I am carving out space. My life is incredibly full right now in mostly wonderful ways, but I still feel there is not quite enough space for me to breathe sometimes. This may be what I was getting at when I wrote about The Bartlebys last week — that feeling where I would prefer not to do much of anything when I walk in the door at the end of the day. I feel like the time I might spend doing any one of a number of things for myself is being wasted, frittered away on the couch as I recover from my day and stubbornly insist on doing nothing.
In an effort to stamp out this case of The Bartlebys, I am trying a two-front attack. First, I am trying to do something different with the first hour after I get home from work. Instead of sinking onto the couch to snack and/or nap (let’s face it; it’s usually “and,” not “or”), I am trying to take some time to do something active, like my physical therapy exercises, walking the dog, or going for a run. It’s simple how much better this always makes me feel. Today, instead of a morning run, I slept an extra hour and ran after work, during the time I usually fall half comatose and stare at the wall. The schedule switch seemed to work well in terms of my energy and it was absolutely gorgeous to be out, crunching through the leaves. Could I be changing over to evening running? SHOCKING! And just in time for Daylight Saving Time to end, of course, so I may be in the market for a reflective vest if I want to continue evening runs when the sun starts going down at 4:30. (HOLD ME.)
The second attack front is on social media. I spend far too much time checking and rechecking Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Instagram, Tumblr, and even Pinterest. Then, once I’ve determined that there’s no new content on any of those platforms, I still cannot be stopped. I will find some way to click mindlessly around the internet, no matter how useless it may be. I’m not sure how to break completely out of this pattern, but I am starting by just cutting down on all the people and blogs I follow. I’ve cleaned up my Twitter and Google Reader lists, trying to unsubscribe from all the content I’ve been scrolling past or “marking as read” without actually reading. At this point, I’m simply making changes that reflect what I was already reading or not reading, but it should make the process of getting through several hours of unread posts much more efficient. I also need to clean out all of the feeds I follow but don’t really interact with or learn from, the businesses and fan pages I “liked” on Facebook just to be nice but that I don’t actually care about, and the people I am only following so I can darkly mutter about the ways they’ve just offended me in their most recent posts. (Please tell me you do this, too.) (And if you are reading this post, there’s essentially no way I’m talking about you, I promise.) It’s an ongoing process, but I hope it will help. Next, I need to think about limiting either the amount of time or the times per day I am online mindlessly refreshing or clicking.
I’d like to open up some space in my life for a few things I’ve been missing and longing for: leisure reading, academic writing, creative writing, blogging, photography. I don’t want to bounce from work to nap to social life to sleep to exercise to work again without doing some of my own things — the creative solo things that make me who I am outside of work and relationships. My work and my relationships (both romance and friendships) are incredibly important to me and sit high on my priorities list, but browsing women’s fashion on Pinterest? Following other people’s workouts on Dailymile? Interacting in any way with anyone who qualifies as a frenemy, trainwreck, spectacle, or other source of Schadenfreude? No, not so much. So if I’m looking to carve out more personal time, it’s the random internet hours that will have to go. Maybe by cutting out some of this nonsense, I can actually make better use of the (hopefully smaller amount of ) time I do spend online. It’ll take some thought and effort, but there’s no way it won’t be worth it.