Over the holidays, I wanted to write personalized Christmas cards to my friends and family to share with them how much we’ve been blessed this year, and how much we value their friendship in celebrating such a big year with us.
First I tried to make the time to go out and buy some nice lined paper (believe it or not, we don’t actually own any), or at least some nice cards or something to write in. That didn’t happen.
So then I thought, why don’t I order some paper online? Well, turns out I’m too cheap to pay for express shipping, and too lazy to sift through the countless types of paper that’s offered out there.
But wait! Light bulb! We have technology! Surely the wonders of email can remove the barriers for this task, right? I can open up my handy web browser on one of many devices that constantly surround me and get these puppies written with my 100 wpm typing in no time! … Yeeahhhh, no. Sadly in the end, I only managed to write a handful of my originally-well-intentioned Christmas cards, a fact which started the gears turning.
Does technology really progress our lives? Are we really that much better off with it? Or has it given us the excuse and the preoccupation to lose value in the truly valuable things?
You might have heard about the Back to Paper Revolution that’s been happening in certain pockets among the techies out there, where techies are abandoning their trusty gadget of choice for the convenience and tangibility of a pen and paper, all in the name of removing the noise of the ads on your device, the noise of all the random information being flooded at you.
I’ll take that a step further and assert that the reason behind the need to reduce the noise in our lives is because we’ve lost the ability to focus on that which is of utmost important. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say that we’ve lost the ability to figure out what that is!
In college, I used to re-write out my notes to make my study sheets – that process ended up being all the studying I needed to do for some courses. I quickly found that writing things down forced me to process what I wrote in a way that my lightning fast typing never could, and helped me focus on the things that mattered. By taking notes on my notes, I trained my brain to filter out the noise and find the important things in them.
Just as I needed to train my brain to study effectively, I’ve got to train my brain to live life effectively, richly and with purpose. But that doesn’t mean I have to abandon technology altogether and go back to pencil and paper! Like we talked about last time, life is a balance! And hey, pencil and paper were technological advancements at some point too, right?
The goal, then, is to take the time to focus on the things that matter, to focus on what needs to get done, and to figure out the best tools for the job. And hey, if you can share what you’ve learned, even better!
My wife calls me a self-help junkie, and admittedly, I am a little. But y’know, I’m okay with that – I want that rich, full life that we’re promised, and I’m not afraid to work for it. Care to join me?