NOTE: I’ve gotten a bit of push back for the use of the word “you” in this post. Some have pointed out the presumptuous nature of the word. I think they are right. While I concede that, I do want to maintain that “going digital” has screwed many of us up. I’ll try to be a little more careful next time.
Second NOTE: Upon further reflection, the presence of the word “you,” the most common objection, was used as a literary device and, I think, fully appropriate. While it is always beneficial to be aware of one’s communication tendencies, I will also choose to assume a high level of self-awareness on the part of readers and will hold them responsible for their own interaction with whatever text they are reading.
I’d like to introduce you to my new Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It’s really a pretty beautiful thingy, this notebook, and it represents my return to organizing my thoughts, tasks, and schedule using pen and paper. I got the “radial datebook” and little modification inspirations from Patrick at Scription.
I tried for a long time to be a digital boy. I am obviously a fan of technology, but I have found that I do better when I’m writing things down by hand. About two months ago, I tried out another digital system. I bought a tablet that had a stylus you could write with, but… Oh, the balls I dropped. I needed to go back.
Here’s the thing: There is real and there is not real. Pen and paper are real. Digital is not.
Digital is bits and bites. It’s an idea. It’s an abstraction. when something is created digitally, it doesn’t actually exist. I think this was the essence of my problem. When I tried to work solely with a digital workflow, I think my subconscious knew that what I was manipulating wasn’t actually real. And this is saying something, coming from an abstract guy like me.
But the pen and paper… Those are real things. Sure, they may be symbols of other things, but they are real. My to do list can never be deleted. It can only be completed. I can’t erase something, only cross it out.
This is a spiritual thing for me, dealing with the real. My life – your life – is too full already to deal with things that aren’t real. What’s the point?
I know, I know. Some of you will claim that you do “just fine” organizing your life digitally and that I should stop acting like an old fogey and go back to being the “open source guy” who celebrated technological innovation. The thing is, open source is about making sure things work.
Friends, there’s a whole lot of us doing things that aren’t working.
I don’t believe you when you tell me that you can organize your life digitally. I know you, and I read about your stress all the time on Twitter and Facebook. I see how much stuff you try to cram into your day. A lot of you are cranky because of it. I know I am when I try to live by the digital code. It sucks.
So here’s what I want you to do: On Monday, instead of firing up your OmniMuiltiThingFocus program to start the race to see how many boxes you can click, just ask yourself “What are three things I need to do today?” Write them down on a piece of paper or a note card and do them. One at a time.
Cause, really, most of you reading this are pastors, and the people you serve deserve to have a servant who models daily Sabbath and simplicity. We all know you’re good enough and capable enough, but we’re tired of you modeling unhealthy behavior.
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.