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10 Reasons Why Index Cards are (Still) Great

I’m going to date myself here. But my love affair with index cards goes way back. And I really do mean way back. Think “pulling out heavy wooden drawers” and “flipping through hundreds of manila cards” back. That’s because—back in the day—that’s how we looked for books in a library. We searched a (literal) card catalog to find specific books tucked away in the stacks.

Fast forward many years, and now we find books lightening fast with just a few keystrokes. But that certainly hasn’t diminished my love for the humble index card. If anything, it’s only increased its allure. It’s simple. It’s unassuming. It’s open-ended and inviting.

But that’s not all. There’s lots of specific reasons why index cards are still great. Here’s a rundown of just 10 of them:

  1. They’re not overwhelming.
    Their small size is their strength. Forget staring down a huge blank page. Grab a small index card instead. The smaller workspace is far less intimidating.
  2. They’re easily expandable.
    Any kind of system built using index cards can be scaled up or down incrementally. Add a card when needed or weed a few out when no longer relevant.
  3. They’re tactile and kinesthetic.
    Spread ’em. Mix ’em. Sort and stack ’em. Index cards invite you to interact with them in lots of different ways.
  4. They promote single-tasking.
    Index cards limit your focus to one task, one step, or one project per card.
  5. They’re portable.
    The little cards are small enough to tuck and take anywhere.
  6. They’re inexpensive and accessible.
    Index cards are relatively cheap and easily found online or in a variety of stores.
  7. They can be personalized.
    Keep them simple or go all out. Whatever you do, you can make index cards your own. Be as creative or as streamlined as you’d like!
  8. They require very little commitment.
    Index cards are cheap and small. So, there’s very little investment—monetarily and time-wise. In other words, if you screw one up—no big deal! Tear it up, recycle, and grab a new one. There’s no real risk involved.
  9. They foster mindfulness.
    Index cards can help calm and quiet mental clutter by helping to better direct attention to one point or task at a time. They create visual breathing room that can help facilitate intentionality.
  10. Index cards are relatively sturdy without being bulky.
    Thicker than paper, index cards offer more durability and less bleed through plain paper.
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