Jan 172011

Weeks, months, even years, fly by. We are incredibly busy but can’t remember what we were busy on three days ago, or last week, or last month. In this tornado life with howling winds of other people’s urgencies (the Urgency Conspiracy), it is not surprising that we often feel frustrated.  The constant state of frustration comes from lack of real progress in our lives that we subconsciously crave.

To make real progress, there is a natural order of steps. Making progress while reducing frustration and stress is quite possible for the Optimistic Few. But it is impossible to jump out of the tornado and onto the real progress path without clearly and accurately knowing…

  1. where you are today,
  2. what you are spending your time and energy on most weeks, and
  3. understanding the triggers that suck you back into the Urgency Conspiracy for another tumultuous week.

I’m a huge proponent of Pale Ink.  I take this phrase from an ancient anonymous quote “A good memory does not equal Pale Ink.

Pale Ink is the extraordinary technology that will bring peace to your mind and progress to your life. Luckily, ink was invented around 2,500 BC by the Chinese and Egyptians so we can be assured that the bugs have been shaken out of the system nearly 5,000 years later.

Start a little journal today and don’t stop jotting daily notes down for the rest of your life. I promise that you will be far better off for it.

When you make notes about how you spend your day, you have taken the single most important step toward investing your time better in the future.  Write down what you did, what unexpected items and people took over certain days, how you succeeded, and what set backs you suffered.  Don’t make the Harriet-the-Spy mistake of letting your journal fall into the wrong hands and if you decide to make comments about others that would be damaging in the wrong hands, please do those in code.  Daily journaling is step one in leveraging the extraordinary power of Pale Ink in your life.  More to come on Pale Ink in coming weeks.

How you set yourself up is a matter of preference. My personal system for journaling is rather interesting. Having watched several close friends suffer the loss of a critical hard drive and valuable data in the past, I overcompensate against loss. The good news is that I have worked out a process that does not cost much time. I spend less than 15 minutes per month to gain 100% protection against loss on all my journal notes, except for the most recent few pages.

1) I prefer real ink on real paper for notes, and the journals I use are Moleskine’s sweet Cahier notebooks @ a nice 80 pages each, thin and light enough, yet big enough for several months of notes. Barnes and Noble carries them in-store or there is always the time saving web.

2) Before starting the new journal, I mark every ten pages as a spot for a backup.  When my journaling reaches the backup spot, I use my smartphone to take pictures of the last ten pages and email those pictures to my free Gmail** and Evernote** accounts for safekeeping in case of loss.  This step results in three copies of the journal as the pictures taken also reside on the smartphone.  When I connect the smartphone to my PC a few times each week, another copy is made.  Lastly, the auto-backup programs (see Step 4 below) I have wake up while I’m sleeping and replicate the PC files to two more locations before the dawn of the next day.

3) When I forget my journal, I take temporary notes on my smartphone, then transfer them later in the day to my journal.

4) My PC automatically backs up its data to two places – another PC at my home using free DeltaCopy** and a hard drive at my friend’s house on the other side of the city using free CrashPlan** encrypted backup system, so ultimately, I have onsite and offsite backups of my journal images. We live in an amazing time and diskspace is really cheap. If you don’t yet take advantage of the great backup systems that are available, it is time to spend an hour and learn how easy it is to protect yourself and not lose all those irreplaceable notes and family photos.  If you only want one, try Carbonite or CrashPlan.

Keep a daily journal and you take an important step toward the wisdom of knowing thyself.

** Note:

Google clearly makes great money on ads, but there are a lot of venture capital fueled, equity-burning businesses out there giving us consumers free services that are clearly valuable.

Given that some of these will fail, I think it makes obvious sense to have a lot of backups in this free-services era.  All will not survive on advertising alone.  Many are trying to make it giving away their service to 90% of the casual users while making money on the 10% power users.  This idea may crack too, although Moore’s Law is really helping give it a fighting chance as the cost to provide virtual services continues to plummet year over year.

There is so much opportunity if you are an optimist.  The fact that Wikipedia continues to grow like kudzu on the back of donations is awesome.  If Wikipedia had to, it could go to ads and make extraordinary money overnight.  So there is lots of hope too.  Lest we forget, Google started as ‘no ads’ and has since changed its collective mind to become the most dominant force on the internet planet.

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