Archive for November, 2017


My week of Reading Deprivation (part 2)

November 4, 2017

So, none of the three Internet-enabled time-sinks for a week. But books? I’m always reading one, would I miss that terribly? And the newspaper? Not really a big challenge, since I’ve all but stopped readin it. I just skim through once in a while.

The week, as it happened couldn’t have been busier – S travelling, my folks visiting, finding myself busy with some meaty work on hand, and resuming working out after over five months, with a trainer, three times a week.

So how did the week go? It’s been two full days since the week got over, and here are some things that I realised –

  • I didn’t miss picking up my phone every once in a while to check Instagram or whatsapp mindlessly. It was easier than I imagined too.
  • I did miss watching the current show I’m hooked onto (This is Us) a wee bit.
  • I listened to a TON of music, like this is 1999, 2003, or 2006 or one of those phases in my life. And I was ODing on a most unlikely band – Imagine Dragons. I’m not even sure I want to admit to this in public, but there you go.
  • On average, I sleep 6.5-7 hours each night. All through this week, I managed a nice 7-7.5 hours each night. There was at least one night where a slept a beautiful 8 hours. This is partly because of not checking my phone before bedtime (which I have reduced lately) and more because I wasn’t reading in bed either.
  • My phone battery life has never been better.
  • All week, I didn’t read through some random parenting article (thanks to the FB groups that I check once in a while┬ámore often than I care to admit) and feel like a terrible mother.
  • Not having ads chase me everywhere – enticing me to look at beautiful and ridiculously expensive clothes that I won’t buy, but will still go click through and look at on the site and then close window feeling smug about not wanting to buy it – was a great feeling as well.
  • I didn’t miss reading my books too much, but was a bit bummed that I couldn’t rightaway start reading from the stash that arrived with my parents right this week. So I was happiest to dive right in once the week ended.
  • It’s been two days and I’ve checked Instagram/FB only a couple of times, Twitter not at all, and probably won’t for a long time. I am blissfully reluctant to go back to all that social media noise.
  • I got a satisfyingly good amount of work done
  • Chores that I thought I might get around to finally – only one or two got done.
  • Finally, and this has been the most revealing insight for me from the week – it made me step back and take a look at how much time I spend reading online, starting with some stray thought in my head, which I then go on to Google. And bam, I’m lost in the great Internet black hole. It’s not so much the amount of time I spend on chasing an idea or a thought, but how often I would do it. It adds up. I would be in the middle of something, and then would get distracted by a thought, Google it and then that’s a good 10 or 15 or 20 minutes wasted. Rinse, repeat. Examples -I’d look at my withering Jade plant and want to look up tips to revive it. Down rabbit hole for 10 minutes. (And this actually happened inadvertently during my reading deprivation week !) Or, like today, my hip joint is feeling a bit sore, so I google hip flexor stretches. Next thing I know, I nearly clicked through to an article on how to do splits. Such rubbish behaviour, arghh.

The wonderful realisation that dawned on me when I was telling a friend about this week, was that I had actually single-tasked for most part of the week, and it was wonderful. My brain wasn’t overloaded with a bazillion thoughts all the time and it was good to slow down and be quiet. I hope that I will carry these lessons forward and keep myself from falling back into my old habits. Aside from the obvious effects, I’m sure my ┬ábrain (and the rest of my body) will thank me for ceasing the endless chatter.


My week of Reading Deprivation (part 1)

November 4, 2017

Reading deprivation is an exercise in Week 4 of The Artist’s Way. (More about the book here. I’ll just say that for a book that was written 25 years ago, it is wonderfully relevant and a must-read).

It is as drastic as it seems – no reading, for a week, and in this age, it automatically means no social media either. The idea is that once you control how much information you consume, the outflow (what you create) will see a drastic improvement as well. ‘It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distraction we are actually filling the well,’ writes Julia Cameron in the book. And how true that is, I was to find out.

I’ve become a big fan of the Morning Pages that she recommends in her book, and I love how it helps me feel more sorted in my head for the day ahead. I believe this routine of writing my Morning pages, despite the 30 minutes time taken each morning, has had a great impact on me as a individual, a parent and as an artist.

Barely a third of the book down, and I love it already. Naturally, I was excited to try this Reading deprivation exercise. No reading and no media meant three things out for me instantly for a week – general internet reading, Instagram and watching stuff online.

In the past I have tried to be more conscious about my reading habits online in particular, and how I end up clicking on one mildly interesting link after another and soon I’m far down the rabbit hole and 20 minutes have flown past. This has been only awareness, and I haven’t done much to curb it until now.

And there’s Instagram. That beautiful time-sink filled with beautiful art (my timeline!) and a bunch food and other photographs. I love the medium for how much amazing art there is out there, and I hate it for how often I’m mindlessly scrolling through posts, Liking posts and then mildly feeling inadequate about my own skills or my parenting, or my life, or rolling my eyes at someone’s pretentiousness. I’ve deleted the app for a week at a time twice in the past and this has greatly made a difference to how frequently I used the app. I scroll past a few posts and close the app now, I don’t try and catch up with all. And yet, I would find myself frequently and idly picking up the phone and scrolling through.

Coming to the third, my guilty pleasure. Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ve lately gotten into the habit of binge-watching stuff, especially when I’m doing something that doesn’t involve too much thought. Like exercising, or even painting, at times. Not good.

So, the reading deprivation was a good thing for me to try, clearly. And since this post is getting too long already, I’ll talk about how the week went in part 2.