Frames: Greater Expectations

Frames are short, easily-digestible books created by the Barna Group that help identify and inform the reader about the complex, cultural issues today. Written in 100-pages or less, these quick reads are full of statistics, practical application, and real stories about navigating issues Christians face in day-to-day life. Their goal is for you to read less and know more. There are ten books available in season one. Click here to find out more about the Frames series.

The first Frame, Greater Expectations, in the Barna Group is written by Claire Diaz-Ortiz. She tackles the double-edged sword of technology in today’s world. Everyone says technology has made their lives easier and more connected, but, while some statistics show this is true, many more have said the exact opposite. The grip that technology has on our world is draining our life and rhythm causing us more stress rather than relieving it.

Diaz-Ortiz suggests three important, practical ways for us to reclaim our life from technology. The first is creating a morning routine. She argues that if we focus on the most important things first, we will not only build momentum but achieve a feeling of accomplishment every day. Her suggestion is to live by the P.R.E.S.E.N.T. principle:

P – Pray
Start off the day by handing everything over to God first. This puts our head and our heart in the right place before our feet ever hit the ground running.

R – Read
Read (study) something that is actively stretching your mind mentally and/or spiritually. This can be serious study of Scripture, Bible Study workbook, or mentally stimulating non-fiction.

E – Express
Express the actual emotions and feelings of your heart and mind. This means writing down the unfiltered, true thoughts and expressions—something scary and hard, but vitally important.

S – Schedule
Scheduling out all the most important parts of our day on paper frees up valuable thinking space so we do not have to “remember” while also laying a roadmap for the day ahead.

E – Exercise
Exercise is perceived as a dirty word and carries negative connotations for many. Therefore, think of this as “move” All you have to do is get started moving and you’ll be surprised how much you can do.

N – Nourish
Nourish not necessarily about what you eat; it’s about what fuels your soul. It’s about doing things that you enjoy and that bring life to your life.

T – Track
Tracking is not so much about making sure every box is checked off your To-Do list; it’s taking an inventory of what you’ve accomplished, analyzing what worked and what didn’t, and course-correcting for next time.

Her second suggestion centers around planning and productivity with a tactic called “Scan-and-Plan” It fits nicely in to the “Schedule” portion of the P.R.E.S.E.N.T. principle. Diaz-Ortiz encourages us to write down everything we can remember or think about that will happen during our day and put it on a list. Then scan the list, pick out the most important three or four things, and focus on getting them done today. Do not try and conquer your whole list because that only leads to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. “Scanning-and-Planning” makes sure the priorities to get done while allowing room for the unexpected. The tactic is not so much about a rigid set of task items. Rather, the purpose is prioritize the important, allow for more thinking space, and embrace the unexpected.

Her last, and probably most radical, suggestion is a sabbath from digital media. While we have all heard of people “leaving Facebook” for an extended period of time (or maybe all together), Diaz-Ortiz suggest rather than an absence for a time, it should be built into our weekly rhythm. Disconnecting from technology (computers, phones, tablets, etc.) will remind us that we are not controlled by our technology, rather they are our tools. Yes, not everyone has the luxury of taking a full day off from digital technology, but the point is to be intentional with our time and make time to fully unplug and get away from our busyness and screens in order to refresh and learn to live life again.

As a millennial who was raised by technology, this was a very helpful read. Claire Diaz-Ortiz puts forth very practical solutions to reign in the technological stress and put in place good practices to bring a freshness back into life. For anyone—and I would argue it’s actually everyone—who struggles with technology overwhelming their daily life, Claire Diaz-Ortiz offers ways to live a balanced life full of greater expectations.

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