Contents Added: Saturday, July 9th, 2022,
Author: Mattanaw, Christopher Matthew Cavanaugh
Former Chief Architect, Adobe Systems
Current President/Advisor, Social Architects and Economists International.
Created Monday, June 20th, 2022,
This page is a development off of the earlier project which was undertaken for several years called, unloftily, the “Personal Form”. The objective of the personal form was to arrange materials that served the purpose of guiding life on a daily bases, creating organization, and providing a means of intaking data to track activities.
Here is a page with scans and evolution of the original Personal Form.
The personal form was intended to provide a daily method akin to what might one day be provided by technology, but was not provided at the time and is not provided today. A fundamental objective of the form was to have a way of keeping track of key ingredients of a good life plan, tailored individually. While there are devices today that try to record and keep some information on your behalf, none do it in a comprehensive way or in a way that is really feasible for your best mental development. If you were to train yourself by taking on the task of collecting and recording your own information you could use a paper form like this one, or else you could use a digital form or a digital spreadsheet. At the time of the creation of my personal form, there was no good means of digitally inputting the information. Later with the advent of online spreadsheets like Google Docs/Sheets, it was found that the technology was still inadequate for the task for a variety of reasons which can be later shared. Online forms associated with spreadsheets, or other forms, were also suboptimal by comparison to a simplel paper form. I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how I could convert the paper based form to an online form and found that the paper form was simply superior to an online form, and it appears this is still true today.
With this section I am resuming the development of this personal form which I stopped working on nearly 10 years ago.
I will resume collecting information using the same paper-based method as before, but using a modified form tailored to my current needs, since they are dramatically different from my needs before.
The Form included a number of categories which served to focus attention on those aspects of life that are necessary for ensuring that nothing serious is omitted from plans and activities for a long period of time.
For example, one may be especially interested for a period in money until one’s livelihood reaches a certain level of stability. During that time, money would be a primary category of attention and would, perhaps, have a higher position in the form for greater attention, and more time would be spent reviewing and refreshing on goals that relate to money, and also on recording information relating to daily transactions or financial planning. Working on this priority it is assured that time and energy would be taken away from other categories. Each of the categories I included were those I thought were important to me for having a high quality life, and high quality self-training; however, it is and was not possible to continue recording on each topic. Recording and focusing on any individual topic takes a considerable amount of time. Taking it for one priority removes time for the others. Certainly, one does not want to spend too much time with a form such as this. One finding I had in this process is that one really does have a very limited amount of attention for guiding any aspect of one’s life. One has to focus on the most important items, keep the others somewhat in awareness, and admit that one cannot make improvements globally over time. There has to be sufficient focus on specific categories of personal importance, prioritized temporarily over others, until certain accomplishments are achieved.
To give another example. I was very overweight when I started the form. Accounting for my nutrition and calories, and my exercise was of great importance. However, over time I trained myself to not really require the form any longer to maintain my weight and my fitness. I could have improved my fitness further, but instead, I realizedI should focus my attention on other things, having already trained myself to automatically do what I needed to do about my weight, eating habits, and fitness. Today my weight is in a reasonable range and I’m very good at keeping my fitness in a good place. However, I have let certain things slide which require more attention, and so today my priorities using these same categories would be different than they were formerly.
The categories in the form can be altered depending on who is using the form. It is possible that categories could be combined, some omitted, and some others included. However, I have found that these categories, after much development, are comprehensive. They do seem to exhaustively cover what a good life consists of, at least in my life. There is nothing that I would want to record that would not have a category already existing for it. One can categorize and re-categorize many times without much benefit. This organization really is adequate for the task of prioritizing my life and making sure all is covered and nothing too important has been omitted. When I say “all is covered” I don’t mean that all is given equal attention, or much attention at all. Rather, I mean to say, nothing is totally forgotten that could be of importance. If you observe people who act as mentors in your life who are really good at what they do, you’ll see they will scan for what you might be missing that is of importance. Living in a good family as a child, one would have most parts of life covered without much attention or thought about it. Others are looking after you and may notice if suddenly you are not active or are not eating well, or are excessively isolated and not spending time with friends. However, when you are alone, only you are attentive to what you are doing, and it is much easier to let certain things deteriorate, while certain other parts of life are in focus.
