How I Monk #13 - Dave's Story

How I Monk #13 - Dave's Story

This is the thirteenth in our series of emails called “How I Monk.” In this series we will be highlighting + celebrating members of the Monk Manual community as they’ve meaningfully applied our tools and resources to find peaceful being and purposeful doing in their everyday lives. If you’d like to be featured in a future “How I Monk,” share your information with us here… #HowIMonk

 
Name: Dave Johnson

Occupation: YouTube Creator

Website/Social: youtube.com/BeastMadeReviews

A bit about who you are and and how you spend your days:

I think many people would call me an “influencer”, but I consider myself a video creator on YouTube. I actually have a full review of the Monk Manual on my channel. I do everything on my channel by myself (sometimes a bad thing), and so I’ve learned a lot about many different fields. My day usually starts with taking my kids to school, getting some coffee, writing in my Monk Manual at the beginning of the week, and preparing different phases of video production. Ideation, emails, writing scripts/reviews, shooting b-roll, shooting a-roll, editing, and finishing everything up on YouTube. I’ve also written for several published magazines and online publications as well. I also have a family–a wife and two kids. And we are all very involved in our local church.


What originally drew you to the Monk Manual?

I think it was actually the name that caught my attention. Years ago my wife and I went to Meteora in Greece and visited some of the beautiful monasteries atop these incredible giant rocks. Seeing them was awe-inspiring. And though it was mostly tourists there, we could occasionally see the monks living their daily lives. It’s such a foreign concept and felt like visiting an alien world. When I saw the name “Monk Manual”, I remembered my time there, and looked into this a little deeper. I’m not a naturally structured person in general, so over the years I’ve had to learn how to use a planner that best works with my personality. The Monk Manual seemed like something I would like, and once I started using it, I was hooked...


Practical Monk Manual Tip:

Make it fun! I am really fond of writing with fountain pens, and thankfully the Monk Manual has great paper that makes it enjoyable to use with fountain pen ink. So my pages are filled with a spectrum of different colored inks. I will even write in the margin of the notebook what pen and ink combination I’m using. I doubt it will be of any future help, but it’s fun to do.


When you were first getting started, what part of the Monk Manual did you struggle with most?

Initially, it was the discipline of just sitting down for a second to write and plan, and then do that consistently (yuck). But I told myself that if I did this it would improve the quality of my work, and that was true. But funny enough, when I sat down to write in the Monk Manual, many days what was hard for me was answering the question, “What are you looking forward to?” To me, this was an unintentionally hard question, because it made me think a few steps ahead. Instead of thinking about the precise next thing I had to do, I had to look beyond that and see what joy or satisfaction lay ahead.

Do you have a favorite prompt or section?

There are a few, but one that has always stuck out to me is “Meaningful Moments”. This was a really important prompt for me. I loved going back and writing something meaningful that happened that day or that week. For me, work-related stuff almost never made it in the answer box. It was mostly things like seeing my kids win awards, being at a momentous church event, connecting with a friend, or doing something fun/hard/different. Sometimes life moves too fast for us to stop and think about things that really impacted us. So I really enjoyed this part a lot.


How has your life changed since using the Monk Manual?

I think what really has changed is how much I spend time thinking about things that matter more than just busy work. Putting your thoughts and feelings on paper is a powerful way of codifying your inward thoughts into something you can physically see. Seeing on paper what I feel about my family or friends, things I need to accomplish this week, disciplines I am trying to master, or any other personal thoughts or feelings, really takes it out of the back of my mind. In many ways, it’s helped me prioritize what really matters–family, faith, lifelong dreams. And as a side benefit, it’s helped my creative work become a lot better.

What suggestions would you give to new Monk Manual users?

I once heard an interview with author Neil Gaiman. When the interviewer asked Gaiman what his process for writing is, Gaiman said that he goes to his writing spot and tells himself, “You can write or you can do nothing, but you can’t do anything else.” I think this is a great starting point for approaching the Monk Manual. Don’t look at emails, don’t look at/or answer your phone. You can sit down and write in the Monk Manual, or you can do nothing, but you can’t do anything else. Also, feel free to change or alter the plan. I found that it was harder for me to be consistent with the Monk Manual daily pages, but I loved the monthly and weekly pages. And that’s okay! I won’t fail a test or anything. Then after I filled up the weekly pages, I turned the daily pages into ad hoc weekly pages to get more longevity from my Monk Manual. Surprisingly, there is still no Monk Manual interrogators knocking angrily at my door. I am ecstatic about the new Weekly planner! I think you should try to stay consistent with it, but if you aren’t, then pick up where you left off. Just keep going.

     

    If you’d like to be featured in a future “How I Monk,” share your information with us here.

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