Frittering Away My Mental Energies, Thanks—How About You?

It happens even more now that I’ve started a second blog with a bike focus and am seeking to build its traffic. I’ve been pouring energies into promotional efforts for the new blog that result in a lot of Web time that doesn’t ever seem to end.

How could it end? The Web doesn’t--and now I carry it around in the palm of my hand so I don't even have to sit down to click.

There’s always one more blog post I could read and comment on, one more Twitter account I could follow and interact with, one more Facebook page I could give a thumbs-up to and then tag in an update, another question I can answer on Quora to establish my expertise and credentials.

Then I read this piece by Suze Muse, whom I follow on Twitter: Are you using time or wasting it? The answer to that is yes.

By which I mean some of that online time is well-spent—some of it is wasted.

I've found myself thinking of this piece several times since reading it, telling people about it, and applying the principles she outlines (so you need to go read it).

In particular, the social media tab dance (round and round and round between Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Quora, and other “important spaces”) sucks time like a black hole sucks gravity.

I can always "justify" it as professional development, engagement with friends, and promotion of my blog.

Or, as Suze suggests, I can give myself a certain number of minutes in pursuit of those particular outcomes, then close the tabs and go do something else with purpose. 

Powerful stuff.

I just read this older piece by Conversation Agent (another thinker I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for that Twitter time) with some complementary thoughts about cutting down on distractions in order to focus on the destination.

This same theme abounds in blog posts around the globe. You’d think with the number of times I read it and say, “Yes! I agree!” that by now I would have achieved the calm focus of a Zen master. Heh.

One of the things that helps my mental discipline--when I make time for it!--is a regular yoga practice. That serves as moving meditation and makes me much more mindful of all kinds of choices, from how I spend my time to what foods I consume. But I don't have (make!) time for it right now.

Biking, which I do daily for transportation, gives me another tech-free space in which to change up my mental habits and it’s easier to work that into my schedule than a class that has to happen at a specific time.

I also love to cook. Last year I created a lot of non-tech time by preserving up a storm: canning, freezing, drying, making jams and jellies.

This year the new blog launch, putting on Bike Style Spokane shopping events, and other commitments ate up the time I could have put into putting up food and I haven’t been cooking as often (good thing Sweet Hubs loves my Crockpot soups). One priority crowds out another.

So much of our time is spent in technology spaces. Time away from the screen, using our bodies and our hands, can make our mental work better, fresher, and more enjoyable. But none of these really change my habits.

What do you do to stay focused on priorities? (If you manage to pull this off, that is.)

The Very Proper Gander: A Fable for Our Times

I just finished rereading The Thurber Carnival. A lifelong fan of James Thurber dating back to my childhood phase reading dog and horse books (I cried over his beautiful piece "Snapshot of a Dog"), I have always been charmed by his writing style and am willing to overlook his dated references to his African-American housekeepers and the like. My fondness is perhaps increased by his nearsightedness, since I'm blind as a bat (and now getting farsighted to boot, which is Just. Not. Fair.).

Many years later I am much more equipped to appreciate the impact of his fables. This one bears repeating in full while the "Occupy Wall Street" movement is in full swing worldwide and people exercising their constitutional right to free speech are being condemned as un-American.

The Very Proper Gander
Not so long ago there was a very fine gander. He was strong and beautiful and he spent most of his time singing to his wife and children. One day somebody who saw him strutting up and down in his yard and singing remarked, "There is a very proper gander." An old hen overheard this and told her husband about it that night in the roost. "They said something about propaganda," she said. "I have always suspected that," said the rooster, and he went around the barnyard next day telling everybody that the very fine gander was a dangerous bird, more than likely a hawk in gander's clothing. A small brown hen remembered a time when at a great distance she had seen the gander talking with some hawks in the forest. "They were up to no good," she said. A duck remembered that the gander had once told him he did not believe in anything. "He said to hell with the flag, too," said the duck. A guinea hen recalled that she had once seen somebody who looked very much like the gander throw something that looked a great deal like a bomb. Finally everybody snatched up sticks and stones and descended on the gander's house. He was strutting in his front yard, singing to his children and his wife. "There he is!" everybody cried. "Hawk-lover! Unbeliever! Flag-hater! Bomb-thrower!" So they set upon him and drove him out of the country.
Moral: Anybody who you or your wife thinks is going to overthrow the government by violence must be driven out of the country.

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