As I mentioned last week, I have spent the last few years in notebooks and with a large variety of journals. I've experienced the value of putting pen to paper and grasped the power of a hand written note. I don't dislike analog living, but after dealing with some intense anxiety, I decided that I should try something different.
Let me explain my previous method of organization. I had a bullet journal with a calendar ranging from June to May, because as a mom and teacher my schedule has always worked better that way. I would put my appointments in the monthly spreads and my task lists on weekly spreads. I used a habit tracker and beautiful stickers. The whole thing was in written in beautiful fonts AND I made the whole calendar system in French. I've received LOTS of compliments on how beautiful it was. I had stickers too. Fun planner stickers that I could use for notating everything from laundry to getting coffee with a friend. It was absolutely adorable. Who would give up an adorable French bullet journal? Here's the issue. Remember when I said I wasn't organized? Well, I would go somewhere and forget to bring my journal. If I did remember, it was cumbersome and then I started carrying around my Sharpie pens (wonderful, by the way) AND the adorable stickers just in case a situation came up. I would keep all the stuff out on my counter because if I didn't I would never use it. I spent more time "jamming on my planner" than actually working on the stuff I was supposed to be doing. .
The first time I actually put aside the planner and made a task list on my phone. I realized that I have been making this way too complicated. But I was doing all that so I wouldn't become distracted by the digital. Apparently I have to ability to become distracted by the analog. Pens, paper, stickers, journals - these are what intoxicate and distract me. They are just so fun in and of themselves. (You're just now realizing what a big nerd I am?)
I've read quite a bit about the dangers of digital distraction. Reading things with hypertext slows down our reading by milliseconds. Our phone's chimes and rings hold a powerful sway over our attention. I don't want to get so caught up in my phone that I ignore what is going on around me. I want to be a good example of digital well-being to my son. All of this made me nervous about relying too heavily on the digital world. I thought I would be too distracted, but woah. That isn't what happened at all.
I will refrain from explaining the details of each app and specific change for now, but the overall impact has been more interesting than anything to me. I put away all my journals and stickers and pens and all the other stuff I had been using. I simplified. Everything is connected to Google. Because Google is available online, I can used it in whatever, I'm logged into. Doctors appointments? No problem. I can search for the phone number and make an appointment right here. No need to go find my calendar. My task list is linked to my calendar so I can see which days I'll be able to get things done and keep track of them from wherever I am. (Yes, I am careful to log out and practice on-line safety.)
My anxiety has dropped significantly since starting this experiment. I honestly didn't expect that. I'm not carrying around so much stuff because I only need my phone. I'm not misplacing my phone (usually) because I always have it on hand. Rather than leaving me addicted to my device, I've been on it less. Before, I used it to call and text and for social media. Now it's a work tool. It's something that allows me to focus on things so I can put it down and enjoy a clean counter and time doing things I love. When I go to look at my social apps I am given my daily task list so I put down to phone to get to work. Then when I'm done with the work, I find myself enjoying a board game with Logan or watching a show with Jason, which are things I thought I didn't have time for.
This might change. My brain may get used to the switch and flip back over to craving social media updates and focusing on the minutia rather than on the important, but for now I will revel in the ability to get things done and make stuff happen!
Around New Year's I posted about my resolutions and said that I was embracing some apps to help me meet my goals. Well, I embraced them and then some. I've decided to live this year digitally. For several years now I've had a bullet journal and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've loved hand lettering the dates and months. I like seeing the tasks and events spread out before me. BUT, and here's rub, I sometimes forget to carry it with me. I sometimes get so distracted with making it pretty that I fail to accomplish the tasks on my lists. The collections were spread out across months and sometimes got lost despite my endlessly improving it with washi tape and stickers. I will always love my bullet journal, but I am choosing to set it aside for now and try something new.
This doesn't mean I am giving up intentional living. Intentional living is laid out in Ephesians 5:8-10 "Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." It is making deliberate choices rather than being swept along with a crowd and doing what it takes to survive a day. It requires a great deal of self-knowledge and knowledge about the One you are lining up your life to follow. No, I'm still planning to live very intentionally and seek God's direction in everything I do.
I've decided to live a year using digital apps to assist me with everything I do. Some of this decision was prompted by my recently receiving a Microsoft Surface Pro and trying to make the most of it. I can now work from anywhere! My posting has been limited because back in November I accepted a long-term subbing position that has absorbed much of my time at mental energy. Since then I've been trying to eke out time to do the things I need to do while also finding time for the things I want to do. After re-evaluating my time and how I spend it I've decided that the digital life is worth a try.
There is one slight issue with this though. I am not super tech-savvy. Computers and are often not my friend. Passwords get lost and weird things happen. I can not tell you how many times I have had some issue with a computer only to have the IT or tech support say something like, "Oh wow! This is weird! I haven't seen this before." So I'm not tech savvy, but my husband is. We have Alexa who can turn on lights and assist us around the house. We have a Nest system with cameras, thermostat, and smoke alarm. We even have speakers connected to each other around the house. These always seem to work when he uses them, but for me, they crash and burn. But I will not give up! I have fixed some of the bugs by getting a new smartphone and understanding the issues that were keeping the technology from working. For the moment we are smooth sailing and this is awesome.
I will be keeping you updated on how the digital life is going by posting about apps and how the change is affecting my life. So far, Jason is excited about my choice and interested to see how long I can make it work.
What apps do you absolutely love? Do you prefer to do things digitally or analog?
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."