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.
Okay, so you know what a slut I am for social media, and let me tell you a couple easy-peasy, honestly petty-sounding, things I’ve done recently to curb random, unnecessary, too-often checking: 1) As you know, I temporarily deactivated my FB account recently. To reactivate, all you have to do is sign in again. So hard, right? Except, I stayed off for nearly 48 hours. It wasn’t a hardship, and I hadn’t given myself a period of time to stay off or anything. It was just knowing I’d have to take a very specific action that kept me away. And it was lovely. I didn’t worry about it. I knew no one could see my stuff, so I wasn’t worried about “Did somebody like my instagram picture?!?” (also bc I couldn’t post instagram to FB at that time.) But anyway, it was peaceful. All your content stays there & pops right back up when you reactivate, so…maybe something to consider. Except of course, unless you’d be bugged by missing what anyone had to say about your posts, etc., or possibly missing posts of others.
Also, and this is the dumb-duh one, maybe, I moved my FB & Twitter badges from the front page of my iPhone. Just that has helped me immensely. When they’re right there in front, I’ll click on them absently ALL THE TIME. When I’d moved them to the very farthest page, & didn’t see them constantly, I could remind myself not to check them incessantly. Just an idea.
Anyways, I hear you. I spend entirely too much time online. You always know where to find me, though, regardless of all those apps 🙂
Good ideas! I am thinking of trying something like taking the less important sites (FB, Tumblr, Pinterest, Dailymile) and removing the bookmarks and disabling the automatic log-in — then I can limit it to, say, one check-in per day. I’ve already deleted the Pinterest app from my phone so I can’t lie in bed looking at pictures of boots all night.
Hee hee! Your line about lying in bed looking at pictures of boots made me laugh. It’s so true–boots have that power over us.
I meant to comment on your post earlier, but I just want to say: I hear ya. It’s so hard to moderate the time we spend on-line, but the effort is well worth it. I second what Chrissy says below–time spend outside is, in my opinion, THE best way to get off the computer and get some fresh air.
Another thing that helps? Podcasts. I love the new content that the internet provides, but I don’t have time to absorb it all by reading. Podcasts are great because I can listen to them while cooking, cleaning, getting dressed, analyzing data, etc. I get my entertainment fix while being productive. Win win!
Podcasts sound like either a genius idea or the beginning of a new addiction. Hmmm… One thing I have been doing is listening to NPR in the car more often, to get some news then (so I don’t necessarily have to read it online).
Also agreed about going outside. A walk around the neighborhood with the dog will snap me out of an afternoon funk pretty efficiently.
I have been trying to do something similar for a while. I stopped using Dailymile, Goodreads (I can just review books on my blog), and foursquare. I unsubscribed from a bunch of blogs. I try to limit my time on the GOMI forums, only reading them after intense mental work, when I need some brain candy. Still, I definitely fall into the trap of random clicking. I’ve found just going outside to do something, or having non-computer projects, helps immensely. As soon as I realize I’m just re-clicking the same things again and again, I snap that laptop shut and make myself do something else, even if it’s just folding a load of laundry.
Anyway, all of this is to say: good luck. I admire people who try to spend their time wisely and consciously, mostly because they remind me to do the same. We so little time to begin with – why waste it?
We HAVE so little time to begin with, obviously.
Exactly. I think in my case I may have to stay away from GOMI altogether — sometimes reading the picky little stuff people snark on (someone’s clothes, how slow their race times are, their verbal tics, their photography) just makes me feel incredibly self conscious about my own online presence. I’m glad this blog is too small for there to be any haters (that I know of).