Do this first, and everything else becomes easy.
Skip it, and you'll never find true peace in your digital life.
Why? Because not knowing what you're capable of means you're not really sure where you're going.
We often neglect our own self-reflection in favor of external pursuits. There's something in human nature that keeps us looking higher, going harder and faster, and in turn looking to outside solutions instead of taking inventory of where we currently stand and making a positive choice to change our course.
We also do a really good job of looking at the past and the future, but it's the current moment that we actually have control over. And when we stop to look around, we can discover truths about ourselves that we've missed while we were busy planning.
Remember the time you couldn't find that spreadsheet, that email, that pdf? You did your best in the search bar, or you went digging through your hard drive for 20 minutes, reshuffled some files along the way, and told yourself you'll "get around to organizing this soon?" This effort not only wastes time, but your mental resources as well. You've set yourself up for recurring failure because you never stopped and decided how you'd like to manage those files. Should you sort everything by client? By date? By file type? How about that passion project or business you told yourself you'd start? This wouldn't be a conversation for a digital minimalist 20 years ago, but today the front line for our work happens with our technology. That means any chance of success requires us to have our house in order.
And until you stop to make more intentional decisions for yourself, you stay caught in a perpetual cycle of disarray, expending all your energy keeping the ship afloat, instead of charting a course for smooth sailing.
But it's the latter that takes the most effort. If you're constantly distracted by holes in the bottom of the boat, you never get the time to plan, to ask the hard questions about where you want to go and how to make the journey worthwhile.
Organizations experience this pain most acutely. Because as you multiply in size, coordination becomes more difficult. It's easier and faster to change direction in a rowboat than in a cruise liner.
So where do you start?
Commit to your values. Why did you start doing this work in the first place? Who are you ultimately trying to serve? What are the tools of your trade?
If you're not re-charting your course on a regular basis, you wind up somewhere you didn't expect, calling out for help and hoping someone else will tell you where to go. But it's your journey. Electing a new captain only makes sense when you've got a destination in mind.
So stop for a moment and ask where you're going - you may be surprised to find there's a better way to get there.