June 16, 2024

Archie Wertheim

Technology Integration and Foundations for Effective Leadership

Ugmonk Analog Starter Kit Review: Go Analog to Be Productive

3 min read
Ugmonk Analog Starter Kit Review: Go Analog to Be Productive


Many years ago, I asked my most accomplished, 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 stuff I need to do, then I do it.” He happened to use 3×5 index cards for his lists, so I copied the idea.

Over time, I took his simple system and worked it into my life, and decades on, I still start most days by pulling out an index card and working on whatever it says I need to do. At the end of the day, I glance at a longer list of projects (not on an index card) and a list of more strategic goals, along with my calendar, and decide what to put on the index card for tomorrow.

I talked about this system in our Best Paper Planners guide, and a WIRED reader emailed me to ask whether I had ever heard of 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 couple of months now, and I’m happy to say 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 sure makes it look a whole lot nicer.

Getting Things Done

Photograph: Scott Gilbertson

There’s a slogan on the Analog site that reads, “Analog doesn’t replace your digital tools, it works alongside them by helping you focus.” I think that’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 something out of Analog. And really, even I don’t. I keep track of appointments on a digital calendar.

Still, when planning my days and making lists of what I want to accomplish now, I have always been a fan of paper. The tactile, mechanical process of writing things down etches them in my brain in ways that nothing screen-based ever does. That’s where Analog comes in.

Analog consists of a cleverly designed, beautifully made wooden box (available in either 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 you need to do, and look good doing it.

There are three card colors: white cards for what you need to do today, cream-colored cards for items you won’t get to until later, and darker cards for those someday/maybe tasks you haven’t committed to doing but are interested in. The cards are 100-pound smooth, uncoated paper that’s sturdy enough to stand up in the provided slot so you can see your tasks for the day at a glance. The back of all the cards have a very faint dot grid pattern printed onto them, which makes them handy for jotting notes.



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