This week, I went through old handwritten journals from back in 2012 before I started my company. I was amazed at how clear my thinking was at the time, the insights and ideas I had, and the amount of ideas I produced. I don’t feel that way about my production these days.
The Internet is incredible. Access to information is powerful. The speed at which we are able to communicate is unbelievable. I have received most of my education through apply what I learned from online courses and blogs to real life situations. It has not only made it possible for me to pursue my goals, it has been a catalyst to achieving them.
But for the last few years, my Internet habits have become more debilitating less catalyzing.
A trend started appearing in my daily journal three years ago: I started noticing I was feeling less mentally sharp, more anxious, and less clear on my goals. A couple years later I wrote and entry about noticing my online behavior shifting from active learning to passive consumption. I used to go online to learn about a specific topic. That practice transitioned into a habit where today, I go online to see what the internet has served up for me.
I believe in intentionality, having a clear picture of the end goal and taking deliberate action towards that end, but I have been unable to focus, think, and act at the level necessary for me to reach my goals. This has to change.
I am realizing that all of the shortcuts technology offers me in task management, relationship management, and education has come at a cost. I am using less of my brain power. My attempt to free myself from the limitations of analog tools and resources has handcuffed my ability to be productive.
Here is what I am doing about it.
I looked at what I was doing during the time when I felt the most creative and productive and doing those same things.
For starters, I switched back to a notebook for notes, planning, calendar, etc. I’m testing the Bullet Journal method and keeping it simple—no doodles and elaborate pages. I like writing ideas out and problem solving on paper over a computer, and I am ok with having to duplicate the information on a computer when necessary. (This post is a combination of notes from the last two weeks of notebook entries.)
Second, I am reading physical books and reading with the intention of learning. The rule is I must take notes on things that jump out to me and think about action steps I will take as a result of having the new information. I can put my computer and phone away, sit with a book and a notebook, and learn more than I would get from clicking through my blog feeds. I have read two books in the last week.
Finally, I have crippled my iPhone down close to what it was like in 2012. I deleted all social media apps and any app where the work is better done on a computer. My inspiration for this came from one of the books that I read: Digital Minimalism. I don’t want to be distracted by my phone, scrolling and tapping away while I could spend time on more productive pursuits.
I feel better. It’s only been a couple weeks since I started this process, though I feel my brain coming back to life.