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4 Work Throwbacks I Won't Throw Out

A few weeks ago, I glanced at my daily schedule. First up was a new client meeting. I was shocked to see that they set up a phone call. I had to double-check to be sure. Instead of spending time making sure I looked decent, the camera was the right angle, and dealing with the invariable technical glitches of videoconferencing, I simply (and pleasurably) picked up the phone and said hello. Very refreshing. I know quite well the wonders of tech, but there are a few old work things that still work—at least for me.

#1: Business cards

Yeah, I said it. I still get them printed (truth: these cards did pile up during the pandemic). They’re a quick snapshot of your brand that is tangible—what you offer, your uniqueness, and a great takeaway at events. You can't get that across nearly as well with an email or text. A digital “personal touch” is not the same as the real thing. Looking back at my card iterations over the years, I see how my business has evolved from branding as a business to an individual (and so has tech, as witnessed by the most Y2K biz card ever).

#2: Landline

Eighty percent of people aged 18-34 do not own a landline, and the numbers are creeping up for older millennials and baby boomers. Of course I use my cell phone plenty, but I love having a corded line as my alternate. I make phone calls on a perfectly business-sounding 415 area-coded office number (selected after many rounds with my provider). Also, if there were an earthquake, (not unheard of in San Francisco), the landline would still likely work, whereas my cell wouldn't. Plus, a landline doubles as a “find my phone” app when I misplace my cell around the house—not that it ever happens, of course.

#3: Wall calendar

Like everyone running a busy work life, I check my calendar on my computer and phone. But I still have an “analog” calendar pinned to the wall next to my desk. It’s both satisfying and necessary glancing over to see my personal and professional life in one visual view. If I get too plan-happy or forget something, taking a peek helps sort it out when setting up appointments. Bonus: I get to look at cute puppies, beautiful scenery, or lofty quotes, depending on the year.

#4: Hand-written to-do list

While science says that while typing a list might be more legible, writing it down ensures it's more memorable. Given my experience, that's 100% true. Every week, I break up my list into three areas: clients, business, and personal. I glance at them several times a day. I know the client stuff will get done, but the other tasks not completed have to roll over to the next week. So I have to write them down...again. This alone has the effect of taking action (most of the time anyway). Like the calendar, it's a visual reminder and gives me the warm fuzzies when I cross something off the list. Pressing delete on a keyboard doesn't give me the same satisfaction.

Like everyone else, I laughed in the "Ted Lasso" episode when Ted asks a hotel clerk where the fax machine is and the clerk responds with a perplexed look. Truth is, I embrace new technology when it cuts down on time or effort. But call it stubbornness, nostalgia, or the comfort of the familiar, I'll also stick with my favorite tried-and-true throwbacks any day.

What business holdovers do you still have from the '90s, '00s, or even the last five years?

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Gerhard Zimmermann
Gerhard Zimmermann
Oct 01, 2021

I still have a Rolodex: An easy way to organize biz cards, and it looks pretty stylish!

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