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Which ‘throwback’ office techniques are still holding their own?

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Question: "Maybe I'm just getting old, but the more technology we use in our office, the less I want to keep up. I still use shorthand to take minutes, find names and addresses fast with my Rolodex, and far prefer the phone to email. Am I the only one who's hanging on to the old ways, or are people finding that not every 'advance' at work has made things easier?"  — Marcia, Human Resource Area Specialist

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

KR August 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Visitors to our office make comments about us having a typewriter. But there are quick tasks where the PC/Printer are less efficient.


Jon July 31, 2013 at 11:02 am

No online calculator is as easy to use as the one with real buttons I have on my desk!


Lynn July 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

Everyone has posted useful, insightful suggestions/comments. Personally I have found that if I slowly and periodically add one more ‘chore’ or task to Excel and Outlook at a time, I become pretty proficient. As far as an adding machine goes, it IS quicker and the tape is excellent for verification. The one thing I have kept up is my departmental phone book/listing….I update that as needed and can put my hands on a contact number for different departments faster than one can boot up the computer. However, I would NEVER give up my Microsoft Word, and the SpellCheck feature. I’d be lost without it!
As was said previously, just the right blend of new and old is what most people seem to find works best in our positions. :)


Melodie Turk July 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

I too still have a spiral notebook always handy, but I use Outlook, SharePoint, my smart phone and my tablet interchangeably. I’ve found that if I don’t keep up with new devices and applications, that I miss out on communication tools our younger generation uses. The younger employees coming to work in our department are savvy and quick. They use instant messaging and texting during meetings, on their way to work, and in between. Some of it I find challenging, but then again I find more time in my day to reflect and plan than I used to, because everyone’s correspondence is linked, synced, and posted in one place. I encourage others to find a balance of new and old.


Pam July 26, 2013 at 8:56 am

Paper lists can help me feel like I have accomplished a lot in a one day period, but I rely on Outlook to remind me of monthly, quarterly, and annual reports that I am required to complete. As long as you continue to work with these techniques, technology won’t become any faster for you. Take a course in Outlook, Excel, etc. and learn more shortcuts. Sure, it takes more time at first, but then you are never learning anything new. You may be surprised once you become accomplished at these new skills, you will wonder how you ever did without them!


Debbie July 26, 2013 at 8:41 am

I agree with these comments. I feel that some of us have used paper/old methods for so long that it is ingrained in us. I love technology and I definitely use it but to-do lists are far better on paper as was mentioned as a sense of accomplishment crossing things off. I think whatever works best for you paper or electronic or a nice combination of both, is perfectly acceptable. Speed, accuracy and sense of confidence all depend upon how comfortable you are with the systems you are using!


Necie July 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm

When it comes to proofing, I
also find it easier with hardcopy than on the screen. Also, it seems that it is more difficult than ever before to actually talk to a “live” person.


DeeCee July 25, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I still love paper. I love my paper lists. Not only do lists work well to ensure nothing gets overlooked, but there is profound satisfaction in crossing something off the list (especially with a thick, black marker), so you can see what you have accomplished. If you have a digital list and you delete an item that was completed, it’s as if it never was there, so there is no sense of having done or finished something.


Rebecca July 26, 2013 at 8:07 am

DeeCee: I totally agree with you on creating paper to do lists. If I use the notes on my iPad it feels just as you said — as if I have not accomplished anything. I keep a small spiral notepad on my desk and date it each day. I add to it as needed and when I look back I can see what tasks were on what day which helps me prioritize. I can also look back for specific notes that I added such as phone numbers, contact names, responses to notes, etc.


Theresa August 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Don’t delete — move it to a completed list. You need the information for year end reviews, when you go to do the item again, etc.

I use Outlook’s to-do list and classify tasks by code so I can find them quickly in the future.


Jeannette July 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I get grief about my adding machine. Sure, I can do an excel spreadsheet. But it’s so much easier and I get the tape if I need it! Not to mention, it’s quicker.


Michelle July 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Everyone has their own style. I wouldn’t think of it as “throwback” as much as those are techniques that work best for you. Many folks in my office don’t print things off anymore but sometimes, especially with proofing, I find nothing beats a hard copy in front of me to mark up. Stick with what works best for you, whether that be taking minutes by shorthand or using that trusty Rolodex!


JB July 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Rolodex rocks!


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