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Unleash Your Inner Productivity Guru With Ugmonk’s Analog Starter Kit

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Small wooden box with an opening at the top that allows index cards to be stored flat, and a slot to hold an index card upright. The...

Many years ago, I asked my most talented, successful friend what his secret to success was. His answer was simple, but it also changed my life. He said, “I make a list of all the things I need to do, and then I do it.” He happened to use 3×5 index cards for his lists, so I copied the idea.

Over time, I adopted his simple system and incorporated it into my life, and decades later I still start most days by pulling out an index card and working on what it tells me to do. At the end of the day, I look at a longer list of projects (not on a system map) and a list of more strategic goals, along with my agenda, and decide what to put on the system map for tomorrow.

I talked about this system in our Best Paper Planners guide, and a WIRED reader emailed me asking if I’d ever heard of it Analog, an index card-based system similar to mine (but better looking). I contacted Jeff Sheldon, founder of Ugmonk, the company that makes Analog, and he sent over an Analog Starter Kit. I’ve been using Analog for a few months now and I’m happy to say that it’s an excellent way to organize your day and get things done. It’s simple, elegant, beautifully made and, well, analog. I wouldn’t say it replaced my decades-old system, but it does look a lot nicer.

Getting things done

Photo: Scott Gilbertson

There’s a tagline on the Analog site that reads: “Analog doesn’t replace your digital tools, it works alongside them by helping you focus.” I think it’s important to keep in mind. While I use and have almost always used a paper-based system, you don’t have to go completely paper-based to get anything out of Analog. And really, not even me. I keep track of appointments in a digital agenda.

Yet I have always been a fan of paper when planning my days and making lists of what I want to achieve next. The tactile, mechanical process of writing things down etch them into my brain in a way that nothing on a screen ever does. That’s where analog comes into the picture.

Analog consists of a cleverly designed, beautifully made wooden box (available in walnut or maple), custom printed cards and a metal divider/lid that keeps everything tidy. It’s designed to sit on your desk, show you what to do and look good doing it.

There are three card colors: white cards for what you need to do today, cream cards for items you won’t get to until later, and darker cards for those someday/maybe tasks you haven’t committed to yet but that interest you. in. The cards are smooth, uncoated 100lb paper that is sturdy enough to stand in the designated slot, so you can see your tasks for the day at a glance. All the cards have a very faint dot grid pattern printed on the back, which makes them useful for taking notes.

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