Sunday, April 06, 2014


The quarter didn't work out quite as planned.  Something about the morning schedule (I've rarely taught morning classes), the course for teachers that was outside my area of expertise (grammar? rhetoric? not my fields), the independent study that expanded into 1.5-3 hours a week of meeting and conversing:  all of those ate into my blogging life, and into my professional life more generally.  I felt overwhelmed all winter, and got much less done--aside from those required teaching jobs--than I'd hoped or planned.

Now that spring has sprung, I'm trying out a few "hacks," as they say, in my everyday schedule, not so much in order to free up time to work as to carve out room to think, and read, and play.

You see, for whatever reason, I found myself spending more and more time this winter caught up in digital media:  reading a handful of political blogs, reading (though not really posting on) Twitter, window shopping at guitar sites, etc.  That was where my downtime went, such as it was--and it's a self-reinforcing habit, such that other modes of relaxation grew less and less natural and immediate.

My goal now is to trim back that digital life, and to fill my time (and my head) with more enjoyable material.  I've deleted the personal Twitter account, @EricSelinger, although I still have the professional one, @JPRStudies.  And I've been editing my Facebook feed to take out the posts that tend to preoccupy me without really adding value or pleasure to my day.  I've also swapped my iPod alarm clock, which woke me to music, for an old fashioned travel alarm--not because I disliked the music (it was quite lovely), but because looking at the screen right before bed to turn on or reset the alarm made it all-too tempting to check email, or Twitter, or Facebook, or YouTube, or any of the other sites right before turning in.

I'm not worrying about bit professional or personal goals at this point--rather, step by tiny step, I want to bring my everyday life a bit closer to the happiest periods I had a few years ago, when I read more books and played more music and didn't worry quite as much about things I was reading on line.  I was also blogging more then, rather than posting on the other social networking sites.  Not sure whether we're talking about a causal relationship, or just a correlation, but it can't hurt to try doing a bit more of that as well.

I've also started doing handstands, but that's a topic for another post.  :)


Laura Vivanco said...

Now I'm waiting for your post on "Doing Handstands: It's Turned My World Upside Down."

I've only just joined twitter but I think it's different for me because I have so little contact with colleagues offline. "Meeting" people online makes me feel more connected, which in turn makes me feel that there might actually be an audience out there for my work, which in turn makes me want to go and write something for them.

Of course, my positive feelings may well wear off in time. I can see how lots of online activities could lead to a feeling of being scattered.

E. M. Selinger said...

I quite liked Twitter, when I was a more active participant--and also when my feed was a bit smaller, with fewer people in it. Over the years it grew to include people posting on upsetting political matters: not that their views were upsetting, but the situations themselves, and reading a steady stream of this news left me feeling rather discouraged. I plan to return at some point, starting fresh and keeping a closer eye on the voices I follow. For now, it seemed harder to prune the list than to leave the account behind, especially since the JPRS account doesn't have that problem.

It's been very fun to have you there--once I'm past my current essay deadline, I suspect we'll be in contact there as well!

Laura Vivanco said...

Yes, following lots of feeds would be pretty overwhelming for me too.

And I know what you mean about upsetting political news: some years ago I volunteered for an environmental organisation and my job was to cut out news clippings in which it featured. I had to leave quite quickly because I felt so miserable about all the things that were going wrong, all the good advice being ignored etc.