The main difference between Jane Austen’s heroines and me
…is technology. Sometimes I dream of Regency England for its simplicity. For letter-writing to the tune of Mary Bennet playing her pianoforte.
In truth, it’s silly to wish I lived in a different age, when there are such advantages to modernity, and I can choose to opt out of whatever I find distracting. And that is exactly what I attempt to do.
Raise your hand if you spend too much of your day in front of a screen.
I spend enough time in front of a screen during the day, so I’m always looking to find ways to break my screen-using habits, especially before bed.
Here are some screen-free strategies I’ve developed to give my eyes a rest.
Flip through a magazine or art book.
When I get into a mindless Instagram scrolling mood (mindful Instagram scrolling is totally okay!), I reach for a fashion magazine or one of my favourite art books. I have such a beautiful collection of coffee table books that often just live on the shelf. It feels like such a luxury to browse through their gorgeous pages.
Consume news mindfully on paper.
I noticed myself becoming anxious by getting my news from Twitter. These days I prefer to buy a copy of The Economist or pick up a free Guardian with my Waitrose card. When I do read the news on a screen, it’s not skimming headlines out of impulse or boredom, but getting educated more thoroughly through my daily “10 Things You Need to Know” email from The Week, or on AllSides.com, which presents news from multiple perspectives.
Keep a stack of postcards by your bed.
Sometimes I’m tempted to send a friend a message as I’m falling asleep, but this means exposing my eyes to my iPod’s screen again. Instead, I keep a stack of Disney postcards on my bedside table for jotting down these messages by hand.
I cleaned up Kiki (my iPod)’s collection of apps to the bare minimum. I don’t have a smartphone, and mainly use my iPod for podcasts, music, and Instagram. I have to remind myself to avoid the rabbit hole of having too much information at my fingertips. I deleted Twitter and Facebook, choosing to limit my use to these addictive apps to my more-mindful browser instead.
Take email off your phone.
Checking email too often does more harm than good. I disconnected email from the Mail app, deleted the Gmail app, and logged out of Chrome. I use LastPass to store my passwords, so if I need to access email, I can, but it’s a hassle. I prefer to check email once a day, in a focused fashion.
Related: A Minimalist’s Guide to Gmail
Carry a camera.
Sometimes I bring my iPod places I don’t need to because I want to use the camera. Then I end up using it for other things. I have a fancy DSLR camera (called Thomas), so sometimes I bring him instead of Kiki (my iPod).
Take advantage of multimedia options.
When you do use messaging apps, consider using voice memos or sending videos. I consider which medium would be suit the message at hand. Recording a message can be easier on the eyes and posture than tapping on a tiny keyboard, and might be easier for the recipient to consume as well!
Plus, some problems I’m still solving [I need your help]:
- I’ll often bring Kiki to count my steps as I’m a slave to my Pedometer app. I’m considering getting a fitbit to prevent this, but it’s expensive, and another thing to carry around. Thoughts?
- I miss the days of popping a CD into my yellow boombox and enjoying an album from start to finish. Now I have to fiddle with selecting music on iTunes or the music app. Getting a record player is something I’m considering for my wish list. Any other suggestions?
P.S. I also prefer to give my eyes a rest by navigating without a smartphone.
This lesson is filed under HUFFLEPUFF for encouraging patience and dedication to one task at a time.