It’s a pretty chilly morning here in Poland.
Our motivations are heavily informed by the media. Our social feeds are populated by endless images of wealth, travel, power, relaxation, beauty, pleasure, and Hollywood love. This virtual runoff perpetually seeps into our consciousness, polluting our sense of reality and self-worth every time we go online. We compare our lives to these largely artificial constructs and structure our plans accordingly, hoping to eventually afford a golden ticket to these misleading fantasies.
Distracted by the never-ending stream of aspirational media, we forfeit our opportunity to define what is meaningful on our own terms. - The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future eBook: Ryder Carroll
I’d like to announce that I’m not running for the Democratic party nominiation for President.
Back to work doing a job I love with great people and with an exciting product launch. I am so grateful and will remind myself of this when I get grumpy over a surprise project or one of the other “downsides” of my current job.
For most of 2018, I kept a “daily plan bar” in a softcover moleskin notebook. I really enjoyed the discipline of setting out what I planned to do that day and then seeing the reality take shape. It was also great to plan downtime and useful to realize what was feasible in a given day.
I still haphazardly keep a plan bar, but my new job involves mostly sitting at a desk and writing so the need to have reminders of being in this place at that time isn’t as compelling. So I, of course, keep it less.
As I was on a thinking walk last weekend I wondered if some of the aspects that made a daily plan bar so useful could be adapted for another use. Writing a note of what I planned to use a device for. Let me explain.
I frequently have lofty intention for how I’m going to use my smart device (usually my iPad but laptop and phone also apply). These intentions usually center around edifying consumption, mainly reading an ebook, or creating something, for example writing a blog post. Unfortunately, my actions don’t always match those intentions. Before I know it I may find myself crawling through email, getting a “quick” hit of social media or just swiping around pointlessly.
If only there was a way to help my actions match my intentions. Step up to the plate what I learned from Atomic Habits and the daily plan bar.
In Atomic Habits, James Clear describes a trick called “pointing and calling”. All you do is point at the thing you notice (the trigger for the habit) say out loud the action you are thinking of taking and the outcome. The reason for this process is to draw attention to the triggers and to help evaluate the outcome. It helps make clear the hidden thoughts you are having.
At first, I thought I should do this with my device. Simply state out loud what I am about to do on the device “I’m going to read” but then I realized that writing these actions down might be of greater value.
In the same way that the daily plan bar showed my intention and then actual course of action, writing down (on a index card/post-it note or in my notebook) would provide a visual reminder of what I wanted to do on this device and I could list how long I intended to do the action for. Once the activity is completed, I could mark what really occurred.
For example, “Plan: read for 30 minutes. Reality: Read for five minutes”
This also provides other benefits. If I find myself with five minutes of downtime and instinctively pick up my iPad, I have to think about what I want to do and then write down “plan: Do nothing really, swipe a bit, scroll, waste time.” Which provides an opportunity to change and stop that bad habit. I can also track my intentions with my device over time.
It’s all well and good thinking that this will happen, but actually carrying through is another thing altogether.
To help me, I’ve stuck a posit note onto my iPad screen. That means I have to remove it if I want to use the device. It’s almost as easy to add my note of intention as to ignore it.
So we’ll see how this little experiment goes.
I should “spark joy” some of my domain names. > “Thank you silly idea for the joy you brought me”
< turn off auto-renew>
Discussion starter: What is a change you’d like to see in society? Can be big or small. Preferably a positive statement (I.e. “I wish people shared/expressed this value” rather than “I wish there were fewer people of this political view”.)
I wish people were more patient.
A couple of days ago I shared my experiment, and thinking behind it, in not listening to podcasts while commuting. I thought I’d share a little update now.
The first day was delightful. I used my notebook and stuck with my goal of not using my phone till I got to work. The return journey was the same. The second day I forgot my field notes notebook and so used my phone to save an idea. Guess what, I found myself scrolling and using my device after I saved that idea 😞. still, I corrected and went back to reading. Day three was fine on the way to work, but I ended up listening to a podcast on the way home. In my head it wasn’t against my goal as I was listening while waiting for the train…but I continued listening on the train. So not a great success. Today is day four and the morning was better. More focused and I didn’t use my phone in the morning. To prevent using my phone on the way home and getting into a podcast bing, I decided to not use my phone once I left the office. That helped set a clear boundary which I stuck to. Tomorrow is the last day of the experiment. I think I’ll keep it going but perhaps with two evening commutes for podcasts still.