The purpose of the form, and the life categories and priorities, is to keep important parts of life in view at the least, and to focus your efforts and attention to those areas that are important for the moment.
This section will contain developments on this idea and reflections on what is involved in following such a process, and ways to improve and develop the process.
This website has limited interest to others except when I share particular articles to particular audiences. I.e. as a personal website, I cannot expect a large readership. There is much to pay attention to online and in the media, and I don’t know anyone who routinely reads of anyone’s web page or blog specifically. I think mostly personal websites and blogs are disappointments to those who write them, who hope for better reactions and more reading attention. I anticipated this in a writing I prepared that is also related to this, called Rational Times. Rational times is like the personal form in that the goal was to record and read writings prepared by the self that were in times of special rationality, versus other times when there is less clarity, ingenuity, or rationality in behavior. People are good guides for themselves when they are in the right mentality, and can benefit later from that same mentality if they left themselves recordings. In any case, I wrote about how I did not expect that others would read my writing. I think most who write understand that firstly the use has to be for oneself, because if others are not interested, the motivation for continuing or using what one has written has to involve personal self-interest and enjoyment. If others find it of interest then that is excellent, and perhaps there is a way to earn money from the activity, but that is secondary. I anticipated that in my life people would not read my writing, for a variety of reasons. This website became a confirmation of this expectation. I don’t think anyone will dwell on my website and read much of what I wrote. I do think chunks of the site will have interest to people after I put it in front of them online or in person. But the attention of others is very limited, except for themselves and their already existing interests, which might mean doing what I’m doing:
Ignoring most of what goes on that others create, but creating much on my own that is to my own benefit.
And with that it is clear that I’m also not paying too much attentnion to the writings of others. Rather, I found writings of certain people and gave them considerable attention, but very little attention to others in my environment who have blogs or other materials to share. I would look, but not for too long.
On this website I’m experimenting on myself. I’m transparently sharing my own personal developments. I use my own website. In addition to the personal form, on paper, I will use these sections for my own inspiration and training. Anyone who is interested may use these pages also, of course, but I am not making specific recommendations here for anyone, although I do make comments about what appears to be generally applicable.
This portion of the site on life-categories and priorities has been in development since 2006. While I discontinued use of the personal form, I continued to use the concepts here in many diverse ways penetrating other parts of my life. It has certainly permeated much of what I do. It has also influenced my career as a technologist and consultant, and has figured into my way of organizing my thinking, and my software which organizes all of my digital possessions. This website is a culmination of the use of the personal form with respect to personal organization. I would want readers to understand that this site and section is not something that is simply written with little experience without good results. My life has been very fruitful in large measure because of these efforts that I’ve taken, and my mind is not the same mind as a result. I think others would benefit from the considerations I included here, but again, to use my motto I had written in my paper copy of Rational Times:
“Insofar as we are similar, we are similar; Insofar as we are different we are different.” – used to the effect that advice to myself may work for you if you are similar to me in the respects to which the advice applies.
I’m not the same now as I was then, so even some advice then, is inapplicable now, for the same person.
This site may, at this time, be considered a somewhat masterful self-application. The system is still in development too so there’s much to learn still, that I will focus on applying to myself. My objective here is not to apply it to others or create expectations for others. This is really about self-support and personal development.
[Written in 38 minutes without edits. Finished 11:09 a.m.]
[Update: Saturday, July 9th, 2022. After subsequent review of the prior section it was determined that minor errors and typos can remain permanently, which means this 38 minute portion of time was adequate to forever complete this writing. No editing at all was required, and this means the flow from the mind was of the mind of the time, and no changes to that output are reasonable for losing the information as to that state of mind. If you want to know a mind well it is beneficial that those minds leave you unedited thoughts, excluding of course, any self-corrections which happen spontaneously along the short duration of recording or conversing.]
