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The Simple Manifesto #8 – Limit your media consumption


This is part of our series on The Simple Living Manifesto. We invite you to join us on the journey.

The eighth idea in the manifesto is:

Limit your media consumption. This tip won’t be for everyone, so if media consumption is important to you, please skip it (as with any of the other tips). However, I believe that the media in our lives — TV, radio, Internet, magazines, etc. — can come to dominate our lives. Don’t let it. Simplify your life and your information consumption by limiting it. Try a media fast.

This is an interesting point to come up just in time for Lent.

I’ll be honest and say that surprisingly (to me) I don’t watch near as much television as I used to. But in turn I’m on my laptop far more than I used to be.

With my laptop alone, I consume a LOT of media.

Until recently, I had over 350 RSS feeds in Google Reader (last week I cut that down to just under 250). Granted, I didn’t read every single post but with that many feeds it doesn’t take long for Google to start showing 1000+ unread items.

And now with Google Buzz and other social networks, it doesn’t take much before I’m at least scanning — if not consuming — the same information twice. RSS feeds, Flickr streams, Tweets, status updates.

I need to cut some more ties somewhere.

Last November, I took a month long Internet fast (except for what was needed for work) and after a day or two of “hardship” it was a great feeling. It was nice to disconnect as much as possible for the entire month. And I would say the break was highly beneficial break for sure.

A few tips from my experience:

  • Start small. You don’t have to take a six month, three month, 30-40 day fast. Simply unplug for the afternoon or a day. If nothing else, cut back in one area. If you watch 3 hours of television a night, try watching only 1. Pick your favorite show and turn the TV off as soon as it’s over.
  • Let your friends and family know. Not only can they help keep you accountable but it keeps them from getting upset if they’re used to you responding right away.
  • Find something else to occupy your time. Remember the phrase “idle hands are the devils tools?” Same goes for the Internet and media (or any other “addiction”). You need to find something to fill the void with, otherwise you’ll go right back to it.
    • Try spending time with a friend over tea or coffee
    • Go for a bike ride
    • Play catch with your kids
    • Visit your parents
    • Organize/clean-out your closet or various rooms in your house 1 by 1
  • CREATE! I used my Internet fast off to focus on editing my novel. Rather than simply consuming all the time, use your break to find something to create or rehabilitate.
  • Enjoy your break. If it gets to stressful and your hands start shaking or you get the “addict’s itch” by the end of the first hour — you may have a real problem — but don’t stress over checking your e-mail or flipping on the TV for a moment during your fast. It’s better to slip and remain stress free than to be bitter, stressful or in a bad mood during the experience.
  • Kill at least one practice/social network/website when you come back from your fast. What did you miss the least? Try going another day with just one aspect of your media consumption. Then another, then another. Before long you won’t even miss it — so delete your account, lower your cable package, cancel the magazine subscription and cherish your extra time. Speaking of — today I deleted my Plaxo and I’ve moved from the full fledged version of Facebook to Facebook Lite. I have a feeling MySpace will be the next to go.
  • Just do it!

So what about you? Have you taken a media fast? Will you take one for Lent? Have you killed any of your online accounts or media mediums recently?

Join us!

Write a blog post about the point above and then share the link in the comments below…

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  1. Simple Manifesto #64: Simplify your online life | we live simply :: learning to live simply so others may simply live 28 06 10

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