Project Management Tip from JK Rowling

Ever wonder what tools authors use for managing a project as immense as writing a book? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could use their tools for managing our more complex projects?

You might suspect, as I would have, that someone like super-author J.K. Rowling uses pretty sophisticated planning software, maybe even a product that is specially designed for authors, and maybe even a product designed especially for her. But we would be wrong: she uses notebook paper, and lays everything out in a spreadsheet-like format.

If we stop and think about it, though, this is not terribly surprising. For example, this Wall Street Journal article discusses how handwriting boosts the brain, noting that:

… researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development

And, in my article on would you know if you have ADD, I note that using a paper planner helped reduce my ADHD-like symptoms. (Also, I am much less ADD-like in using my Kindle than when using my iPad or computer for reading, because it is designed for reading and doesn’t have a lot of other distracting features. Paper doesn’t have bells and whistles, either, and that helps you focus on the task at hand.)

Whenever I need to plan something really complex, out comes the paper. That’s despite the fact that I have about every planning tool one could have on my computer. Paper helps me think in ways that software doesn’t.

But, that’s me. It may describe lots of people, but I would not try to sell you on doing things my way. Do what works for you: just remember that paper could be one thing that does work for you, and don’t be held back from using it because you’re afraid someone will see you and think you are not tech-savvy. What do you care what other people think?

(Of course, there are projects for which software is the best way to go, no matter how much you like paper: if your project is one that takes a lot of collaborative effort, for example, you need a planning medium that works in that environment.)