I’m a fan of technology, but from an organizing perspective, I think the gadgets are starting to get a little out of hand. The promise these items hold when we see them in the store or on a commercial is immense. Any possible stress or struggle in your life can be solved because: “there’s an app. for that!” Really? Wow, sign me up. What they don’t tell you is the amount of money you’ll be spending on this gadget, and all of the gadget’s little friends you have to buy separately before it looks like the one in the TV ad. They also don’t tell you how much time you’ll need to spend figuring out how all of these things work, figuring out how to re-train your mind away from your old system to this new one. No, they don’t tell you that.
And yet, we continue to buy them. The latest and greatest. The new and improved. The thing you’ve been waiting your whole life for. Enough, Madison Avenue, enough! Every week I see houses filled with this stuff, unused or barely used. These devices are supposed to make our lives more efficient, less stressful, and give us free time. Instead, what I see are clients who are confused, over-worked, tired, and burned-out – with the extra clutter of gadgets, chargers, boxes, wires, syncing docks, etc., etc….
That said, I actually own one of those “smart” phone devices. I like it, but it isn’t my entire life. I still take lots of notes – on paper! I like that it is essentially no different from the one I had 7 years ago. It’s just smaller and lighter. Bravo to the company who helped me maintain a system that is easy to work with for all of these years. I pray that they will continue to make it. I know I’m probably kidding myself.
I started thinking about this because of a client who has a “fancy phone” (no need to advertise) for a few months now and has just discovered how to turn the ringer on and off. Some people might snicker at this, but I believe this is a fundamental and systemic problem with planned obsolescence, and if you own a phone or a computer more than a year old you might as well have stone tablets and an abacus. Typewriters were just fine for people for about a hundred years. Sure, they got better, but they were still essentially the same. How can we keep up with technology that changes so dramatically every few months? I’m all for learning new things, but some of us were not cut out to be IT specialists and we should stop pretending that we were.
So, my answer is – resist the urge! Resist the urge, which is coming from an external force of advertisers with years of training in manipulation, to own the latest computer, the latest kitchen gadget, the latest phone that does more than any phone should, the latest gaming system, and the latest music system. If you have a record player – good for you! Use it, enjoy it. Take pleasure in the process of putting a record on a turn-table and gently placing the needle down and waiting to hear it “catch”. (And, here’s another thought – the reason we don’t play records is because it’s too hard to multi-task when you have to pick a needle up at the end of the record. So why do we always have to multi-task? Can’t we just do one thing at a time anymore??) Enjoy doing things “by hand” once in a while. Don’t let the anyone tell you there’s something wrong with you if you write to-do’s on a note pad. Remember, your life can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Outside forces only have as much power as we give to them. Stop clutter at the source, and don’t buy something to replace an item that still works well. Choose tools that work for you, and ignore the rest – they’ll be obsolete next month, anyway.
Live abundantly clear,