The creation and distraction station

We’ve never had it so good, and it’s never been more difficult

pre-script: the start is a little different (And longer). I’ve considered removing or shortening it, but… there’s a flow. Maybe it works. Let me know what you think. There are cool resources at the bottom.

I don’t know if I should share this…

My family and I are on holiday.

I’ve questioned sharing this as I understand that the current pandemic means each person’s situation is unique and some might not be able to take a similar holiday.

I also know that the internet has become a very judgmental place where we pass sentence first and find out facts later, if ever. Sharing that I’m “not following government guideline” (we are and are taking extra precautions) all for some self indulgence is practically asking for criticism.

None of the previous text is the point I want to discuss, but I felt like I had to include it because of everything I just said. It’s the same reasons I deleted an earlier social media post.

Packing light

My wife and I have always packed light. When we walked the Camino de santiago, we had a carry-on bag and no more. The same was true when we walked across Scotland and visited Malta two years ago.

But with the birth of our daughter, our one-bag-travel-lifestyles had pretty much ended. Another set of clothing, not to mention nappies, bottles and other paraphernalia take up a lot of space.

But on this journey we decided to pack light again. Just over two carry-on bags between the three of us.

The fact that my daughter is older and no longer needs multiple changes through out the day, as well as the hotter climate have helped, but the other factor is how little “stuff” we’ve taken.

I have a phone and my iPad (with no external keyboard) and the relevant chargers.

My wife has the same.

No laptop, no separate camera, only ebooks (okay, my daughter has her favourite kids books) no Apple Watch, AirPods or other stuff.

Stripping our tools down to this limited set has reminded me just how much creation you can do on a phone.

  • You can take and publish pictures

  • You can film video (with some limited stabilization on the modern phones)

  • You can make music on GarageBand

  • You can record and publish a podcast

  • You can write a newsletter and send it to your subscribers.

We really live in an age of abundance for creators. We’ve never had greater access to the tools to create what we want and share with interested parties. And that’s not even talking about the whole internet worth of information on how to create.

The distraction station

There is a more sinister side to these tools though. They are also distraction stations; devices filled with apps designed to capture our attention with an infinite stream of news, series and banality.

Left unchecked, our devices can default to a distraction station and not a creation station.

Pack light your device

I’m trying to make my devices as focused as my travel packing. Just what I need and no more.

  • The camera for photos

  • My favourite writing app

  • A solid notes app

  • A couple of productivity apps for task management and time tracking

  • And some deeper information apps like audio books and ebooks.

More importantly, there’s

  • No email

  • No Facebook or twitter (I’ve logged out on the web too)

  • No “news” podcasts, only topical ones

It helps, but there are still distractions even with these limits. Which is why my phone is spending a good deal of time not on my person and my ipad is rarely connected to the internet.

All of this to make a more creation focused device.

How to write about what matters - CJ Chilvers

I’m reminded of the pottery class experimented in the book “Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking“ by David Bayles. In the experiment, a pottery class was divided in two. One half would be judged on the quality of what they made (they needed to present one final masterpiece) the other on the quantity of what they made (they would have their total weighed).

The group who was judged on quantity also produced higher quality work.

That’s not my MacBook

I made a silly little parody of the “that’s not my ...” series of books, with an Accidental tech podcast theme. I hope you enjoy them, and I wonder.

If someone made a “that’s not my...” series about you, what would be? (Mine would be “that’s not my keyboard”).

Resources and interesting links