Book Review: Greater Expectations: Succeed (and Stay Sane) in an On-Demand, All-Access, Always-On Age – Claire Diaz-Ortiz

framesIn Greater Expectations: Succeed (and Stay Sane) in an On-Demand, All-Access, Always-On Age , Claire Diaz-Ortiz discusses a particular problem and one that constantly tempts me. Diaz-Ortiz laments the time and soul sucking nature of constant information and social media. She honestly admits that her responsible and vocational intentions often fly out the window due to the appeal of one more tweet to read or one more video to watch or one more comment to write. She wisely realized that if she didn’t develop a plan to intentionally bring prayer, personal enrichment, exercise and planning to her day, the technology tidal wave would take over and she would be at its mercy. So she developed the PRESENT method, which stands for Prayer – Read – Express – Schedule – Exercise – Nurture – Track.

Being a person who loves a plan to follow, I dove into the PRESENT tasks with gusto. Here are some of my observations:

– The express component has already paid dividends. This is where you write in a journal or send an encouraging note

– Diaz-Ortiz is clearly working out of a work from home, freelancer environment that may not apply to many people’s working existence

– Scheduling before I even step foot into work has given me direction and focus

– Diaz-Ortiz seems to want to emphasize doing these things before turning on any electronic device. So obviously, the preferred time would be in the morning. If you were to take her suggested allotment for each section it would take you around 85 minutes to complete. Who has that kind of time during the morning routine?

– Here is how I organized my PRESENT plan :

    – Prayer – 10 minutes (usually over a cup of tea)

– Read – 15 minutes (I have been reading books on the Spiritual Life. I don’t read the Bible  because I usually listen to scripture while I run.)

– Express – 10 minutes (I have written notes to family members, worked on these reviews, or gone through spiritual exercises in one of the books I am reading)

– Schedule – 15 minutes (I use Donald Miller’s Productivity Plan to map out my day)

– Exercise – 20-30 minutes (I run or lift weights or both)

– Nurture – 20 minutes (During my lunch break, I will read a non-fiction book or magazine)

– Track (I haven’t been doing this much as it is simply a review on how your PRESENT plan is going)

As I consider what needs to be part of my devotional life – prayer, reflection, study, and silence – this plan helps make this possible. Again, all of this is designed to be done with our devices turned off. It has been enriching to me, though challenging, to focus on truly meaningful things as my day begins instead of gorging myself on the latest news, sports, and social media firestorms. Diaz-Ortiz maps out a solid path to take back our own personal growth. Though plans are often too involved to truly be followed, any intentional person could take some of Diaz-Ortiz’ ideas and bring benefit to their personal and spiritual life.

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