A few weeks back, on NYE 2103, I decided that I’d start 2014 with a pretty simple change: To seek less stimulus. I wrote a blog post and a status update explaining my impending Facebook absence. I sent an email at work to no longer expect immediate email responses. The changes ended up being:
- No more Facebook.
- Conditions allowing, moving to limited windows of checking & responding to emails.
- Limiting Twitter + daily consumption of news, RSS, etc to a couple of slugs a day.
Why? Listed in order from most tangible to the most abstracted:
1) Productivity – I’ve chosen to give up these things so that I can be more productive. I feel like I can use time better, specifically towards more directed tasks and projects. I end every year not accomplishing as much as I would have liked and with a vague notion that I’ve left “opportunity on the table.”
2) Stillness – Reducing noise. Constantly checking email, twitter, facebook, espn, techcrunch, et al, satisfied my curiosity and staved off boredom. I was never allowing my mind to sit still, instead constantly feeding it stimuli, which was causing me to feel ubiquitously rushed and frenzied.
3) Substance – Finally, as explained in my previous post, I did this because I had a number of doubts as to the “realness” of these virtual relationships. Going further, I wondered if rather than being accretive to my life, whether they actually hindered the progress I’m trying to make in being a better, happier human.
Since the new year, I’ve read a few blog posts from others who are trying something simpler. Clearly these feelings go beyond just me. I don’t think I’m doing anything complicated. I think it’s a combination of trying to increase the signal-to-noise of my everyday using the most basic of concepts: focus. I’m just trying to stay focused on being present in the moment. It’s an ancient and probably overused phrases + concept. But, I’m clearly doing nothing special. In fact, my NY resolution wasn’t giving up Facebook, etc. My only resolution was to focus more on whatever I chose to experience and do each day. The way that I’m doing trying to live this resolution is through the above list of stuff I’ve given up.
I’ll end by nothing that making this change obviously comes at a cost. After all, nothing’s free. I won’t see nearly as many news stories, that latest piece of market data, internet memes, and all the rest. I’ll be less well-informed. I always thought my consumption of this very broad firehose of information was a key strength. My creativity fueled by connecting the frameworks of disparate topics that were absorbed by consuming more than others. Yet, I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think it a tradeoff worth making. My belief is that what I’ll gain from thinking more deeply on fewer projects, by being more present on each of my daily experiences, and having more whitespace, will result in its own kind of knowledge, creativity, and happiness. I guess we’ll see.