Simon Woods

This is a post about updates in a number of ways.

Let’s start with the overview:

Taking a break

Now for the detailed part, specifically with regard to a theme I’ve seen lately on my timeline. Namely that of time, focus, and how I can better utilise both of these things to live my life in the way I truly wish.

Daily blogging is first. I’m still writing but microblog posts will become infrequent; this has already been somewhat true so isn’t too much of a change. It could soon become even more obvious, however. This includes replies in conversations, which is the most difficult thing to step away from; I continue to read conversations on at least as much as anything else I read, perhaps even more.

Next is podcasts. Until recently I had over 130 subscriptions, and whilst that is a misleading number in some ways (included completed shows, infrequently posted shows, and shows in which I did not listen to every new episode) it reflected a problem that had crept upon me. Podcasts are wonderful, even more so than video on the web as far as I’m concerned but the truth is that they often carry a hefty time investment and are so very good at plugging into my mind; they had become an example of other people’s thoughts intruding upon my own in a manner that is not conducive to good focus.

I am now subscribed to my 7 favourite shows and even then the highest volume is once per week, with only one opinion-based concept that has the potential to intrude upon my own thoughts. This number may again decrease but I have already felt the benefits of this reduction.

TV and YouTube are in a similar position to podcasts; the former has been severely cut down over the past year (weekly viewing is all but non-existent) whilst the latter is centred around a handful of channel subscriptions, the majority of which have irregular schedules. I have also deleted all but one manual playlist and cut my Watch Later playlist down to a third of its previous size. There is no news-based watching happening at all, whilst opinion-based productions are carefully chosen rather than casually watched.

TV will become almost exclusively just the shows I watch with Claire.

When it comes to reading the web, I am finally choosing to organise my RSS subscriptions and will form an essential collection of feeds for daily reading. This is my primary source of web reading, the medium I have discovered to be the very best.

I am no longer reading social media from a personal account and although those few accounts still exist they are now essentially frozen for the foreseeable future. My work accounts continue to exist, used largely only for posting.

My use of technology has played a part with these changes, inevitably. The introduction of my first iPad into my set up has helped to re-affirm a more focused approach to my average day, whilst my phone software has been minimalised (as can be seen here). I’m also finally going to make a regular habit of taking my laptop to places outside of the home for writing and light tasks, the two types of work to which my Chromebook is limited.

Work has become an area of great improvement, specifically from the viewpoint of there being a much healthier integration into my life. By work I mean that which I am attempting to achieve separately from my primary job as a carer.

I am more focused than ever on completing my objectives with various projects, including blogging middle-to-long length posts which are being made in a more substantial state of mind. This is a sharp contrast to the ephemeral snack-sized efforts encouraged by the demands of The Feed.

Speaking of which, I have never felt less comfortable with the closed silo, short-term, empty information based web; not only do I disagree on a wider philosophical front but it is personally offensive for this to be considered “normal” and “the standard”. That we take this idea, this construct built around sterile ideas and shallow thinking and we call it good is a damning indictment of this point in time, this version of society as we know it.

The other deciding factor in my decision is that I am both needed and wanted more than ever in the physical world, for which I am grateful but also aware of the tangible reality here; to function well is to be focused and clear, deliberate and without a constant stream of small distractions – I will remember this time in my life and it won’t be because of the latest viral video, tweetstorm, or latest round of Lighting The Dumpster Aflame.

Inspirations for this post include Patrick Rhone, CGP Grey, and many of the fine folks in my timeline.