Read time: 3 min.

Have you ever sat down at the computer to work on a slide presentation or anything else that takes complex planning, then hours later find yourself feeling frustrated, like you were spinning your wheels?

Well, I've been there before, too often. Then, a few years ago, my aunt gave me some simple advice which has become one of my favorite PowerPoint presentation tips.

And it’s a super easy solution!

It's so easy, but this one tip will save you hours of wasted time and a lot of headache.
Ready for it?...Keep reading...

Here it is:


Always do your planning AWAY from the computer!

You're going to thank me for this advice!

Even if it is just a reminder to you. I thank me every time I give it to myself; for some reason I keep forgetting this one simple rule. We are so accustomed to working on the computer these days, it’s easy to forget about the good old pencil.

But the pencil (or your favorite writing utensil) is the number one best tool for planning work. This is because it is so linked to your brain it allows you to capture the flow of thoughts without derailing them, and without forcing you to use words.

Technology can get in your way.

No matter how adept you are at a software program, you are limited. There is too much of a "middle man" in your way, so it can stifle the creativity. Worse, it causes you to focus on the details too early in the planning.

If you don’t have a clear view of the big picture and the detailed tasks it includes, you can end up wandering around aimlessly in the program until you feel that wave of frustration that sends you to the breakroom for coffee and sprinkle donuts.

Now I am not talking about avoiding the computer for typing details or a short blog like this one. If you are good enough on the keyboard, it doesn't interrupt your creativity too much. But for more planning type tasks where you’re focusing on sorting out the big picture, brainstorming, and organizing things, the computer can trip you up and leave you feeling frustrated, wasting hours, and producing less quality work.

The mighty pencil can set you free.

But when you use a pencil and paper, you are set free to think big picture.

You can draw a mind map, write a list, scribble a note, create a chart, make a quick sketch, do all of the above, erase, and grab another piece of paper quickly before the thoughts fleet. And you can do it anywhere inspiration hits you, which is most often away from the computer. I've even been very productive while jogging in the park (I always have a small pad and pen with me).

I found a really cool tool for those of you who are shower geniuses. I thought I invented the idea (most of my best thoughts usually come in the shower), but my wife let me know someone else already did 🙁 It’s called AquaNotes, and it is now one of my favorite tools.

Plan more productively in less time!

So, to save a lot of time and lower your blood pressure, close out of PowerPoint, step away from the computer, turn on some nice music, relax and grab a pencil and paper.

Then you can more easily and effectively accomplish the initial planning work an effective presentation requires, like:

  • Sorting out the big picture and a clear objective
  • Brainstorming the necessary details and key points
  • Grouping ideas into categories that will make up your sections
  • Organizing the information in a logical order
  • Sketching a storyboard for the slides complete with ideas for pictures
  • Jotting down a reminder to pick up diapers on the way home

All this without thinking about the software, getting caught up on font colors, or getting lost in la-la land searching for the perfect picture for a slide you won’t end up needing after you later realize it’s a little off topic.

Once you have done your initial planning work away from the computer, your work back at the computer will be so much more productive and enjoyable!

And that’s when you will thank me.

You are very welcome!



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