From Loose Leaf to Email, a Journey of Jots

Published: Nov 25, 2021

When I was in middle and high school, I’d keep jots on a sheet of loose leaf paper throughout the day. I’d unfold it and refold it each time, the process was sort of romantic. Thoughts would come to me during class, and I knew if I didn’t write them down, they’d float away.

Now, these weren’t your Golden Schoolboy jots. No, these were fun. Entries like: “Work on getting x number of headshots to unlock new M16 camo”, or “See if James wants to do a tournament at his house Friday night”. So, mostly Call of Duty related. Occasionally I’d throw in some soon-to-be-due homework or project assignments.

Fast forward to today. Then replace loose leaf with email.

My process is roughly the same. I’m going about my day and a thought arrives. I know if I don’t shoot myself a quick email, I likely won’t remember the thought.

Or maybe I’m in the middle of a task and something else pops up, or 3 other things pop up. In which case I blast off multiple emails with a short description of each task.

Or maybe I’m lying in bed at night and an idea for a work problem comes to me. A small email is enough to jog my memory the next day for the details.

It’s even made its way into my relationships. Kylynn can tell me something, and I may remember it. Or she can email me, and I will.

I think the mental weight of holding a TODO item in your head can be more tiring than expected. By writing it down, whatever the medium may be, that mental space is freed up.

Why does this work? I think it comes down to the way I feel about email, in that there are 2 types of messages: read or unread. And I hate the sensation of having unread emails. I hate it so much that I’ve disabled app badges on my iPhone and MacBook. Because, come on now, I don’t have time to be bothered with staring at that little red badge counter all day.

It’s enough for me to open email, see what is unread, then deal with it. I often filter my messages this way, such that only unread messages show. If something is read, I know I’ve dealt with it.

The downside of all this is I have to be super picky about what I subscribe to. I want my inbox to be a place of messages from real people, or at least a place of newsletter-type-things I chose to receive.