Sunday, January 2, 2011

the new nest - more scenes from the chocolate brown bedroom, everyone's favourite hang out

No.1 of 11 - disconnect
Les Bucket list of 2011

Without great solitude no serious work is possible.

Pablo Picasso

I've already used up more than an hour of my day here sitting with my second coffee, a cat on my key board and typing and clicking to the glow of my lovely big imac monitor - choosing photos from the zillions that clutter up my iphoto (because for some reason the decision making involved in editing even the worst is completely overwhelming to me), searching for links for this post about disconnecting, googling last night's movie soundtrack + favourite song from + lyrics ... and trying to find a brief description of this thing, this increasingly stressful addiction that I have to the internet. I joke to close friends that if they could see my history on any given day (the area on your computer that keeps track of all the sites you've visited,) they would be shocked. I'm shocked ... the number & variety of places that I go, visit, + stay too long at - is stunning and until now I've sheepishly laughed about it & chalked it all up to my intense curiousity. I'm a proud card carrying information junkie - I've been convincing myself that that is a good thing.

I will still blog each morning because I love it. I will try and limit blogging time to 1 hour. I'll try to be more prepared the night before instead of always sitting down and spontaneously rambling about something or other. I will check email, etsy, comments etc at that time and then once more (hyperventilating as I type those words) at tea time 3:30 each day. I am moving my computer to the other side of the room - away from me. Currently it's vast and beautiful 21" flat screen sits inches from my face beckoning me, all day, c-o-m-e, come wonder, ponder, google, explore, visit, comment, find out, check & recheck ... ultimately not accomplishing my every day goal of growing my wee Creative Empire. Being creative, prolific, trying lots of new things, making mistakes, learning new techniques and becoming the mad creative person I want to be.

last night's dinner - fresh salmon cakes, roasted sweet potato wedges, steamed broccoli
last night's dessert - clementines + 2 squares of chocolate
last night's movie - (one of my top 5 fav movies) 21 grams

and Dave Mathews beautiful song from the soundtrack of 21 grams

My new mentor Leo Babauta + author of the blog zenhabits ... from his latest book Focus

Being connected is an addiction — and it’s one that can be extremely hard to beat.
Trust me, I struggle with it myself, all the time.

Like any addiction, connection has very quick positive reinforcements and only long-term negative consequences. When you take drugs or eat junk food, for example, you get instant pleasure but the negative health effects aren’t felt until much, much later, when you’re already firmly addicted. So you get the positive reinforcement immediately, each time you do the addictive activity such as eating sweets or taking drugs, giving you a pleasure rush and making you want to do the activity again, as soon as possible. You get the positive reinforcement again, and again, and again, in a constant cycle of positive reinforcement, and soon you’re addicted.

Connection works the same way. When we check email and get a new message, it’s a little bit of validation that we’re worthy of someone else’s attention — we get a little ego boost, a little pleasure from this. When we check Twitter or our feed reader and see something that grabs our attention, that’s a positive reinforcement, a little bit of reward for checking. And so we check again, and again, until we’re addicted.

It’s not until much later that we feel the consequences, if we even admit them to ourselves. It’s months or years later, much after we’re addicted, that we realize we’re spending all our time online, that our personal lives have been taken over, that we have lost our ability to find quiet and focus, that our creative time and energies have been eroded by these addictions.

So while I can list all kinds of ways to disconnect, if you’re addicted even to a small degree, it won’t be a small feat to disconnect and stay disconnected.

How do we beat this addiction, then?

The same way you beat any addiction: by breaking the cycle of positive feedback, and by replacing the old habit with a new one.

And while beating addictions is really a subject to be tackled in another book, let’s briefly outline some quick strategies you can use to beat this addiction:

  • Figure out your triggers. What things trigger your habits? It’s usually something you do each day, something that leads directly to your addicted behavior. List these out.
  • Find a new, positive habit to replace the old habit for each trigger. For example, with quitting smoking, I needed a new habit for stress relief (running), a new thing to do after meetings (write out my notes), a new thing to do with coffee in the morning (reading), and so on.
  • Try changing each trigger, one at a time. So if you go to check your blogs first thing in the morning, make it a new habit to not open your browser, and instead open a simple text editor and start writing.
  • Create positive feedback for the new habit. If the new habit is something you don’t enjoy, you’ll quit before long. But if it’s something enjoyable, that gives you positive feedback, that’s good. Praise from others is also a good positive feedback — there are many, and you’ll want to engineer your habit change so that you get almost instant positive feedback.
  • Create instant negative feedback for the old habit. Instead of having negative feedback be long-term for going online, you want some negative feedback instantly: make it a rule that you have to call someone and tell them you failed if you go online after a certain trigger, for example. There are lots of kinds of negative feedback — maybe you’ll have to log and blog your failures, or something like that.
  • Repeat the positive feedback cycle as often as possible for the new habit. Soon, after a few weeks, it’ll become a new habit and the old one will be (mostly) licked. Repeat for the next trigger.


  1. Very Thought provoking post!...and, I'm afraid I am hopeless addicted. I've got to spend more time on your site, I like your creative eye! ... and your animals...but I said that already,didn't I.

  2. Hmmmm, not sure that I agree with that dogmatic statement that "being connected is an addiction'.... Sure, it COULD be, if it takes the place of most other forms of connecting with other people or one's life, but for many of us it's interesting, rewarding, amusing, stimulating, thought-provoking, and, as blogging frequently demonstrates, can lead to new friendships, relationships, interests.

    All things in moderation, I suppose....

  3. me too.....I go through fits and starts, but I find the winter makes me want to stay to long at my computer to play and work, getting in the way of my real work. Got your note, hope to see you in the new year

  4. I have to use your tips to break my addiction to wasting time. Too much television, too much time playing solitare... completely useless activities like that.
    I loved seeing Dave Matthews in "Because of Winn Dixie".

  5. A post that speaks to me.

  6. I think I spend too much time online too...you got me to thinking about it...maybe less this year...

    ...on another note-- did you ever send me a collage from the collage papers I sent you? If I remember, you said you would make a 3x3 or 4x4 for sort of a 'trade'...just wondering

  7. good morning, Susan! so glad you're feeling better. your comments on spending too much time reading blogs and other interesting stuff struck a chord with me, too. I have a post-it note stuck to my monitor that says "too much information! Stop reading and DO something!" and I need to move it to a more prominent place! I sometimes call it getting sucked down into the rabbit hole... and then it's anybody's guess where I will end up! Thanks for the ideas about how to change/modify that habit.
    Happy New Year!


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