I’m connected. Too connected.
Sometimes the word connected doesn’t even seem like the right word because, after all, we’re not physically connected — as in tethered — as much anymore, thanks to 3G (or is it 4G now?) and Wi-Fi. But, all the same, I’m connected.
After a personal realization that too much connectivity is causing other issues in my life (procrastination, difficulty falling asleep, fewer in-person or on-phone contacts to name a few) coupled with reading a few books that echo this sentiment, I’ve come up with a new mantra:
Analog After Eight.
Why 8 p.m.? Well, for one, I’m an absolute alliteration aficionado. Plus, another goal of mine is to get more sleep. Screen time before bed is detrimental to me (and, as science would argue, everyone!), so I’ve been trying to limit computer and iPhone use before bed anyway.
Analog After Eight formalizes this notion a bit; it adds structure. Two “clear” hours before an ideal 10 p.m. bedtime gives me time to read, think, do something tangible such as brainstorm and sketch on paper or write a letter to a friend. On real stationery.
I had been toying with this idea of shutting down at a certain time for a while, but, one night a few months ago, while reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” I realized that it was 8:05 p.m. I only had about 50 or 60 pages left. If I adopted my Analog After Eight idea right then and there, I could eat dinner with my husband (we eat dinner very late) and then continue the book and FINISH it rather than walk into the home office to check my social-media activity “for just a few minutes” before bed. So I made the deal to try my hardest to be Analog After Eight.
That night, I was in bed by a little after 10 p.m.; I wrote in my daily log book and set my alarm clock (yes, an actual clock!) and guess what? I can’t remember falling asleep. It was actually pretty incredible how clear my mind was. The next morning, I only hit snooze once. I woke up refreshed. I can see this being a life changer for me.
Here are my Analog After Eight ground rules:
- No iPhone after 8 p.m. — this includes texting
- No computer — laptop or desktop — after 8 p.m.
- No TV after 8 p.m. (unless it is a “date night” movie)
That seems tragic, right? Well, No. 3 is easy; I’m not a big TV watcher, but I can get sucked in if the right show is on.
What will I do instead, you ask?
- Sketch out ideas on paper
- Read a book
- Catch up on magazines
- Write a letter to a friend
- Create something crafty (I’ve been wanting to for some time)
- Go through books I’ve read and copy underlined passages onto notecards (something I really want to do)
- Go for an evening walk
- Play a game
- Do word puzzles
- Talk to my husband
The bullet points above are all things I WANT to do anyway, and many of them are goals I’ve had for myself for quite a while, but never started because I never made the time. I understand there will be some exceptions to my three house rules, such as deadlines or things that pop up that need immediate attention. I will take those instances on a case-by-case basis.
But the bottom line is, if I adopt Analog After Eight, I will begin to have a few hours each evening to do things I’ve been meaning — OK, dying — to do or do more often. You could say I don’t have many hobbies because I consider work fun, but this downtime in the evening will remind me to make time take part in simple things I enjoy — I do have hobbies after all! — such as puzzles, reading for pleasure and board games. Maybe even find a new hobby, such as a type of craft. Collaging has been calling my name for so long, and I’ve been saving my old magazines just for this purpose. But they just sit, collecting dust.
This Analog After Eight mindset also forced me to understand that it was OK to leave my day job on time (I’ve since become a free agent, but still try to leave client work by late afternoon) and that I can use my time after 5 p.m. more wisely. I can structure my weekends better (while still allowing plenty of unstructured time to keep the spontaneity I don’t exactly want to forget) so that I get more personal writing and project tasks done there, spreading out my time instead of cramming.
Here I was thinking all of these years that to be creative, I also needed to be super laid-back and completely unstructured. I realized I was lying to myself. I need a bit of structure, some boundaries, so that I have more time to create. I didn’t just need more time; I needed to OWN that time. Analog After Eight is helping me get more done and a bonus is that I’m sleeping better. And then I wake up earlier, feeling better, and, therefore, have more hours in the day — to get more done. This is a new cycle I can live with.
Donna Talarico is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.