Saturday, July 9th, 2022,
The size of the form is an interesting thing for consideration which would involve differences of opinion as to what is individually effective. Again, I have to focus on what I found desirable and useful, and share what seems different from the beginning to what I experienced later, since not all developments are permanent improvements!
I start with writing on quarter pages that were hand cut from inexpensive printer paper. That method today still seems very desirable. A major reason for having the form on a single sheet of paper is to make it feel as though very little is carried along during the day, and that there is no issue having the paper moment to moment, in a pocket or other. Being small, it hardly takes and space, creates any discomfort, or has any noticable weight. You can keep it in the pocket as a male and not feel annoyed by having too many things touching the legs, or changing appearance of the pants. One can put one’s hands in the pockets and not be too annoyed by the feel. The feel of the paper is also in your control. Smaller unfolded sheets seem somehwat better than full sheets folded, although I’ve found both are adequate. I’ve also carried both in my small hiking bag that I used to carry everywhere. I kept it in the same spot for years. In a small pocket on the most accessible zipper-sealed part of the bag. It can be dropped in a purse or other bag with a similar effect.
The small sheet doesn’t require folding and unfolding, or at least as much. Recording on a smaller page is easy. Having one page and few others is a livable solution. I would transfer some data from a prior day into the later day, I recall, which meant for me, I would sometime carry a prior days form. With my bag, I recall having a collection of forms. One does have to have a place to put the forms later. Or they could be discarded. Fortunately I kept most of my forms to be able to archive, and scan and share here. But some forms were lost, without much care. These were loose forms I didn’t have a place to put immediately for archiving. I would stick them in my bag and a few would build up. There are a number of ways they can be easily aggregated, but this is not the place for a full conversation on archiving. For now I simply want to mention that I did carry more than one form at a time, sometimes. But for making sure that it is an easy task to record, and self-remind, the single page, and the quarter page, are very effective and don’t become uncomfortable. But you do have to think about what to do with forms already completed from prior days.
The size of the form impacts how much can be written and reminded. An obvious difference between the first and last forms was the level of detail I was interested in. That greater level of detail was very useful later, but initially to form a habit, and before what details were known to be wanting, the smaller form is preferable. Today after knowing what details I no longer care about, and what seems more vital for each category to remind about and record, I am more interested in a simpler form again. I could return to a quarter page. To keep things simple, and to develop off the last form, I have started again with a full page form with all printed on one side. When I was using the quarter page forms I would write on each side for one single day. I will be updating the version of the form I’m using here TextPDF. These forms are hilariously simple by comparison to my end result after all my years of doing the earlier form. I think it will be further reduced in size, but expanded on reminders about key factors and areas of interest. This is being redeveloped, and as I think about it, I’m kinda going through the same steps I started out going through, but with much more maturity as far as what I’ve internalized through training throughout the years. So the form is similar, but my mind and behavior are very different. This, I think, is meaningful in that the simple form really can be of lifelong utility, without a huge alteration in approach.
The simple single page form results in less of a feeling of spending too much time on the task, of writing and reading, and reminding. Later as I was recording much more information, I was doing much more reading and recording into the form. The longer form, even if it didn’t have an incredible amount written into it, may have taken more than an hour of time. This may seem shocking but it really is the case that not much can really be accomplished in an hours time with all the various categories on the longer form. But wanting my mind to be aware of each and every category, and not only writing about all categories, I wanted the larger form. I wanted better sophisitcation in certain areas and that really did benefit me, even if it appears, from looking at the forms, not much was written.
You can think about what your plans are with the form without writing anything in the form ever.
