Category Archives: Personal

What I’m Giving Up This Year

I said a few days ago that the key to focusing is willing to give up and cut out some things in life. So, with that, here’s what I’m cutting out in 2012:

  • Personal: Reading non-Bible stuff. As I said, this year is the year of the Bible, reading-wise, for me. So I will do very little reading that isn’t related to scripture.
  • Personal: Miata & Autocrossing. I bought a 1994 miata a couple of years ago in hopes of tinkering on it and doing some autocross events with it. When I bought my road bicycle last year, I spent so much time on my bike that I didn’t have the time to work on the car. Instead of feeling guilty for not giving it the attention it deserves, I’m going to sell it.
  • Personal: Motorsports on TV. When I was in high school I considered being an engineer, for one reason only: to design and work on racecars. I thought that auto racing was the most exciting display of engineering and have never lost the awe of watching cars scream around a track. My DVR is usually filled with hours of racing from March-October. Giving this up will keep me from sitting in front of the TV so much.
  • Personal: College Basketball on TV. Last year, thanks to my parents, I crossed something off of my bucket list: going to the NCAA Final Four & Championship game. I watch quite a bit of college basketball in the winter months and during March Madness. Now that I’ve made the pilgrimage to the Final Four, I feel like I can cut back on that.
  • Ministry: Administration. When I requested that my hours be cut back at the church, it really didn’t leave time for me to do a significant amount of administration. Instead, I’m focusing on teaching and discipleship. The size of our church and ministry really doesn’t make it that big of a loss. Looking back, I’m not sure how effective it was to spend the time I did on administrative matters.
  • Professionally: Continuing Education. I’m not cutting this out entirely, but I am scaling back. Last fall I spent a ton of time learning about business, marketing, and web development and design practices. I feel like I needed to do that, because I learned a lot, but those things don’t pay the bills. With that foundation behind me, I’m going to scale back on the continuing education and focus on things that actually grow my business and pay the bills.

I’m content with giving these things up, because I know it will allow me to focus on other things that I already enjoy and that will be productive. And if a year from now I want to cut something else out in order to add in something above, then I’ll do it. This isn’t a permanent decision, but one that I think makes sense in my life right now.

Are you giving up anything in 2012 to focus on something that you think is important?

What I’m Focusing On This Year

Taking into account the questions I asked myself to help me focus this year, here’s what I want the next 12 months to be about:

  • Personal: Reading the Bible. I love to read and have lots of interests. My default reading genre is theology (but recently I dabbled in lots of business, marketing, and financial crisis reading), but this year I am going to narrow my reading down to scripture. Quite honestly, I didn’t take enough advantage of great Bible classes in college and I want to go broader in my exposure to scripture. So, this year I am using the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan to read through the Bible this year. I like it because you read one chapter from four different books of the Bible every day, so you don’t get bogged down in certain difficult books for months on end as you would reading it straight through. I will also limit most of my reading to Biblical-type material rather than theological and philosophical. Do you have any good biblical studies books to recommend?
  • Personal: Cycling. I took up cycling last year and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a great hobby because it allows me to spend time with my wife, meet new people, stay in shape, see the countryside, and tinker around with keeping my bike running in top form.
  • Personal: Baseball. My wife and I both enjoy watching baseball, and the recent success of the Rangers has made it even better. 2012 should be another good year for the Rangers, and we both look forward to taking in the season. Spring training will be here before you know it.
  • Personal: Writing. I haven’t written much in the past year, and I miss it. The blog has suffered for various and sundry reasons, so I will likely re-energize myself towards blogging.
  • Professional: Specialize & Systematize. Since starting my own business last October, I have taken on almost any and every project that has come my way. I’m seeing the need for specialization in order to better systematize and speed up my productivity. I have a few ideas for how to specialize and will be testing a few different areas out in 2012. Then hopefully I can pick one or two and really start to master them.
  • Ministry: Teaching. Teaching is something I enjoy (and people say I am good at it), so I’ve reworked my job to do almost nothing but teach. My ten hours a week are generally spent teaching or preparing to teach. In addition to my job, I am entering into a new venture as a presenter with a non-profit organization, Call Incorporated. I will be co-leading a two-day workshop next weekend; depending on how that goes, it may blossom into something more.
  • Ministry: Discipleship. However, I know teaching isn’t the end-all of discipleship, and I want to form some more relational discipleship structures in 2012. I want to intentionally be discipled and to disciple others.
  • Ministry: Mission. The church exists for the sake of those outside of the church, but quite honestly, I haven’t participated in much mission over the last few years. I want to get in a better regular rhythm of mission in 2012.

