I noticed the hashtag #NoMediaMonday on Twitter at some point in the past. As with most people, I thought “That’s a good idea” and then went merrily on my way searching through Facebook and Twitter, listening to the daily news channel, and watching Monday Night Football (or whatever was on television at that time). Now that I have retired and I have the time to watch television all day if I want to, I find that I watch less of it than I did before I retired. Which makes me wonder, “Was I just watching television to filter out the day’s activities?” or “Was I avoiding getting started on something that I really wanted to do but was afraid to do?”
I’ve been listening to (and reading) The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s been quite an eye-opener to realize how much of our day we spend performing “resistance” activities. I’ve always wanted to write and blog. I’ve started a blog several times, but never with a real focus or an intent to use the blog as a creative starting point for anything else. Resistance to “the pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art”, as Pressfield states, comes in many forms that sneak up on you, like watching television and interacting on social media. Even eating food (and drinking wine) can be a form of resistance.
There are so many things that ‘must’ occupy our time when we are working and raising a family. They’re not normally activities that we can reschedule. Most jobs still entail getting up early, getting ready for work, traveling to work, staying there for eight-plus hours, and then returning home. While work-at-home and entrepreneurial jobs are becoming more prevalent, they are still outside the norm for the average person. Even so, they can still take up several hours of the day.
When we are also a caregiver, whether that be as a parent for our children or taking care of others, at a minimum we have to make sure that those in our care are clothed, fed, organized, taken care of when ill, and loved. Add to that list school, social activities, medical visits, medical care at home, and any other number of physical activities associated with caring for others and you end up with very little time left for yourself.
So when we do have time for ourselves, what do we do? We withdraw into a little mini-world of our own by watching television, getting on Facebook or other social media, or numbing ourselves with the pleasures of food and wine. Any one of these activities can be used to enhance our lives, but usually (mostly in the case of media) we carry them to excess. And what we don’t do is focus on things that will make us really happy in the long run.
I’m a big fan of Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning book. The underlying premise is that if we get up in the morning and take care of ourselves and our major values first, then no matter what happens in the remainder of the day we are better equipped (mentally) to handle it. We know that no matter how hectic the day may become, for at least a portion of the day we’ve focused on what is really important to us as individuals. We do that first. Then we can also manage to take care of everyone and everything else in our lives. But if you also begin to take away television and social media for one day of the week, you gain a few extra hours to work on one of your passions, whether it be art, music, writing, or any other creative pursuit. The Miracle Morning gives you a start on identifying what you could/should focus on, but a No Media Monday gives you the time to actually pursue your goals.
So I’m going to make No Media Monday a regular practice. No television, not even the local news. No social media except for proactive (as opposed to reactive) activities – like inspirational tweets, commenting on informative blog posts I’ve read, posting informational articles to Facebook, etc. – that further my goals. I will no longer let Resistance run rampant on Mondays. I will spend most of my spare time reading books or articles, doing research, writing or blogging. And at the end of the day I know I won’t have missed any of the media (it will all be there tomorrow) but I will feel so much better for spending time on the things I’m most passionate about. And maybe that will lead to even more No Media days.
(written on Monday, September 14, 2015)