Sometimes “Old School” Can Be More Efficient

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There are a tremendous amount of “time-saving” options available to the entrepreneur. Sometimes, they are; Sometimes they are not; and sometimes, the old ways of doing things can be more efficient.

For example, the range of “note-taking” options is prolific. When I want cross-platform availability, I use OneNote, but there are numerous other programs and apps available.

However, ease of connectivity is only one factor to consider.

Other considerations include: transition time on the learning-curve, time spent on data entry, and, perhaps most important, the demand on mental capacity at the time of use.

Meetings these days seem dominated by a table full of tablets, notebooks and laptops. One often wonders if anyone is actually paying attention to the person speaking regardless of their stature or importance of topic. Distraction has become a way of life.

I have found that sometimes, good old paper and pencil are the best method for actually staying connected to my surroundings.

In meetings, where multi-tasking dominates, the imperatives are paying attention and participating, while still trying to capture important concepts. Under such conditions, it is often more efficient to simply jot notes on a pad of paper because minimal diversion of attention is required. I can always transcribe later.  This has the added benefit of allowing me to review and digest the notes and determine the truly important items.

Like beauty, ease of use and efficiency are often in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes we get enamored with technology and believe that it is the solution to all our problems. Often it is; however, we should not automatically dismiss time-worn methods.

Particularly, for older entrepreneurs of the baby-boomer generation who didn’t grow up “thumb-typing,” adopting technology for its own sake, rather than for how it creates efficiency for “you” may actually reduce your productivity. There is sometimes a fine line between being innovative and simply adopting technological change because you can.

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Many companies stayed with Windows XP and older-tested versions of MS Office because they provided a stable functional combination. It is likely, they would still be utilized more widely were it not for Microsoft’s withdrawal of support.

Learning curves can be steep and investments in upgrades expensive just at the time when those resources are sorely needed for other more critical aspects of early stage company growth. One should carefully evaluate whether the “new” features are worth the disruption and pull the trigger only when the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

The lesson here is not absolute, adopt or don’t, rather that efficiency is both relative and personal. Do what makes you most productive, but consider the possibility that “old school” may in fact be a viable option.

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Dave Clark

Dave Clark taught Strategy at West Point and is a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.