What are you going to focus on in 2012?

Tomorrow I’ll post the things I am giving up to make room for the things I think are most important.

How to Focus

I ran through a list of questions in my mind to help me decide on what to focus in 2012:

  • Is it pleasurable? Things you spend time on should, if possible, be pleasurable. Yes, there are certain tasks and responsibilities that you can’t get away from, but I bet you would be surprised how flexible some of them can be (I like the book Go, Put Your Strengths to Work for this). And, if they aren’t pleasurable, maybe you can systematize them in such a way as to minimize the time you spend on them.
  • It is productive? Some things are simply frivolous. Certain things that I read or watch on TV ultimately have no value, so there’s no real reason to continue such things (don’t forget, my first question is about pleasure, so it’s not like I’m advocating asceticism here). “Productive” has different meanings in different areas of life, for example:
    • Personal: Does in bring your closer to other people? Does it help you to order your life? Does it build you up?
    • Ministry: Does it help in discipling others?
    • Professional: Does it enhance a critical skill? Is it billable time? Does it expand your business?
  • Does it use your strongest gifts? I’m a big fan of maximizing your strengths, because the research is so compelling. You are more productive trying to build up your strengths than your weaknesses. The best tool I have found for defining your strengths is the StrengthsFinder 2.0.
  • Does it help you accomplish a goal for your life? I’m twenty-eight, and while that is by no means old, I’m closer to thirty than twenty (and closer to forty than fifteen!). I really don’t want to wake up at fifty and ask “what have I done with my life?” There are things I would like to do, and unless I am moving towards them day-by-day, they will never be achieved.

If yes, then:

  • Is it addictive? Things that are potentially addictive are dangerous, so I try to stay away from them.
  • Is it expensive? All things being equal, I’m going to choose things that are less expensive.

If no, then:

  • Is it something I can do with my wife? When it comes down do it, I have lots of interests, and so does my wife. Some of them overlap. When possible, I want to maximize the time I spend with her doing things we both enjoy.

Are there other questions you use to help you focus?

Tomorrow, I’ll reveal what asking these questions has shown me and on what I am focusing my energy in 2012.

Focus in 2012

A new year is upon us and so I am inclined, like most, to reflect a little bit on the past and make some adjustments moving forward into the future. First, some observations about the past.

Time Creep

My makeup naturally makes me want to learn about anything and everything. I buy lots of books, read a slew of blog posts, website and magazine articles, and am constantly trying to learn more about topics that I find interesting.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed a similar trend with my hobbies as well. I will latch onto something new and add it into my life. About three years ago my wife and I discovered we both really enjoyed baseball and started watching and attending Rangers games regularly. A couple of years ago I bought a 1994 Mazda Miata for a few thousand dollars to tinker on and enjoy driving. Last year I took up cycling. This is in addition to longstanding hobbies of mine: watching college basketball and motorsports on TV, reading good theology books, and cooking.

Professionally, my life shows the same trend. When I decided to reduce my hours at the church to 10 hours a week and start my own business, I had a blank slate before me. While I knew that, generally, I wanted to help people use the web to market their businesses and organizations, I had no particular focus, yet. I have had about fifty different ideas in the last few months about how to focus my business and specialize in a particular area, but I haven’t committed to any one of them. I’m building websites from scratch for some clients, search engine optimization for others, email marketing for another, website redesign and optimization for others, all while being open to whatever comes my way.

Given that my days still only have 24 hours in them, I have noticed over the last few years that as I have added things into my life, I have not taken many things away. I’m not overwhelmed, exactly, but I do feel like I am lacking focus in many areas. I’m flopping around a bit, and I don’t much like it.

So, some adjustments in 2012 are in order.

Focus

I want 2012 to be a year when I focus. The key to succeeding is not in choosing what to focus upon, but in deciding what to cut away.

Tomorrow, I’ll post about how I decided on what to focus on and what to cut away.

In the meantime, how do you decide what to devote yourself to? How do you decide what to cut out?

