I didn’t realize it when I started, but thanks to leap year, I get one more day of not wasting time on the internet via games and mindless browsing. That is probably a good thing, as I have still a lot to get accomplish today! However, I am not going to lie, I was really looking forward to playing a game of Ticket to Ride online. I guess that will have to wait till tomorrow!
Overall, this month has been a good experiment. Of course, I found countless other ways to waste time that didn’t involve gaming or internet browsing. But, overall, I was much more productive as well. So, while I did waste time, I didn’t waste as much time. In the end, I probably spent about an hour a day working on things that might have otherwise been wasted. To, me that is a success.
One of the downsides to this month, was that I really didn’t have all that much to write about. Every now and then I would sit down to write a blog post, and think to myself: “well I haven’t been gaming or internet browsing, but that’s about it…” However, I didn’t necessarily pick this particular fast in order to be able to write about it. I picked it so I could be more productive. But sense I am blogging about my experience, being able to write about it certainly is a bonus!
I still haven’t totally decided on what I’ll be embracing for the month of March. I have still have a few options that I am mulling over. I’ll be deciding tonight and I’ll post about it tomorrow.
Here is a link to an awesome article by Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist. I love the list of ways he has benefited from observing Lent and fasting from “controlling influences”. This was a perfect article for me today, as I have been getting impatient with staying away from gaming and internet browsing. This article is a great reminder of the benefits of stepping away, fasting, and practicing self control… sounds a little bit like refrain, huh? Check it out….
Well, I’ve been cruising through this month, doing my best to stay away from wasting time via online gaming or mindless browsing. When I started, I just took a mental note as to what qualifies for these activities and have proceeded accordingly. There were a few major time wasters that I really wanted to avoid. In my mind, Sudoku didn’t count as one of those. In the past, I haven’t spent much time playing Sudoku, plus I figured it is something that “exercises” the mind. So I made it fair game for this month. That was working pretty well until this past weekend when we went for a visit to my wife’s parent’s house. While there, I played several games of Sudoku. I didn’t really have much to do (since the kids were occupied with their grandparents) and I didn’t have my computer to work on some of my current projects. I figured I might as well play a game or two.
After 5-6 games, my beautiful wife gently called me over. She looked at me and said: Sudoku totally counts! Busted. I had just wasted an hour or more that I could have spent hanging out with my family. Note to self: be ready to change the rules for each month as is needed.
I’ve been keeping busy staying away from mindless internet searching and playing games. Full disclosure: I did play one game the other day. I wasn’t even thinking about it. My son was playing by himself and I just sat down and fired up a game out of habit. Oh well… one game in 12 days isn’t too bad. I’ll try to stay away for the rest of the month.
Here are some of the ways I am filling my time that would normally be wasted away:
- Watching Pudge: My Dad has been out of town for a couple of weeks, and I am helping to take care of his dog, Pudge. For some dogs, that isn’t a big deal. But for a dog with endless energy… it can take up a good part of the day. He isn’t staying with us, so I have to head over to my Dad’s house for a couple of hours a day. His neighbor takes care of the rest.
- A little bit more Netflix: Not all of my time filling has been replaced with productive means. I have definitely seen an uptick in my Netflix watching. Most of the increase is a new show that I found, which I have been watching with my wife. So that’s good, right?
- Relationships: I haven’t noticed a dramatic change in spending time with family and friends, but I have to think that it is happening more in the small spaces that might have been spent elsewhere. I am going to keep an eye on this and maybe be more intentional about it through the rest of the month.
So there you have it… I’ll keep you posted as the month rolls along.
So, as it turns out, giving things up isn’t all that fun. I can’t tell you how many times over the last few days that I have found some downtime and wanted to use it to play a game of Ticket to Ride or Settlers. However, when I have had a few minutes of downtime, instead of jumping to ESPN or firing up a game, I jumped over to the CSS/HTML tutorial I have been working on and got some work done instead. Tonight I actually finished the tutorial. Now, I wouldn’t call myself a web-design guru by any stretch just yet, but my knowledge and skills are much further down the road than they were just a week or two ago. I started working on this tutorial in December, but I have already spent about the same amount of time working on it in February as I did in January or December.
By the way, the tutorial that I did was excellent and free… so if you’re interested in learning the basics of HTML and CSS… click here to check it out.
Focusing on daily solitude for the last month has been fantastic. I wasn’t perfect at it, as I missed 3 days. But still, that is 28 days where I took some intentional time in solitude to reflect and be silent and pray. I have already continued into February and hope to keep this up throughout the year. Ultimately, I want this to be normal part of my life… a habit.
I fell into a pretty good rhythm with about 20-25 minutes a day. I would usually start with just a few moments of silence, sometimes saying a breath prayer for a few minutes to center. I would journal for a little bit and then spend some time reading scripture. At the end I would spend some time in silence and / or prayer. Overall, this was good structure. At the beginning, I had hoped to see a bit more of a varied structure, but I think having a rhythm was somewhat necessary to develop this as a habit. I had also hoped to find some extended time in solitude over the month, but that never happened. As I continue to practice daily solitude, I think I’ll see both of those happen.
This was kind of a no-brainer place for me to start my year of embrace / refrain. I have always valued time in solitude and had just gotten away from it the past couple of years. If you have never developed a consistent habit of solitude, or if like me, you have gotten away from it… I encourage you to take a month and give it a try.
I guess last night was my “fat tuesday” for internet games. In classic form, on the eve of giving up online gaming and wasting time on the internet for the month… I sat down at 11pm to get as many games in as I could before the month was up! Of course, my last game of Ticket to Ride ended in a tie, which is not only quite rare, but left me a bit unsettled. Winning would have been nice, losing happens, but a tie? Maybe I am just too competitive.