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Reduce your digital footprint in 5 steps

October 30, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]Two weeks ago I wrote a little piece on my need to reduce screen-time. Saying so might be step one but a more important step is doing so. Here are 5 things I did to reduce my digital footprint:

1. Limit your social activity on the web.

Roaming the social networks like Facebook, MySpace or Hyves (if you don’t know it, you’re not Dutch) can take up a lot of time. If you wish to limit that time you can do two things: Self restraint or delete your account. Deleting might be though initially but is the easiest way in the long run. I did that for every network except Facebook. It’s not that I’m weak or something (or maybe I am) but the benefit of location-independent interaction with friends overshadows the extra time I get not being on Facebook. So how do I restrain myself from being there 24/7? Simple… I’m there to connect with my friends, not to Farmville the crap out of my life. When you block out all the nonsense Facebook is easily done with a one (or twice) check per day.

2. Empty out your newsreader

I used to follow at least 30-40 blogs though their RSS-feeds. If every blog creates an average of 1 articles per day gives you a workload of 250+ articles to read every week! How many of those articles are worth your time? Half? 10%? Once you subscribe yourself to a blog, you are the only filter between the blog and you as a reader. If you stop paying attention you might fill your time with below-par information. So I started to delete blogs. One by one, simply by looking for the least interesting blog. At the end of my deleting frenzy I ended up with 9 blogs. For the rest of my need for information I use Twitter.

3. When on Twitter create lists

Twitter is awesome. It’s fast, it’s full of promise and is the fastest way to get information. But when you follow more than, let’s say, 20 people you are looking at a 100+ of messages to read through every single day. That’s where the lists come in. Instead of reading every tweet I only read tweets from a selected group of people. The general list I only skim. The really good articles are usually retweeted a lot.

4. Stop using the internet as a hub of mindless entertainment

There are millions of websites dedicated with games/pictures/videos with funny/mind-numbing/boring stuff in it. Just stop doing that. Before “surfing” the net, think about what you wish to do. If you wish to just spend some time, go talk to a neighbour or a colleague. If you wish to have a laugh, do something funny. If you must browse the internet, do so consciously. It will free up a lot of your time.

5. Go with your flow

A decision you made last week is not necessarily the best choice for today. This is also true when it comes to your existence in the digital world. I might use my newsreader more intensely in the future. I don’t know. But if I do I will have a good reason for it. The same goes for the blogs I read or stop reading, the social networks I use and the amount of time I’m behind a computer each day. Reassess your digital existence everyday. The only way you can decrease your screen time is by realizing what’s important.

Picture by L.C.Nøttaasen (flickr)

A bad example to keep you cool

October 25, 2010

“Stercus accidit”

David Hume

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]For those who didn’t have Latin as a subject (like me) or haven’t googled it yet, the quote translates to:

Shit happens.

It happened to me while commuting to work. Let me explain in two words: public transport. I’m not saying that public transport is invented to annoy people but there are these times that I wished I had a driver’s license (and a car). Last week could have been that kind of week:

Monday: 90 minutes delay due to extra transfers

Tuesday: 30 minutes delay due to overcrowding

Wednesday: 30 minutes delay due to overcrowding

Thursday: 30 minutes delay due to a broken train

Yes, that’s 3 hours of delay. Three hours of waiting to get where I wanted to go. (And yes, I only work 4 days of the week :) This can, and it did, make people tired and angry. And thanks to one single person on Monday I didn’t get aggravated or anything.

What? One person? How enlightened was that person and how can I meet her? Well, let me say it this way: she could have popped a vein while yelling at the train attendants. I immediately felt sorry for those attendants. As if these attendants had the mystical power to add an extra wagon. No, she was annoyed and needed to react. Those poor people were just an excuse for it.

She helped me realize that you have only one healthy choice when it comes to delayed trains: Stercus accidit.

Photo by Ryanrocketship (flickr)

Can you resist the screen?