I’m Now a Part-Time Youth Minister

I’ve maintained blog silence for a little while because I knew a change in my job was imminent, but I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Effective October 1, my status as an employee at my church was reduced from full-time to 10 hours a week, at my request.

Now that I’ve gained a little distance from the decision and had some time to adjust and reflect on it, I decided it was time to make that public. I still have thoughts about youth ministry, and I still want to be a part of the conversation about the future of youth ministry. My decision has nothing to do with my commitment to youth ministry, but it does have to do with my convictions regarding the future of the church. More on that later.

In the meantime, I’ve started my own business as a freelance small business website developer and designer. I have a handful of clients so far for whom I’m building websites and helping with their Facebook presence and their email marketing. We’ll see where that goes, but in the short-term it has kept me busy.

So that’s where I’m at. More later on the reasons behind the decision and what I think it means moving forward.

A 4th of July Sermon: The Freedom of a Christian

Galatians 6:1-16 & Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
July 4, 2010
Hope Lutheran Church
Matt Cleaver

In case you haven’t noticed, today is the 4th of July. It is the day when our nation celebrates its birth and when we appreciate the qualities that have made the United States of America the unique country that it is today. Besides fireworks, lakes, and cookouts, when most people think of the fourth of July, the one thing that likely comes to mind is freedom. Freedom is perhaps the central, founding principle of our nation. Freedom is what Independence Day is all about. Freedom continues to be at the heart of what it means to be an American. To be an American is to be a free person. Quite simply, to be in America is to know a lot about freedom. We are surrounded by it, live in it, hear about it, and appreciate it. We have holidays like the 4th of July to celebrate it. But freedom is a word that also should strike at us for a different reason. We are Christians, and freedom is also something that is central to our faith. In fact, Martin Luther once wrote a treatise called “On the Freedom of a Christian.” In this treatise, he says this:

A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant, subject to all.

He spends the rest of the treatise defending these two seemingly contradictory statements. Basically what he says, and this is very basic, is that Jesus Christ frees us from the slavery of good works. We are not justified by works, but we are justified only by faith in Jesus Christ. Because of that, we are completely free people, not under any sort of law that we must keep in order to earn salvation. Luther says that we are freed from the belief in good works, justification through works. And in this way we are freed from the law. But we are not set free from doing good works. No, Luther says that good works are imperative for the Christian. We must do good works because we are still people who live in this world of flesh and bones. He compares it to food. Perhaps some of you are getting hungry already. Does anyone think that we can exist without food and drink? Absolutely not! But do food and drink justify us before God! Absolutely not! The same is the case with good works. We do not need them for justification, but we shouldn’t dismiss them, either, just like we would not dismiss eating this afternoon on account of the fact that we are already saved by grace alone through faith. If you will go home and eat, then you should also commit yourselves to doing good works. So, a Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none, and a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant, subject to all.

I think that this sort of paradox is a good thing to keep in mind as we are considering our scripture texts from today on this 4th of July when freedom is at the forefront of our minds. Just because we have been granted certain freedoms does not mean that for us as Christians, that we should exercise them at all times. In our gospel lesson for today Jesus is sending out the disciples two by two to proclaim a message: “The Kingdom of God is near!” We have joint citizenship. We are citizens of the United States of America, but we are also citizens of the City of God. But we are most importantly citizens of the City of God.

As Americans, the ultimate document of freedom for us could likely be considered the Bill of Rights. It outlines what freedoms we have which cannot be revoked. I want to look at some freedoms that are granted to us as citizens of America and compare that with our scripture lessons today.

The 5th amendment says, “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In this amendment we are guaranteed the right to keep our own property. All of the things that we have worked hard for are ours. No one else has a right to them. The luxuries that have been afforded by our own hard work cannot be taken from us at a whim. No, in America we are free to keep things for ourselves. We are free to take care of ourselves.

To this, hear these words of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke: “3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.” Jesus tells the seventy-two to lay down all of the things that they have earned for themselves. All of the things that would be helpful for traveling: things like money and a change of clothes, Jesus says to put those things away. For the disciples, they have a different kind of freedom: freedom from property.

The First Amendment guarantees Americans more freedoms, one of them is the freedom of speech. Part of it states: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” This is the law that allows us to hold opinions and express them without interference. If we want to speak against our government, we are promised the freedom to do so. Of course, it also protects our right to say things that are vile and indecent. It is this freedom which allows pornography to run rampant on the internet.

