Stop Contributing To The Noise
Less Distraction, More Enjoyment
Over the last two months, I’ve been experimenting with what I spend my time on. This decision came in the aftermath of watching Netflix, scanning my Instagram feed, and listening to my youngest daughter narrate her every move on Roblox. This aimless madness went on longer than I’d like to admit, and finally, it hit me. This exhaustion with staying busy for the sake of just being busy. I was fed up with it. Recently, I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work and he shared the value of focused attention. It was an eye-opening read that contributed to my exercise in simplification. I learned that my time was divided for no reason other than I hadn’t taken the time to critically think about whether what I was doing was a help or hindrance. So, I slowed down took a deep breath, and started to be more intentional.
“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.” ― Cal Newport
The internet community was an area I was really concerned about missing out on. I thought it’s going to be tough not seeing the daily happenings of friends and family. But as I stopped scanning the endless feed of mostly memes, gifs, and political stances I realized how little I gained. Social media at its best allowed me to see pictures of friends and family, at its worst, it was divisive and weaponized.
“Social media has flooded our consciousness with caricatures of each other. Human beings are reduced to data, and data nearly always underrepresent reality. The result is this great flattening of human life and human complexity. We think that because we know someone is pro-choice or pro-life, or that they drive a truck or a Prius, we know everything we need to know about them. Human detail gets lost in the algorithm. Thus humanity gives way to ideology.” ― Tara Westover
My friends, I picked up a pen and I piece of paper and I started writing people again. The act felt fairly foreign at first, but as I continued there was an appreciation for sharing details about my life exclusively. I’ve noticed my penmanship getting better and more fluid. I’m enjoying the intentionality of the process, it feels good to share things in this manner. So few of us get anything but bills and advertisements in the mail, I like the idea of someone getting something special from me.
“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.” ― Haruki Murakami
I stopped binging on shows, movies, and videos. It’s so easy to get home from work, eat some dinner and just stare at my screen for a couple of hours. The transition mentally was difficult and it proved even more difficult physically. I had to reteach my body that activity after 7pm was a necessary evil that was going to improve my life.
“We get sucked into the Internet and streaming information, and it’s time to just unplug and look within.” — Jonathan Cain
I’m the proud owner of a yoga mat that I actually use for…drum roll…yoga. Taking the time to engage my body and focus on my breathing has been so beneficial to my overall health these last couple of months. Instead of surfing the internet and grazing on snacks, I’ve entered into a mental and physical space where I feel better being more active after dinner. It feels great!
“I had discovered something; there was a pleasure in becoming something new. You could will yourself into a fresh shape.” — Claire Dederer
I stopped watching the news daily on the web, television, or apps. I realized how much the news heightening my emotions rather than helped me feel informed. My concerns and anxiety were reduced considerably once I got used to not seeing the daily happenings and I didn’t have the nervous need to check it frequently. I left my Medium App on my phone and continued to read some of my favorites, but other than that I shut down my news apps and started focusing on educating myself through different means.
I picked up reading books more often. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy getting invested in reading something longer than ten minutes. This type of reading feels enriching. The benefits I feel of slowing down and being deliberate with my time feels right. I’ve read six books in the last two months and I don’t look to stop anytime soon. Getting lost in a book, writing thoughts, and ideas in the margins, taking the time to consume information methodically were all additions to my day.
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury
The most valuable lesson I learned from this experiment of time was that I didn’t have command of my own attention. I was been dictated by the whims of my mood and day rather than what was best for my long-term goals. We think we need to be on social media daily, binge on our favorites series, or know the happenings of the world on a day-to-day basis, but it’s just not true. Make the conscious decision on where to spend your time, because it’s the most valuable commodity you have.
“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson