Brett Peters worked remotely as an IT professional for 7 years, until suddenly the company he was working for shut its doors.
Brett wrote an excellent article about the sudden change, and he shares some of his thoughts on the past 7 years of doing digital work and working remotely for a tech company:
Building virtual things leaves very little behind. There’s nothing to grasp, nothing to point to, no buildings or monuments to your labor. I think we forget sometimes how important that is. It might seem childish, or at least child-like, to want to commemorate important events with ribbons and trophies and badges — but that’s unfair and unkind. Kids recognize a truth we try to forget as adults — a physical representation of an achievement gives you something to hold on to.
Brett’s right. There are two sides to the digital task- and project-management coin. There is the awesome side: your tasks and projects are scalable, collaborative, in sync between all your devices, and you can easily attach emails, URLs, photos, and all sorts of other data to your tasks.
However, the not-as-awesome side to digital tools is that when a task is completed it disappears and leaves no trace it ever existed; no scratched out note commemorating a job well done and a hard day’s work.
For a year and a half I kept a hipster PDA in the form of a small, pocket-sized Moleskine. It served as my to-do list and note-taking tool. Like Brett, I also keep my old notebooks. My pocket Moleskine sits in the same box as all my used and unused Field Notes.
From time to time I’ll page through that old hipster PDA and just look at page after page after page of tasks I’d written down and crossed off. This morning I was flipping through it again, when I realized something curious. The tasks and notes trail off right around the summer of 2008… the same time the iPhone App Store launched.