Does the Christian have freedom of speech? The apostle Paul says this in our lesson from Galatians today in verse 14: “14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” For the apostle Paul, there are restrictions posed on Christian speech. We are to boast not of ourselves, our accomplishments, our children, even our church, but we are only to boast in the cross of Jesus Christ. When you think about it, what else is there to talk about? What else is there to boast about? The law of Christ frees us from shallow, empty speech in order that we may speak of things that matter, in order that we can speak of the cross.

The last freedom I want to look at is the freedom of religion, again in the first amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Again we turn to the apostle Paul in Galatians to see what he has to say about our ability to exercise religion freely. In verse two he says: “2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Put simply, Paul says that we are not free to practice our religion however we want. He says that there is a very specific way to practice our faith: to bear one another’s burdens. Paul says that this fulfills the highest law in the land, law that is higher than even the Constitution of the United States: the law of Christ. And what is the law of Christ? In a word: love. We can find no deeper, no more robust practice of love than when we bear the burdens of one another. The law of Christ frees us from selfishness in order that we may experience the joy that can only be found in deep, meaningful relationships, relationships that are not afraid to share burdens with one another.

Many of you know that a member of our church, Gerry Seefeldt, passed away Friday morning. Pastor Joel would normally attend to the family during this time, but obviously he was out of town. Pastor Ryan Mills from Our Redeemer in Grand Prairie told Joel that he would provide pastoral care should it be needed while he was away. Thursday morning I got the call that Gerry was getting very ill and there wouldn’t be much time left. The family requested a pastor to come pray with Gerry and the family in those last hours. So, I called Pastor Ryan. I could have simply told him about the situation and let him handle it. I’m quite untrained in what to do in these situations. I haven’t had much experience with death, and I didn’t think I would be much help. But for some reason I thought that I should go, so I offered to accompany him. I’m glad I went. I saw what it means to bear one another’s burdens while I was with Gerry’s family. Ryan and I went and saw Gerry and Pastor Ryan led us in prayer and scripture reading. We closed with the Lord’s Prayer. One of Gerry’s daughter said that when we were praying the Lord’s Prayer with her that Gerry prayed with us as loud and as clear as she had said anything in the last few days. And then the next morning, Friday, I got the phone call that Gerry had passed away. So for the second time in as many days, Pastor Ryan and I both dropped what we were doing to attend to Gerry and her family. We entered the home, spoke with the family, and prayed again over Gerry’s body and helped the family to say goodbye to their mother. It was a holy moment.

Were Pastor Ryan and I free to do whatever we wanted with our life and with our time on Thursday and Friday? Absolutely not. We were bound by the law of Christ to bear the emotional burden of this death in Gerry’s family. But Pastor Ryan and I would not have it any other way. Were we free to do whatever we wanted? No. But we were free to love this family in their time of grief. It is because of the bond of Christ that we were free to go into a home filled with people whom we had never met and share those moments with them.

The freedom of Christ is like that. It closes some doors in order that we may experience true freedom. My time was not my own this past weekend in order that I could be free to fulfill the law of Christ. We are not free to say anything that we want to say, but we are bound only to boast in the cross of Jesus Christ, because when you get right down to it, anything else is not speech, but just shadows of reality, just wasted breath. We are freed by Jesus Christ to true speech. And the freedom of Jesus Christ frees us from our possessions. So often our possessions own us. The law of Christ helps us lay everything down, to take no purse or bag or sandals with us, but to experience true freedom from the things that occupy so much of our time and energy.

Just as Jesus was very God and had all the rights and privileges of God, he laid them down for our sake (Phil 2). So we too have been afforded many great rights as citizens in the kingdom of America. But there are times when we must lay down our rights and lay down our freedoms, in order that we may be truly free.  We serve the king of kings, the president of presidents. And when we are truly free we can say with the Psalmist and all peoples of the earth today:

Psalm 66:

1 Be joyful in God, all you lands;

sing the glory of his name; sing the glory of his praise.

2 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

Because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.

3 All the earth bows down before you,

sings to you, sings out your name.”

4 Come now and see the works of God,

how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

5 He turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot,

and there we rejoiced in him.

