I have done my fair share of public speaking, but it has generally been in a business context and mostly to professionals who want to learn how going paperless can improve their business or their life.
This time was different. This time I was about to take the stage at SimpleREV in Minneapolis, and I was much more nervous than usual.
It could have been the fact that I was on 3 hours of sleep (thank you Sun Country). It could have been that I was coming from 31 degrees in Southern California to 3 degrees in Minnesota and was trying to recover from a brutal cold.
Truth be told, the main reason was that I knew that this audience was different. This was an audience that not only uses paper, but loves paper.
Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist was there. Mike Vardy from Productivityist was there, and just a week earlier he had done a podcast about his love for paper. David Delp from Pilot Fire was handing out stacks of index cards to the audience.
In other words, this was not a group of accountants or real estate agents. So what the heck was I doing there?
Mostly it was because I truly believe that it is hard to focus on simplicity and being mindful if you have “stuff” all over the place and don’t know where anything is.
To me it is hard to live a contented life if you have to dig through piles of paper to find that one crucial document, or if you have to worry, even subconsciously, that you are one hard drive crash away from losing your entire digital life.
Thankfully, no one threw rare Japanese pens, artisanal notebooks, or staplers at me. The aforementioned Patrick Rhone was kind enough to sketchnote my talk, and here were his main takeaways:
My focus, other than the tactical aspects was:
- Going paperless does not necessarily mean a total absence of paper or taking away activities that you love to do. It is just about being mindful of the paper that you use and the paper that you keep.
- Think about what it is you are actually trying to achieve.
- Think about how you are actually going to find these documents later.
- The most important thing is to make sure your documents are protected, and this means backing up to more than one location.
My goal for my talk was to have people put some thought into how they store and find their digital documents, and most importantly to make sure that their digital lives were backed up. I was pleased to see that at least one person took action.
— Sarah Wehkamp (@sarahwehkamp) October 13, 2014
It is always good to do some things that are outside of your comfort zone, and speaking at SimpleREV was definitely one of them. If nothing else, I learned the origin of the name of Flin Flon, Manitoba.
(Photo by Mitchell Gerskup)