Doing such a thing though would lead one to wonder about social criticisms. You carry that form but you don’t write much? Many other sorts of criticisms may arise in the mind even without the existence of any conversation with others. I suggest ignoring any attempts at self-criticism on social grounds. Reminding oneself of something important for years until necessary growth steps occur is basic learning. Really some milestones will be due to the discipline, and certain steps might not occur for months or years. But when those steps really are taken, the results might last for one’s entire life, or for a very long period of time. Ideas occur which would not otherwise result. It’s very nice to have an idea that sticks and is useful, even if it wasn’t recorded at all.
If everything from the simple form, or the larger form were recorded into a digital system, it would be found that the data entry work to do it would be a job. Notice that I have not taken the time to extract all the data from the older forms to input them into spreadsheets or into a database system. As a software architect this is something I can surely do. I’ve even guided massive organizations on their “paperless transformation journeys” which had objectives of moving from paper forms to digital forms, and digital systems of storage. For myself, knowing about these technologies, and what is required, and what the end result is, I know that extracting the data is not particularly useful, apart from scanning.
Suppose one had a real scientific interest, and one is able to in advance plan data such that experimental design requirements of statistical significance are achieved. In that case, moving the data into a digital format for analysis, using programs or other, would be useful. But I didn’t do that! I can hardly expect anyone else could if I didn’t. However, if one is really good at such a thing, and such an interest exists, one could science one’s own life using real experimentation.
This work still is of scientific import, but does not have the rigor of such an approach mentioned above, such that it would be readily accepted into a peer reviewed journal, chunked into a group of studies. I knew this would not really be feasible for me along the way too, and being a moralist, have other ideas about how to obtain useful general information, which is amenable to science but is not as rigorous as what scientists themselves expect, having been exposed to work of earlier scientists. And of course, I am trained in the sciences, am myself a scientist in my own estimation. But I have not converted this or planned this to be a work of science as much as a work of personal morality, and a general purpose personal moral system would require conclusions of thousands of papers, and there is not enough time for that.
So I have opted to record and archive, to make observations about my prior experiences and what I’ve created, and use it for my future development, and retain it for sharing my life and autobiography, and my moral system.
It would be hard to extract this data. If put in a table I don’t think one would search the tables often. I think the reflections lead to “next steps” in life and not a search for meaning about what one has already done. The data entry work would be now, looking at all the forms I made, a real job. One that might take a person several months if not a year to complete. The system design would not anticipate the use requirements later.
What does all this mean for anyone inputting the information?
What I’m getting at is that a paper form like this is really still too complex, right now, for any software implementation too. I noted above, that there is no system that can mine your life and record the key pieces of information about you in a way that is useful to you, and more useful to you than this form. You’d have to have sensors on you, and multiple computing devices, from the same manufacturer, or manufacturers in cooperation, to merge the data into a single result. But you can simply function as a human being with a pen and paper and do it all yourself in a way that technoglogy still cannot do!
So in conclusion for now, what I wish to convey is that a simple single page personal form is really livable in its utility. It can provide a chance to retain autobiographical information. It is also better in terms of how information is aggregated than any single digital system in use today. And this is despite the existence of Apple Watches, Fitbits, Google Docs spreadsheets, and any Smartphone. These tools are sophisticated but come nowhere close to fulfilling what a simple paper form can fulfill.
I think this is a somewhat conclusive statement, at least for present day 2022, given my personal background in technology too, very advanced in my career.
[Written in 34 mintues without spell check and no edits. 2:45 pm]
I am a semi-retired social architect and consultant, with professional/academic experience in the fields of computer science, psychology, philosophy, and more recently, economics.
Articles on this site are eclectic, and draw from content prepared between 1980 and 2022. Topics include ethics, art, fitness, finances, health, psychology, and vegetarianism. The common theme connecting all articles is moral philosophy, even if that is not immediately apparent. Any of my articles that touch on "the good and virtuous life" will be published here. These articles interrelate with my upcoming theory of ethics, two decades in preparation.
I welcome and appreciate constructive feedback and conversation with readers. You can reach me at email@example.com (site related), firstname.lastname@example.org (academic related), or email@example.com (intelligence related), or via the other social media channels listed at the bottom of the site.