How to Make a Negroni: Thoughts on our relationship with technology

One of the two times I have forgotten my phone in the last decade, I was at a bar and ordered a negroni. The bartender wasn’t sure how to make one (surely a sign I should have gone to another bar), and I couldn’t look it up. I had looked it up many times before, but each time I had forgotten. Later, while wandering down the street, I came upon a kitchen supply store. After browsing through the different gadgets, I found a book of cocktails. And there, under negroni, I read:

  • 1 part gin
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • 1 part Campari

Interestingly, I haven’t forgotten about it since.

I realized in the course of writing this post that I wrote about this a few years ago. I mentioned being inspired by a Thomas Frank post, and since then he has come out with a nice video on the topic.

But this time I was thinking about how that relates to the David Allen concept that ‘our brains are for having ideas, not holding them.’ As part of the ‘Getting Things Done‘, or GTD, framework, Allen has created a system used by many high achievers where you offload your thoughts, ideas, and actionable items into an external framework, specifically organized to maximize productivity.

I maintain a sort of modified GTD system and find that when some task crops up in my head, I quickly forget them it unless I write them down in my system. So, where should I draw the line between thinking about things to remember them and writing them down so they don’t occupy mental space?

I think that a good compromise is this: for ideas and actions that originate in my head, quickly noting them so they don’t slip away is a useful tool to minimize forgetfulness. But for anything that involves critical thinking, it can be useful to spend some time working on it yourself before seeking help from Google or other people. I especially like the idea of noting the steps you take to try to solve the problem. This can be useful as a personal reference, but even more so if you are seeking aid from others. It helps them see where you tried and didn’t succeed, while simultaneously demonstrating initiative and that you aren’t just unloading all your work onto them.

As technology becomes more and more common in our daily lives, I think it is important to reflect on our relationship with it and, as with people, decide where we might need to draw boundaries.

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