With the advancement of technology, there are so many more things for us to read. And now that it is fairly easy to self-publish our own books, there are tons of amazing indie books, too. Here’s just a quick, off-the-top-of-my-head, list of reading material: ebooks, e-articles, blogs, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), review and purchase sites (e.g., Amazon), emails, and texts. And if we want, we could also include the online visual and audio components (e.g., youtube, Netflix, audiobooks, NPR, Radiolab, This American Life).
And this is surprisingly just a small list of online sources that can take up our whole day in terms of time. It doesn’t even include all of the traditional, hard copy stuff we have to read, like work material in paper copy form or traditionally published books and magazines or even the dreaded stack of bills and taxes.
Talk about information overload. Technology was supposed to make things faster for us so that we’d have more free time. Looks like it just made it so more things and people could take up our time. The question then becomes: What can you do about it? Here are a couple of things.
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Make a Mental Short List and Stick to It
With so many things and people wanting our attention, and unfortunately so many things and people trying to manipulate us (I can’t tell you how many times people have tried to bait and switch me, ugh), I think it is probably worthwhile and even healthy to say to ourselves: I’m cutting back; I don’t need to please them.
We can throw off any guilty feelings and commit to just a few sites, ones that we really like, and put the other ones on the back burner for awhile. In a couple of months, maybe switch some of the sites that are on our short list, but keep just a short list.
When you’ve read stuff from that short list, don’t go to the long list sites. If you do, your time will be gone. It takes commitment to not go to the long list, but it’ll be worth it. Just keep to your short list. Because you’ll finish reading stuff from your short list, you’ll have more time in the day and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have time to sit in a comfy chair and read a hard copy book or magazine (without feeling guilty) or have time to play a game with your kid, who lives for game time, or change that light bulb or fix that broken something you’ve been ignoring or walk your dog or just walk yourself or call a family member or friend or, heaven forbid in this society, just lie on the couch and think or rest for a dang minute or two.
Life goes by too fast to try to please everybody and do all things (even writing fiction–it’s okay to take a break from writing; dare I say that with NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, coming up in a few days!?).
And the reality of the situation is that everybody’s so busy (and often self-focused) that they won’t notice that you’ve cut back. They’ll move on super fast. Facebook people won’t notice for long. Twitter and Instragram people, too. There’s no one keeping a tally about how engaged you are.
One of the reasons we work so hard is so that we can have free time and do enjoyable things. So, let’s take a bit of time to have free time right now and do enjoyable things right now before it’s five years gone. Taking the time right now will likely make us happier and less stressed, which can literally save and extend our lives.
So, what’s the answer to being able to read “everything”? You can’t and don’t try. Pick your favorite sites and stick to them, until you want to switch something out. Let people and those imagined expectations be, so that you can be, too.
To follow my own advice, I’m one week in to staying off of facebook until the new year (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are going to be awesome!). And I’m consciously going to bed at a reasonable hour instead of staying up reading or watching stuff that really just isn’t worth it. Small steps, perhaps, toward living life rather than reading about it or watching it fly by. And I’ve already noticed a positive difference.
If you’re interested, here are three books that look good with respect to slowing down. Just click on the picture to be taken to the Amazon page.
What Do You Recommend?
There are a lot of strategies to enjoying life and slowing down. What has worked for you? Please leave a comment below. I’d seriously be interested in hearing your thoughts.
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Photo Credit: AlainAudet from Pixabay.