6 In his might he rules forever; his eyes keep watch over the nations;

let no rebel rise up against him.

7 Bless our God, you peoples;

make the voice of his praise to be heard,

8 who holds our souls in life,

and will not allow our feet to slip.

5 Year Blogging Anniversary

Yup, today is it. It’s hard to believe that I have been blogging for five years (although with varied degrees of commitment). For those who think that they will start blogging in order to become famous, I say: Ha! Blogging is a lesson in perseverance, my friend.

For those who are wondering how this thing has progressed over time, here’s the breakdown:

  • 2004 – I started reading various blogs. I think the first blog I ever read was Tony Jones’ original blogspot blog, whose book I was reading for a youth ministry class. That I could read the original, timely thoughts of a real-life author was pretty cool to me. I was enamored with the blogging style: anyone anywhere could publish any thoughts to anyone in the world with no filter or hoops to jump through. I had to try this.
  • October 14, 2004 – In my townhouse at John Brown University one evening, I started a blogspot account and began posting. Looking back, my posts were totally random and sporadic. I only made 47 posts between October 2004 and September 2006.
  • September 19, 2006 – I migrated from blogspot to wordpress.org since WordPress had some widget features that blogspot hadn’t developed quite yet. I was much more disciplined and posted around 100 posts while on that site, including many of my personal favorites. That was when I wrote my Neo-Youth Ministry Series.
  • November 28, 2007 – I switch from wordpress.org to a self-hosted wordpress website, MattCleaver.com, allowing me to do anything I want with this website. This is when I got really “serious” about blogging. I have made around 240 posts on MattCleaver.com. Not only that, but I have learned tons about wordpress and web publishing, and have even made a little (emphasis on “little”) money helping other people set up and tweak their own websites. I’m not an expert on WordPress, but I have learned quite a bit over the last two years.

When I started blogging, I had all these visions of grandeur that people would come and read my thoughts and be mesmerized by my theological insights. Well, I learned that sometimes the stuff that people want to read isn’t always what you think is the most important. Check out the top-10 posts of all time (since I started tracking with Google Analytics in November 2007):

  1. How I Built a Church Website for Free: Picking a WordPress Theme
  2. The Ultimate Ubiquitous Capture Device?
  3. How I Built a Church Website for Free: Introduction
  4. How I Built a Church Website for Free: WordPress Plugins
  5. 13 Reasons Why (Traditional) Seminaries are Irrelevant (For Church Leaders): Part 1
  6. Locution, Illocution, Perlocution, and Developmental Psychology: Age-Appropriate Cultural Texts
  7. 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly: Thoughts from One in the Minority
  8. Brian McLaren is a Heretic
  9. Review: Francis Chan’s Crazy Love DVD
  10. Podcast Episode 0: Church Marketing

Over the years, I’ve learned that the posts people read the most are the ones that rank well in search engines in a particular niche (hence I have 3 of my top 10 posts having to do with building a free church website with WordPress), that get linked to from bigger websites (Ubiquitous Capture Device and Podcast Episode 0 got linked to from much more popular sites), or are posts that are written to strike while the iron is hot (ELCA Churchwide Assembly). The posts that I think are most important often don’t make huge spikes in traffic.

And therein lies the frustration for many who blog. I have seen quite a few youth ministry bloggers come and go in my five years, and I have thought about quitting every now and then. Fortunately, ever since the beginning I have told myself “This blog is for me as much as anyone else.” I enjoy writing and haven’t taken the time to get really serious about publishing my thoughts in traditional forms of media, and blogging allows me to keep writing on a fairly regular basis.

To those who have stuck around for a few years and keep coming back, thank you. Your comments have (hopefully) made me a better writer, minister, and theologian. I hope to continue fruitful conversation here for the foreseeable future.

And for those who don’t keep coming back, please subscribe to my RSS Feed. ;)

My Wife is Going to Kenya

As some of you already know, my wife Alicia is currently a fourth year medical student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she is studying to become an Emergency physician. One of her goals for her medical career is to do regular international medical mission trips to various countries around the world. Her first chance will come in November as she goes to Kenya for a short-term trip to work at a medical clinic there.

