It’s a constant question and debate amongst creative entrepreneurs — are you an analog or digital person? Do you protectively hold on to your paper planner, or have you completely crossed over to the digital world?
Y’all know I’m all about my systems here and I’ve got an arsenal of tools at my disposal to keep this business running in tip top shape.
If pushed, I’m an analog girl over digital pretty much any day of the week, but when you’re running a business, sometimes digital just makes things way easier.
If you’re all analog or all digital, you do you, girlfriend! But if you’re like me, and you need that tactile paper but love the convenience of digital, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to combine those analog and digital systems in a way that maximizes your efficiency and productivity instead of detracting from it?
HOW TO EFFECTIVELY COMBINE ANALOG & DIGITAL SYSTEMS
When it comes to analog and digital systems, there are pros and cons to both.
The pros to digital include things like automation, workflows, and unlimited storage. The pros to analog include things like increased memory, reduced dependence on technology, and consistent offline accessibility.
Neither system is perfect when it comes to running your business, which is why learning to combine them in an effective manner is so helpful.
ANALYZE YOUR CURRENT SYSTEMS
Before you can begin combining your systems, you need to do an analysis or audit of the ones you have in place and how they’re all working together.
Whether it’s for task management, client management, or something else, having a good grasp on what systems you have in place, where they’re working, and where they aren’t working will help immensely as you think through the most effective way to combine analog and digital.
Write out a list of all the systems you have in place, the tools you use for those systems, and a few notes about where you feel like they’re most or least effective.
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM SPOTS
Once you’ve done an initial analysis, look for the problem spots.
Where do you constantly feel like you’re dropping the ball? Where do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? What tasks fall off your radar? Is there a certain step in your workflow you’re constantly forgetting? Do you feel like you’re wasting time writing out the same things over and over again?
After you’ve identified your problem spots, ask yourself this question — is this a problem because it’s associated with an analog system or a digital one?
For example, if you’ve got an analog system and place that’s causing you to spend hours spinning your wheels, doing things that could easily be automated, then shifting that process to a completely or mostly digital system would be extremely helpful.
On the other hand, if you feel like there’s something you’re constantly dropping the ball on because it falls off your radar or you keep forgetting about certain tasks or meetings, implementing an analog system could help because writing things down will help you remember them better.
Once you have a better awareness for the problem spots caused by analog systems and the ones caused by digital systems, you can start looking at how a combination of the two can fill in those gaps and solve your issues by asking yourself one question — what’s the goal?
Is the goal to simplify and streamline communication between you and your clients or team? Is it to automate a lot of the busy work that takes up hours in your business and leaves you feeling burnt out but doesn’t move you forward? Is it to allow you freedom to feel “in the know” with certain aspects of your business without feeling chained to your computer?
As a general rule, digital systems are going to be better for things like client management and communication, workflows and anything you can automate, and tasks or projects that happen on a recurring basis.
You’re able to set things up once and do minimal to no maintenance from there on out, which can save you hours in handling tasks that keep your business running but don’t move it forward.
They’re also especially helpful if you work with an assistant or any kind of team because they keep everyone in the loop and with access to all the things they need to complete their tasks.
On the flip side, analog systems are generally best for brainstorming ideas, ensuring you remember the most important stuff, and giving you peace of mind and freedom to spend a bit more of your time “unplugged.”
When it comes to systems as a whole for online businesses, I’ve found the best way to combine digital and analog is this one principle — think of analog as supplemental.
I love my paper planner and my stickers and analog systems so very much and I will cling to them until the day I die. But there’s no way on earth I’d be able to do nearly as much as I do in my business if digital systems didn’t make up the majority of the things I do.
Digital systems help me automate my client onboarding and management process; organize and handle communication with clients and other creatives; manage daily, weekly, and monthly workflows and recurring tasks; and so much more.
Using them saves me so much time and energy in running and managing my business that allows me to be focused, productive, and efficient while I’m in office so I’m able to spend the rest of my time enjoying life!
There are three main advantages to analog systems — they help you remember things better, they let you keep working when technology doesn’t, and they help you fight technology addiction — which is why I incorporate them as a supplemental part of my business, because the benefits they provide outweigh the inconvenience of efficiency and duplicated work.
The key there is that these systems are supplemental. They’re in addition to the main digital systems in my business and help me prioritize and stay on track. They fill those holes created by digital systems so, no matter what’s going on, my business is able to remain in tip top shape.