang upside down in a bucket than write.” – Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    No matter how much we try to tell ourselves that we’re 100% motivated and productive 100% of the time, we all have those days when, just like Douglas Adams, the last thing in the whole world that we feel like doing is the task at hand.

    No matter how disciplined we may think ourselves, technology offers such an abundance of distractions that it’s sometimes too much to resist temptation and indulge in those distractions.

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    Even when we’re motivated enough to get on with the job, sometimes the very process of working at a computer, nothing more than hitting a buttons and inputting data, can thwart the creative process.

    Because of this, ideas don’t come as freely, and that completely productive state of working takes a little while longer to reach.

    Before we go any further, it’s probably worth pointing out that what you’re reading isn’t the inane ramblings of an out-of-touch old man with a gripe against ‘all this newfangled cyberspace stuff’ just because he doesn’t understand it.

    I adore technology. I adore it because it’s portable, convinient, accessible. I adore it because it lets me work from anywhere in the world, and I adore it for all the many wonderful things I can’t do without it.

    Though the one thing I can’t do with technology, is think, brainstorm and create half as well as I can when faced with a blank sheet of paper.

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    Flow states

    There’s something about that blank canvas, devoid of distractions and ready to be filled with ideas, that enables a faster entry into what psychologists call the Flow state; that feeling of being fully absorbed in your work, completely energized and so focused on the task at hand that nothing can take you from what you’re doing until you’ve achieved what you set out to do.

    You may not call it Flow, you may call it ‘being in the zone’ or use some other term entirely, but the point is that you’re likely to reach that most productive and satisfying state much faster as you feed off the energy created by dragging your pen across a blank sheet of paper than you are simply inputting data into a machine.

    You don’t even have to be doing anything particularly creative either.

    Having experimented with both technology and paper-based products for all areas of my life, including creating to-do lists, planning projects, personal finance work and just about anything that requires me to get stuff out of my head and onto some form of page, I’ve found that the ideas I have come quicker, and are more inspired and defined than I ever had bashing buttons on a keyboard.

    Of course, it would be quite absurd to encourage you to replace your Ipad with a notepad forever more; we wouldn’t be talking right now were it not for technology. Though if you want to create your best work in an environment free from distractions that allows you to quickly and effortlessly reach your Flow state, laying the laptop aside and picking up a sheet of paper may just be what you need.

    (Photo credit: Notebooks via Shutterstock)

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    Chris Skoyles

    Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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    Last Updated on October 12, 2020

    10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020

    10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020

    The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.

    Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.

    Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.

    In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.

    Before You Download

    As you are no doubt aware, there are all kinds of calendar apps available. Instead of you sifting through the hundreds of them, we’ve handpicked 10 of the best calendar apps you can get. On top of glowing reviews from each one, we’ve considered the following aspects when creating this list:

    • User Interface – How you navigate the app should be smooth and simple. The buttons on the app should be clear, obvious and easy to move through.
    • Synchronization – Whether it’s with other calendar apps or with other apps, syncing apps should be easy and enhance your overall experience with the app.
    • Additional features – Since there are so many options for calendars, many of these apps offer additional features. These features make the apps stand out from the other apps and provide unique experiences to you.

    1. Any.do Calendar

      This calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.

      Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.

      What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.

      Any.do Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.

      Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.

      Download Any.do Calendar here!

      2. Google Calendar

        Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.

        Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.

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        Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.

        The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?

        Download Google Calendar here.

        3. Calendar

          Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.

          A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.

          Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.

          Download Calendar: Meeting & Scheduling here.

          4. Business Calendar

            Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.

            The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).

            You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.

            The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.

            Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.

            Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.

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            Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.

            A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.

            Download Business Calendar here.

            5. aCalendar

              aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.

              Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.

              Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.

              When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.

              Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.

              The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.

              The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.

              Download aCalendar here.

              6. DigiCal Calendar

                DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.

                With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.

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                Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.

                The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.

                Download DigiCal Calendar here.

                7. SolCalendar

                  SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.

                  The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.

                  Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.

                  Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.

                  Download SolCalendar here.

                  8. IRL Event Social Network

                    One of the most unique apps on this list is the IRL Event Social Network app. As you can guess from the name, the core focus of this app is social networking. Unlike other social media platforms, you can consider this platform to function similar to Meetup.com. It’s a site where you can connect with other people within your area that share a similar interest.

                    IRL is that while also providing a convenient calendar for you to schedule events and plan out your day. Though due to it being a secondary focus, you’re lacking a lot of the syncing aspects that other apps have on this list. Regardless, because of this huge social feature, it’s worth considering for those who want to make more connections.

                    Download IRL Event Social Network here.

                    9. Today Calendar

                      Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.

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                      The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.

                      If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.

                      Download Today Calendar here.

                      10. Timepage

                        Timepage is an intuitive calendar app that will manage your time in a way that other calendar apps can’t. It offers the same sort of functions that you’d expect from other calendar apps: opportunities to record events, notifications and reminders, weather, and driving duration to a particular event. However, the app goes beyond those functionalities in two ways.

                        The first way is that while the app sends you notifications, it also has reminders for you for what is coming up next. That bit of extra time can allow you to prepare and make adjustments to your day if need be.

                        The second function – which is more important – is the heat map when you go to see the full view of your calendar. This heat map indicates what days you are most busy and other days where you are freer. This heat map provides a quick glance to determine broadly what days are good to add more events and other tasks.

                        Download Timepage here.

                        Our Verdict

                        Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.

                        Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.

                        Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.

                        The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!

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                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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