• Adam Tarnow

My Favorite Analog Tool

Updated: Feb 11

Analog is making a comeback. Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable shift back to analog tools and technology. Don't believe me? Then head over to your local Barnes & Noble. In one thirty-minute cruise around the store, here are a few things you'll see:

  • Tons of physical books.

  • A massive selection of board games.

  • A music section full of vinyl records.

  • An impressive selection of journals.

Oh yeah, you'll also notice that Barnes & Noble still exists! Amazon hasn't knocked them out yet. Keep fighting, B&N...keep fighting!!


Digital is amazing. Digital tools and technology have improved much of our lives. However, there are still some situations where analog is better.


Digital is here to stay, but analog ain't going away. It seems we all need a “digital detox” every once in a while.


My own leadership journey has been greatly impacted by analogy technology. There is one piece of analog technology that has helped more than almost any other.


The journal. I'll never forget the first time I slowed down to reflect and journal.


I was a junior in college. I was facing some situation that at the time felt like the most critical situation ever. I was confused, and I didn't know what to do.


For some reason, I decided to write out my thoughts. Ten minutes and two paragraphs later, I had the clarity I needed.


I've never looked back. Since that day over twenty years ago, journaling has been a normal part of my life.


My routine is simple. One, I use a journal that makes me feel smart. Two, I write with a pen that's a joy to use. Third, I relax and write whatever comes to mind.


My topics vary. Sometimes I write about a lesson I've learned. Other times I write about a problem I'm trying to solve. It’s a spot to write down dreams and frustrations. There’s freedom because the journal is here to serve me, and there are no rules.


I seldom go back and reread the journals. I often throw them away when I'm done. To me, it's more about the process than the library. Believe me, my kids will not want to write a book about my life when I pass away. "Our dad was a CPA. Then he did some other stuff. Finally, he died and left us all these journals to recycle. The end."


The benefit of journaling is reflection. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.


Yes. I just quoted Ferris Bueller.


Yes. That was my "senior quote" in my high school yearbook.


Yes. I had friends in high school.


No. They don't stay in touch with me.


Okay, maybe I can find a better quote. Here's what Donald Miller has to say about journaling and reflection:


"I've met very few high-impact people who do not journal or in some way take time to reflect. It's by reflecting that we edit our actions and design our lives. Those who do not reflect neither edit nor design - they simply respond." - Donald Miller, Business Made Simple


One more quote, from the late-great Howard Hendricks:


"Experience alone isn't helpful. Evaluated experience is what's helpful." - Dr. Howard Hendricks


I believe Donald and Howard are right. Adding this one analog tool can transform your leadership and give you an edge. So, put down your iPhone, head on over to Barnes & Noble, and "Treat Yo' Self" to an excellent new journal.



NOTES: A few articles to support the shift back to analog: books, vinyl records, board games. I have two go-to journals. (1) The Moleskine Cahier Journal, Large, with a cover from Daly Goods or (2) The Classic by Double Edge Notes. My go-to pen is the Pilot G-2 07 in Navy Blue.

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