Why I threw away pen and paper in 2001 and went digital first!

By Anders Björklund

Why I threw away pen and paper in 2001 and went digital first!

When we started Zooma in April 2001 I decided to throw away pen and paper to digitalise and ‘onlinify’ my own behaviour! My advice to you is to start with yourself and your own habits when you are trying to facilitate change!

I realise that lots of our friends and relations still use an analogue approach when taking notes in meetings and in their everyday way of working. I challenge the rational for that, from lots of perspectives.

From the earliest days it was almost a sales slogan—the concept of the so-called paperless office and life. Now that vision is actually taking shape. A growing number of small businesses and start-ups are quietly focusing on a digital ecosystem, digitalised processes, formats and an onlinified offering and way of working. Less and less people use hand-writing, paper and pen. In a while I will publish a post about ‘Handwriting vs. Keyboard writing’ and the implications of that change. For now, however, I will focus on the rational of going all digital.

Why digital first?

The driving factors for ‘onlinification’ and digitalisation of your way of working can be convenience, simplicity, effectiveness, cost, collaboration, productivity or image and perception. In my case it was credibility.


As mentioned, one advantage to ditch paper and pen is increased convenience. Digital data is both highly searchable, and is also easily transferrable. What’s more, the mature state of cloud services today means that you can expect the information you store online to be available across whatever devices you may own - be it a smartphone, tablet, PC laptop, Mac computer, on a flight, without connection to internet—or even through a browser at an internet café or in a hotel lobby during your vacation.

Digitalisation also opens the door to greater levels of collaboration at work by making it easy to collaborate with co-workers on only the relevant data. On this front, an entire generation of online tools are available for a diverse range of tasks such as time tracking, project management and collaboration.

Digital first – How you should start

  • Stay close to ‘modern’ people—make sure that you surround yourself with ‘modern‘ people. Ask them a lot about their habits and how they solve ‘things‘. Observe what people do in stores, at airports and in the office.
  • Maximise the use of your devices—do a Google search for ‘Checklist for…‘ and ‘How to use a…’ to get inspiration and relevant suggestions of how to use your devices. Posts similar to ‘What I use my smartwatch for’ can be quite helpful.Zooma-smart-watch.jpg
  • Only use paper and pen when needed—drop paper and pen for all possible situations where it’s not really adding value. In the vast majority of cases you’ll soon find that pen and paper just waste time and energy compared to being all digital.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to going digital first. There are hundreds of tools that exist to facilitate the full range of potential activities and processes without ever having to involve a single printed sheet or a pen.

I started by dropping paper and pen to be credible when advising people and companies. I did it to be able to lead by example, and to facilitate change in my organisation. What habits will you change to facilitate change in yours?

Talk to an expert

Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
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