My friend M, who blogs at Mental Multivitamin, has been a resource and inspiration in my own quest to make (and take) time for things like reading, writing and balance. In her latest post on making time, she gave new emphasis to something she’s suggested before:
Ruthlessly trim your virtual itinerary.
In other words, enough with the boards, the endless email checking, the social networking tools, the blogs, and the like. Visit sites that provide you with information, insight, and/or inspiration. And then? Get off the computer and…
Read. Think. Learn.
I’ve long struggled with an overlong virtual itinerary. For a long time I read too many blogs, and had too many on my list of Google feeds. (Yes, those TED videos are awesome, but having them pile up in my feed list was discouraging and unhelpful.) Even when I weeded those, I’d keep checking email, because apparently every new email sends a little jolt of pleasure to my brain. Then Facebook came along, and I could read what other friends were doing and comment back and forth. Also, I could play Scrabble with my sister, which was a nice way to keep in touch as we live far apart. I signed up for Good Reads. I’m spending lots of time in front of my screen, but little of that doing the writing I must do on the computer.
It’s past time to trim my virtual itinerary, but I know myself well enough not to make vague, sweeping declarations of intent. I know my attempt will be one of trial and error, progression and regression, as was this mother’s in “I took my kids offline.” in The Guardian.
Here’s my current experiment. I have a timer on my watch set for 20 minutes. I try to remember to start it when I get online. Failing that (which is not infrequent) I start it when I remember. When it goes off, I save my work, hibernate my machine, and go do something else: switch out the laundry. Make lunch. Do a few yoga poses. Read a chapter in my book. I tried this yesterday and today, and have been much more productive, while still finding time to blog, read feeds, and email. I think this could be a way toward balance and away from wanking about if I can make it a habit.