Do you ever feel like you are trying to deal with too much information? Like there is too much going on your head? That you can’t process everything that’s going on?
I felt like that at the start of last week. Business has picked up strongly after a post-honeymoon lull, and I’ve gained some new clients, which means a steep learning curve and some careful juggling of priorities. This all coincided with a bit of financial stress and on top of that my 30th birthday is coming up, and though I haven’t done any real planning yet, it has been at the back of my mind.
So all in all I was a bit stressed. I don’t get stressed very often. I seem to have some pretty decent coping mechanisms, centred around simply giving my brain time to process everything that’s going on. But this requires letting my brain freewheel — something I had stopped doing.
It’s easy to do. There are so many ways to occupy your eyes and ears, particularly in a house full of gadgets. But all the time you are watching, listening, playing, browsing or typing, your brain is trying to absorb information rather than process what is already there. (Not at all scientific I’m afraid but it seems to be true for me).
My wife suggested cutting back on screen time — getting away from TVs, laptops, PCs and smartphones and doing something different. Ditching them altogether wouldn’t have helped my financial stress because I then couldn’t work, but it was an important suggestion and what kicked off the idea of my Analogue Week.
I limited ‘screen time’ to working hours. I cut out the radio — especially anything with too much talking. I stopped playing games on my phone any time I had a few spare seconds. Instead I read a book, listened to CDs (strictly digital but as analogue as you can get in my house), went out for dinner and to the theatre, caught up on some outstanding DIY, and most importantly of all, just did nothing.
For example, while waiting at the train station, I just looked around, enjoyed the brief moments of sunshine and did a bit of people watching (always entertaining). While driving for long periods I just kept the radio off and focused on the surroundings (and the road of course).
The result is that I actually addressed the issues that were stressing me out rather than trying to distract my brain from dealing with them. I feel a lot calmer as a result, and also a lot more productive.
Not everyone is quite as addicted to their screens as I am, but I think it could be valuable to allocate some time each day, week, month or quarter to getting away from technology and the huge volumes of information it brings. To let your brain process everything that’s going on and let it catch up.
We seem to have days and weeks allocated to just about every other issue. Why not an annual Analogue Week?