October 12, 2010

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Three weeks ago I started my first job as an environmental consultant. I’m loving it!  It’s a lot of experiences, new people and awesome responsibilities. It’s given me a lot of energy and is making me sleep a lot deeper and earlier. There is however one little snag in all of this. I’m behind a computer screen for at least 80% of the time.

I don’t mind being behind a screen. As a huge movie fan and former gamer I’ve had continuous days behind screens. And 6,5 hours of work related screen-time is something I can accept. It’s the extra screen-time while at home I’m worried about.

For many people the computer, or better said the internet, has become a part of the way they spend their free time. I’m no exception to that. Checking my email, news feeds, Twitter, Facebook and casual browsing will take at least an hour everyday. Combine that with the time I use for watching movies and tv-series gives me at least 3 extra hours of screen-time per day.

This gives me 9,5 hours of screen-time every Monday till Friday! That’s over 60% of the hours that I’m awake looking at a digital box. That isn’t healthy! Or in other words: I need less screen-time!

So my question to you readers is: How can you reduce your screen-time while being a movie fan who doesn’t want to commit digital suicide? I’m all ears!

Picture by VirtualErn (flickr)

Not good enough, try again!

October 6, 2010

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There is one thing you just don’t wish to hear when being on the verge to finish a large project. That thing is:

Not good enough, try again!

At the end of June that simple sentence shattered my world.

Ok, shattering of worlds might be a little dramatic but that was how it felt when I heard that my final thesis wasn’t good enough. At the moment I was already planning vacations  and thinking about that terrifying but exciting new future. When the bomb dropped I was angry at the world, sad for myself and very, very lost. Great way to start your summer right?

What actually did shatter my world was the next step. The realisation that failing my thesis was my own doing. I had worked toward that doomsday and I didn’t realize it at the time.

It started around January 2010 (yes, I’ve been oblivious for long time) with the realisation that within six month I stopped being a student. The student lifestyle, one I had treasured for eight years, would come to an end. This was so much a conscious realisation but more feeling of uneasiness. It was with that feeling that I started working on my thesis. Not the ideal state of mind to begin proofing your worth as a scholar. Looking back now it wasn’t much of a surprise that I failed at the first try.

So what did I do the last three months while picking up the pieces? A lot of things but most important I started reworking my thesis. It’s not finished yet and it’s going slowly but there’s progress. I also started working four days a week as an environmental consultant for a drinking water company. Balancing work and study is tricky but exciting. And as from today I started writing again. I’m not certain how much I will be writing and if the topic will stay the same but it is a beginning. And in that part of the sentence lies one of the most hopeful truths:

There is always time for new beginnings as long as you still believe in yourself.

With that I end this first after-summer post. If you have any questions, advise or anything: don’t hesitate to comment!

Picture taken by Михал Орела (Flickr), painting by John McInerney.


How to recharge your inner battery

June 22, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]Anyone remember that scene in the Matrix where Morpheus shows Neo a battery as an explanation to what humans truly are to the robots? This week I was that battery. Only the culprit that was stealing my energy wasn’t any robot, it was myself. During the finishing touches on my final thesis I was proud, energized and on the top of the world. One hour later I was completely drained.
Looking back I saw two or three weeks in which I felt supercharged. I even wrote about it in my previous post. (Sorry for the hiatus of between the posts!) I was riding this huge wave of creativity and I loved it. With handing in my final thesis that wave came to a screeching halt and I came tumbling down. I realize that after 5 months of research and these three uberweeks this was inevitable. Why?

You need to take a break after finishing a big project.

Especially the ones that you are emotionally involved in, have scary deadlines and need your total focus. Allowing yourself a break relieves the stress exerted on your body and mind while being on the project. You can compare it with physical exercise. If you train something too long and too hard it starts to get cramped. You can do two thing at this moment: take a rest or continue in the hope that the cramp disappears. You guess which option has the highest chance of injury.

So what am I doing during this recharge period? I sleep more, I spend extra time with my girlfriend, do extra yoga and read a lot. What do you do while recharging your battery?

Photo taken by Scalespeeder (flickr)