The year of post-it-notes and mindfulness
January 12, 2015
For a nethead and digerati like myself, 2014 was a year of ironies.
For one, if I was to name the go-to-tool that played the most pivotal role for me at work last year, it has to be post-it-notes - and then there was that whole mindfulness business.
I guess it’s a occupational injury of sorts that I often (mostly for fun) sum up my personal year in a headline akin to how I used to sum up media or technology years when that was my professional beat.
But most of the time I think I refrained from publising those more personal headlines, though they often corresponded with the work I was doing. E.g. I think I dubbed my 2011 the year of iPad and anti-social sharing because the device became so key to my work and life that year and yet I found my social media use to have become rather anti-social compared to what it had been before because I did most of the sharing via apps like Flipboard and Hootsuite – which created very a different, much less social, communication mode for me in a busy worklife.
And last year, I sort of re-discovered and came to lean heavily on post-it-notes - of all things.
I spent (and spend) a substantial amount of my working hours structuring and re-thinking the sub pages of a university web site, including all its research, by way of mapping the content and content desires of the various departments. And post-it-notes happened to be the perfect tool for doing it. Especially for workshops where the attendees are working in groups, but also when I was/am working on my own.
I did check out a few online tools that could be used for the job, but especially when working in groups I found post-it-notes to be an easy, flexible and useful option.
Besides, over the last few years I’ve found more and more that for certain uses I prefer pen and paper to digital tools because the former give me a very visceral feeling of thinking with my fingers.
So much so that I think my first "work related" purchase this year might be a flip-over for my home (which obviously will come out of my own pocket).
I’ll readily admit that this sense of sometimes "thinking better" when working with pen and paper is an intuitive feeling, but this experience is actually supported by science: Scientist have found that writing by hand does strengthen the learning process, among other things.
But it’s definently not, at least for me, all kind of learning and thinking that is best done by hand – very far from.
I strongly prefer writing blog posts, articles and most other such things, in fact doing most of my writing, on a computer connected to the internet. But I find that when structuring large amounts of information, like when working on the architecture of a big web site or writing a book, pen and paper can come in really, really handy in certain stages of the project.
Until I find less intrusive solutions than FitBit and Moves, I shall also do most of my lifelogging in a good old fashioned notebook (I do of course fancy a smart watch, but rationally I know it will drive around the bend unless I can find one that runs on what Amber Case calls calm technology) .
Talking about life logging, I’ve also worked hard to turn my life around / change my lifestyle in 2014. That’s were that mindfulness business comes in. Now a lot of people will tell you how delightful and calming and all kinds of wonderful taking up meditation or another form of mindfulness practice is, but I must admit I’ve rarely felt more anxiety and pain than for the first year or so of getting into this stuff.
Though the emphasis is on "felt". Turns out I’ve been what therapists call "frozen" (probably since the accident I was in 20 years ago) and not really in touch with all my feelings etc. That’s part of what has enabled me to come through so much adversity and work such crazy hours for much of my life.
And getting in touch with all that stuff again, becoming more mindful if you like, was hardly frictionless: I honestly had no idea I had so much anxiety or so many (mostly minor) physical pains.
I did and do benefit from mindfulness training and meditation, I’ve found some very useful tools in it, but I also think it perfectly sensible of whichever part of me who acted to want to be "unmindful" for long periods of my life (I’ve written more on stuff related to this process in Norwegian here).
So: Onwards. For me, the year of post-it-notes and mindfulness has definently meant progress. That may sound counterintuitive, but essentially the year has made me a more balanced person - or a better version of myself.