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.)


  1. The way I organize it is by putting my social activities and use of the tools at the service of my research needs and projects goals. Then I throw in a bit of serendipity here and there to keep things balanced. In other words: I don't use G+, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to promote myself or my business, I use them like a lab.

  2. Interesting post Barb. You sound like you might be in a place where reading "You Are Not a Gadget" might be useful.

  3. Still working on that balance, and finding I have to go back to a technique I practiced when my daughter was small and she called me on that far away look in my eyes when I wasn't really listening to her (that was pre-technology, BTW). I consciously, physically focus on the person I am talking/listening to, the paper I am reading, the news account I need to hear and STOP multi-tasking. In severe cases I repeat a mantra - be in the moment, be in the moment, be in the moment . . .

  4. I think you've got the right focus here. I'm interested in using SM tools only when it shows a direct benefit to my family, me or my job. Anything outside that scope is tossed. Granted, I can fit a lot inside that space, but it gives me an excuse to move along when I feel I'm wasting my time.

    I think you also need to recognize that you've (sorry to say) "pioneered" the use of SM tools in a professional position, at least in the Spokane area - can't comment outside that. Being a pioneer takes work, but it doesn't mean you can't shift your priorities. In fact, you should when it fits your needs (of family, personal and professional).


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