What I Learned By Taking a Break
Oct 12, 2015
Hello, dear friends! Here I am, back from my three-week break. I hope most of you are back, too.
Thanks for reading Mike's posts while I was gone. Personally, I quite enjoyed seeing which books he chose to write about. We may have to give him a more regular spot on this blog so he can continue to share. He wanted to apologize for not writing at all last week. He was in California all week for work, and it was not a leisurely trip. He hardly had time to talk to me on the phone, and sorry, I take priority over the blog.
Also, I can't thank you enough for taking the survey. We're nearing one hundred responses, so if any of you were planning on taking it but forgot about it, you can still take it here. I'll leave it open for a couple more days and then share some of the data with you.
And now, let me share a little of what I learned from my three-week internet fast.
First, I learned that I can survive. Seriously, I was kind of surprised about that. Sure, I missed it, and for the first few days, I had to really quell the urge to pull out my phone and check Instagram, but by the end, I hardly gave it a thought.
One thing that revealed itself almost immediately was that I actually have plenty of time to stay on top of all my little tasks during the day if I don't have the option of falling down the rabbit hole. My house stayed a lot cleaner during these last three weeks (although it kind of felt like that's all I was doing). I realized that, for the most part, it wasn't the blog that was stealing my time from me; it was stuff I didn't actually care about. It was liberating to have that temptation basically eliminated from my life.
I learned what things I really care about online. I missed Instagram. I didn't miss Facebook. I missed reading my favorite blogs. I didn't miss mindlessly skimming through random blog posts or clicking on gimmicky links. I learned what I will be fine not going back to and what I want to add back into my life with some moderation.
But moderation . . . that's easier said than done. Gretchen Rubin divides people into two groups: abstainers and moderators. Abstainers find that it's easier to eliminate tempting things from their lives altogether. So they'll entirely cut out sugar or tv or online shopping. Once it's gone from their lives, they feel free rather than hindered. Moderators are just the opposite. If the choice is taken away from them, they feel stifled and resentful. They would rather by in charge of doling out the treats in small doses that not having them as an option.
From this three-week experience, I learned what I already suspected: I'm an abstainer. That doesn't mean that I'm necessarily willing to abstain from all my time-wasting activities. But I do find it fairly easy to abstain (whereas moderating is really difficult for me).
For example, the one thing I really allowed during my break was email communication. It was supposed to be just one time a day (and I actually found that I was very productive during that time and responded to all necessary emails rather than putting them off until I checked it again), but there was a day about two weeks into the break when I had to check it several times because I was waiting for a time-sensitive response from someone, and that broke down my resolve quickly and easily.
So I think that's been one of my biggest concerns with my three weeks coming to an end. Can I add back in some of the things I love without letting them take over again? I really wanted this experience to be a springboard to some real lifestyle changes, but those results are yet to be seen.
In spite of all the good things I discovered and learned about myself over the last three weeks, one of the things I was really hoping for didn't happen, and that is, I didn't suddenly find this untapped pocket of time perfect for writing blog posts. Nope, turns out, my life really is pretty full. There aren't any extra two-hour chunks just laying around. It's kind of a bummer but didn't really surprise me. If I want to write on this blog, then I'm going to have to make the time for it. I'm going to have to cut out other things I don't care about in order to have time for the things I do care about.
And one of the biggest revelations of the last three weeks is that I do care about this blog. I didn't heave a sigh of relief when it was gone. I missed it, and I was happy to return to it today. When I left it three weeks ago, I wasn't sure if that would be the case. I'm still wrestling with how to manage my time in order to fit it all in, but I learned that it's worth the wrestle in order to spend time on the things I care about.