As I'm sure you're aware, we're living in a time when information can become overwhelming, if you choose to let it. There are so many ways to fill our minds with data: websites, weblogs, email, RSS feeds, SMS, IM, phone calls, radio, TV, newspapers. magazines, books, and the list goes on and on.
While our info-overloaded society is a great for learning and information, it can become the very thing stopping us from reflecting on and digesting the information it offers.
Today, while briefly pondering life at the café, I came to realize that I don't set aside enough time for reflecting and digesting all of the information I consume. I'm doing a good job of getting input; but I see now that there just isn't a proper balance of digestion time available to me to deal with all that input.
Funnily enough, it was the very shortness of the time I had available for pondering, that clearly reinforced my need for dedicated reflection time. I'm reading or processing information during the day, but am I taking time to really digest it properly? Of course some bits of information need no digestion but many do, and I find myself so interested in what's new that I'm not stopping to evaluate what I've just read.
Reflection time is a luxury in fast paced technologically driven world and it means that I must step off the roller-coaster of life now and then to indulge in that luxury. But while it is a luxury, it is also necessary. If I don't take time to reflect, I lose the opportunity to step back from the rush of life for a broader look at how information applies to my life.
Where am I going? What have I done well or badly this past day, week, year? How does this new technology or news tidbit or thought effect me? What can I learn from what I've done or what others can teach me? How can I improve myself?
I have a small bound journal that I take out from time to time and write in, when the mood strikes. I usually take time to get away to a quiet place to reflect and then write my thoughts. After I've done this, I always feel much more focused. Often the very act of writing is what helps me process in a tangible way, what I may have been subconsciously thinking about.
Michael Ashby, in a recent post on his weblog (about paper) mentioned a separate personal journal he keeps in a bound book. I know other friends who do this as well and have always admired the idea but never thought I could maintain a daily journal. I think my daily weblog proves that I can indeed do something daily, even if it's a minor thought of the day, written before I nod off to sleep.
So, today I've decided to start a ritual of daily reflection for at least 15 minutes followed by writing my thoughts in a bound paper journal. I want to see how just a little reflection time and writing each day might impact my life and how I view the information I consume. Should be an interesting experiment, eh? :-)
If you have experiences with your own personal journal you can share, I'd love to hear them. If this post has encouraged you to start your own reflection journal, I'd be very pleased to hear about that too.
"The unreflected life is not worth living." -- Socrates