She is going through the SHARE Kenya program, an annual trip arranged by the Ohio College of Osteopathic Medicine. Here’s a bit about the program from the website:

SHARE Kenya is 3-week clinical program in which students, faculty and clinicians deliver healthcare in rural Western Kenya. In 2006, participants shared in the celebration of a new free-standing clinic in Masara. The clinic was the culmination of a promise SHARE Kenya founder B.S. Bonyo, D.O. (’98), made as a child to help underserved Kenyans through medical care.

As you can expect, Alicia is beyond excited for this opportunity. This trip provides her with exposure to a great international medical program that will serve as a capstone and highlight to her medical education. And it will hopefully set in motion a career full of international medical service for her and the other students participating in the program.

If you would like to support her she needs medical supplies, financial support, and prayer. She is trying to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of the program, and I’ve put her ChipIn widget in the sidebar of my blog to track her progress. For more information and to keep up with her progress you can go to http://aliciainkenya.org.

I should probably take this time to say that I’m super proud of her! It’s hard to believe that in less than 8 months Alicia will be Dr. Cleaver. It’s been a long, hard journey, but great opportunities like this make all the effort worth it. I hope you will support her in any way you can.

A New Job

Yesterday was my first day at my new job. Okay, that might be a little bit of a stretch.

Yesterday my job at Hope Lutheran Church changed from Youth Director to Director of Youth and Ministry Development. Our Associate Pastor of Ministry Development, Wendy Berthelsen, decided that she wanted to devote her time to the development of her non-profit teaching ministry Call, Inc. Instead of hiring a replacement for her, the church has chosen to shift my responsibilities around to cover both youth and ministry development. We have hired a full-time youth ministry intern to take over many of the tasks related to youth ministry.

At our church “Ministry Development” is sort of a catch-all phrase. It includes:

  • Christian education for adults and children
  • Oversight of adult small group ministry
  • Training people in spiritual gifts and helping to discern God’s call on their life
  • Molding the ministry and practices of our church around the unique gifts, talents, and passions of our church
  • Overseeing church communication and administration
  • Launching new ministry initiatives
  • Training and supporting people in existing ministries
  • And probably more

So, all of the above responsibilities come in addition to my role as the lead staff person for youth ministry, and I’m excited about the possibilities. I actually think that my new role will force me to utilize my strengths to an even greater extent than before. From my assessment in Strengths-Based Leadership I learned that my leadership style falls under the category of “Strategic Thinking” (and not executing, relationship building, or influencing).

While I love youth ministry, being involved with such a narrow ministry so intimately meant that I did not spend a high percentage of my time utilizing my strategic thinking strengths. Much of my time was spent preparing for events, cleaning up for events, administrating the ministry, and spending time with youth. All of these things are good and necessary, but they perhaps underutilized my strengths. By widening my responsibilities so broadly, I will be forced to stay on a very strategic level while equipping others to carry out many of the practical ministry tasks for the simple reason that there is not enough time for me to focus my energy on much else.

And as one who has a keen interest in ecclesiology, having a wider responsibility will allow me to dabble in this ecclesial lab over the coming months.

I would appreciate your prayers as I transition into this new role at our church.

The Ultimate Ubiquitous Capture Device?

In case you didn’t know, I’m a subscriber (though not necessarily a hardcore enthusiastic legalist) to David Allen’s personal productivity system for Getting Things Done (for an introduction to this system, go here). Over the past couple of years, I’ve played with different ways to implement the system, from an all-paper system to a hybrid electronic/digital system, to where I am now which is almost 100% digital.

However, there are times when you just have to capture an idea on-the-spot, and the most convenient way to do it at that particular time is by writing it down. To do this, you are supposed to use your “Ubiquitous Capture Device,” something you always have with you so you can never miss recording a thought. I’ve tried different ways of doing this, from carrying around note cards to scrap paper to moleskin notebooks. None of my solutions thus far has been satisfactory.

Recently, I came across the new Moleskine Volant (Extra Small) notebook and think this might be the ultimate solution. They are extremely thin and only two and a half by four inches, which means they will slip unnoticeably right into your back pocket. And they also have perforated pages, which is perfect for those times you need a loose sheet of paper. Learn more from the company website.

You can get two of these notebooks for $6, making them a bit pricey, but they might be worth it if they are fun to use. And, hopefully, they will stand up well to wear and tear. I’m going to see how I like using them over the next few weeks. Anyone else have a great solution for a ubiquitous capture device?