Analogue vs Digital

Analogue Versus Digital Planning Formats (and which is best for your life)

We have long since left the days of the Industrial Revolution. However, we have not left the argument of whether we ought to fully adapt and change to an ever modernizing world, embrace the digital lifestyle yet secretly continuing to stroke the books we find in bookshelves, hoping no one will see us whispering sweet nothings to it as we take a big whiff of its innards.  

Are you a Kindle or are you a book?
iPhone or address book?
iPhone or Desk Calendar?
iPhone or notebook?
iPhone or tape measure? You get the gist. 

Despite the mass production of digital devices, and much to the detriment of our environment, paper planners are not only still around, but are making a comeback. I've read plenty of bloggers rather bigoted points of view which categorize those who use paper planners as "defunct" "outdated" "antiquated" and have even REFUSED those who enter meetings with a paper notebook and writing implement because they would be "slowing everyone else down."
Let us then first create distinctions between Analogue and Digital objects so that we can better relate to the world around us. The following information is stolen from a Scientific American article, entitled "The Reading Brain"dated April 11, 2013.

Analogue vs. Digital 

  1. Information Processing and can be identified as analogue if it is discrete rather than continuous pieces of information. The purpose of a piece of information or object one is looking at can be readily understood without explanation such that even if you don't know what it does, you can determine what is "most likely" used for. 
  2. Digital information or objects can be simulated by a digital computer or algorithm and their purposes are not easily identifiable just by looking at the object. 

ALWAYS ALREADY OBSOLETE is the mantra of digital devices and feed the consumerist mindset making users crave and reject an item simply based on modifications that hold the promise of a "productive" lifestyle. 

In "Proust and the Squid" by Maryanne Wolf, the author delves into the story and science of the reading brain. She very clearly states "using one kind of technology does not preclude us from understanding another." And so perhaps a combination of collection devices is best for humans who live in an analogue world but have brains that are both digital and analogue simultaneously. 
Our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper and the evidence collected in a Scientific American article dated April 11, 2013 called "The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens" we see that although people have embraced e-readers for their convenience and portability, they admit for SOME REASON they still prefer reading on paper, even those who have already vowed to forgo tree pulp entirely.
But handwriting and reading text on paper as opposed to e-ink allows us to establish mental map generation, a physical landscape of the material that if laid out would very much have hills, valleys and mountains, much like topographical map. We carry the "cities" of books in our heads allowing us to rest, exert and most importantly retain the information in way that cannot be manipulated digitally. The four or eight corners of a page or book allow us physical limitations within which our brain remembers that the butler murdered a guest at the bottom left corner of page 59. Paper is a dynamic medium, much more dynamic than touch screens. We as human beings are more dynamic than the smartphones we carry, which is why we still crave dynamic mediums and print out emails. 
Understanding this, and how our own handwriting 
The research results may seem common sense or obvious to many of us. If you're interested in the biology behind writing's effect on our achievements, though, here's a little background: Writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you're actively focusing on at the moment—something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront. In Write It Down, Make It Happen, author Henriette Anne Klauser says that "Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don't miss this detail!' Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that […] were there all along."


Which brings us back to figuring out what kind of system would work best for you in lifestyle modularization. See if this chart can help you.

Things That Can Happen To Your Device Or Your Device Can Do
Digital Devices
Analogue Devices
Lost, damaged, stolen
 
Killed with a magnet

Used without electricity

Transmits information quickly and internationally
Scan and send!
Quickly duplicated
Carried through airports with no additional fondling by security

Dynamic interface

Can be used within .01 seconds of opening

Indicates how much space is used without opening

Must be stowed away on take off




Personally, I use the Filofax (with a hint of Mulberry thrown in) brand of paper planners. I tried a variety of brands and ultimately settled on a system I can trust. Even at 2:00 in the morning when I used to wake up wondering if I forgot to "insert panicked thought here". My planner has all these details. The more time I spend with my planner the more I understand how my brain works and the easier I can begin to compartmentalize and break into do-able chunks the uncultivated areas of my life. Ann Vital has a wonderful Infographic that includes 7 areas of life that can be streamlined into processes. (Here is a link to her infographic: http://notes.fundersandfounders.com/post/59500063068/productivity
We will discuss productivity and GTD in future posts. Let me know if you have an intense desire to want to print out the infographic. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. 



Deliberate Living- Designing Your Own Life (and why it matters)




Deliberately Showing Up.

Life is for the living and in life, if you are not living, you are dying. I am absolutely dedicated to creating a life worth living for myself. A life which allows me the luxury of time and space to do with as I please and to work when I want to, on projects I care about, spending my time with people whose company I enjoy. A life where money flows with ease and relationships are treasures. I am creating a life where I design my purpose with God's blessing, to honor everyone that came before me and didn't make it as far and to remind those that come after me, to take the slow road, to check the map, laminate it, hole punch it and place it in their planner, because maps are useful creatures and SatNavs often lose connection with satellites.


I am writing these notes as a guide to those who seek the same things in life. This blog is dedicated to all those who understand this writer's simple desire to travel the world at a moment's notice and have a life so streamlined and effectual, that she could, with a phone call from the first class airplane seat, notify the current house-sitters that "the packet in the third drawer on the left side in the office desk will be picked up by the accountant on Thursday" and could then easily pull her eye mask down, plug in some ambient music and relax, knowing that every thing has been taken care of to the fullest degree of self actualization. This blog is about deliberately being the best you and tracking those experiences by:
  1. Identifying the various important portions of your life, 
  2. Turning them into palatable projects (modules)
  3. And understanding how to manage those modules through small but permanent lifestyle changes, resulting in a self-actualized and deliberately designed life. 


So Why Does Designing A Deliberate Life Matter?

Without an objective view into our own lives, we are bound to live it based on the needs and pulls of others, rarely to our own benefit. Even at our best, during a given day, the internal monologue machine leans on being highly critical instead of highly inspirational. Inspiration is sought out on occasion, filling a well that often satiates others but leaves us very little for our own inspirational thirst. All the retreats and holidays in the world can't make up for an unfulfilled life and when it comes to living, fulfillment is the first need that is set aside for more practical gains, like salary or vacation time. 


Which reminds me of a story: A business executive find himself working 50-70 hours a week. He gives up time with his family, time for himself and his well-being to ensure the company moves forward with its mission. In fact, the company offers him 3 weeks paid vacation at the end of his 10th year instead of the regular 2 weeks. Overjoyed, he takes his family to an all expenses paid, island getaway. On his last morning there, the business executive decides to talk a walk out onto the rocky cliffs, overlooking the pristine water. He notices a local selling fruit juice, made from the fruits collected under the very tree that was providing him shade, the local had a makeshift sign that read: Fifty cents a cup.

The business executive chuckled to himself, walked over to the native and said "Why don't you charge more money for your juice? You could make more money per cup."
The native responded "Why do I need more money?"
The business executive retorted "So you can pay someone to stand here and sell fruit juice while you take your family on vacation. It has taken me 10 years to get to a point where I have sold enough product so I can have the money I need to bring my family here. Don't you want that for yourself?"
The native blinked once and said "I have that already. We just wake up here in the morning."


To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness. 

-Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now


The Way We Live


We are perpetually thrust into conforming around the world's schedule, those of us caught living in the Occident. We imbue our lives with to-do lists, pilates schedules, work routines, hydrating events (yes, I heard it referred to as an "event") and various time mismanagement set-ups that focus on simplifying overcomplicated lives by overspending money we overwork to produce in order to pay the bills that allow us to complicate our lives ad nauseum.


While the process of simplification, a noble process at that, is seemingly an aggregate of our conscious minds' ongoing to-do list of things to...do before we die, we discover that no one ever writes: "Pilates 3:00-4:00, hopefully I'm still alive then." We assume, in linear fashion, time will speed up or slow down proportionally based on the scale of exciting to boring events we've either planned to go through willingly or exposed ourselves to, in order to get one step closer to death. Really.

So if this is a zero sum game, this life, why bother planning at all? Is it, hurry up and get x-much done before we buy the farm? Or is it, hurry up and get the boring bits done so we can sit and relax before we buy the farm? Or is it, hurry up and get it done because we are buying the farm and want the kids to have the keys before we go? Either way, the farm is getting bought! Assuming we are channeling our inner Aristotle and we want to examine our lives to make them worth living, are we then in fact, examining or lives through planning or merely beating the battle rhythm of what life presents us by writing down the unfortunate events that will eventually lead to our demise?

What if we decided to extrapolate the concept of planning into modular blocks of life, which, upon desired arrangement, offer a blueprint of how to live vis a vis how we are living? What if we made our life's purpose creating a systematic approach to arranging the chunks of limited life into a rearrangeable order such that we left behind legacies of how to best live life a-la ( insert your last name here)?

So, how is this blueprint to be captured? Do we use paper systems that can get lost, stolen or damaged to capture our information or rely on digital systems that can be lost, stolen or damaged? Part two of this series will discuss Analogue vs Digital formats. For now, let's err on the side of using analogue systems. That is, systems that do not have an on/off switch-Paper Planners. Any brand will do! Some brands to consider are Filofax Personal Organizers, Day Timer, Franklin Covey, Gillio, Midori Traveler's Notebooks and Moleskine Notebooks. The whole point is to find a system that can be streamlines, duplicated and integrated.

My suggestion is to set up a planner and deliberately begin designing your life.

Where Do I Start? Start Where You Are.

There certainly must be areas of your life that are working, areas where things are flowing as you would want them to be. These are the modules of your life that may need tweaking every so often but you've figured them out. Perhaps you just want to track these areas. Creating an entire planner for finances, when everything is flowing right, might be a bit much. However, tracking finances as a tab within a planner would be a logical conclusion.

Why not begin with an area of your life where you have a complaint? An area that has a pattern of showing up in ways that are not pleasing to you. Pick that one. That's a good one. Yes, the one you just thought of and said to yourself "Why would I ever want to bring THAT skeleton out of its closet?" That's the very one we are talking about. Let's shine some light on the bugger. It's not like anyone else is going to see him.

In case you haven't picked up on life's many secrets yet, here's Life Lesson No. 1: Life will continue to teach you the same lesson until you get it. So, if you are experiencing a repetition of problems or patterns in your life you would like to stop, consider this to be a "module" for you to work on. Create a tab, label it with whatever you want to call it, e.g., "Healthy Eating" and start focusing your attention on everything that rings true to your senses. If it "feels" good to think about a subject, continue to focus upon it. If it doesn't, don't.




Where are all your important phone numbers listed in case your phone is ever stolen?