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Tag: habit

Nearly a Week With Less Facebook [en]

Nearly a Week With Less Facebook [en]

[fr] Il y a près d'une semaine, sur une impulsion, j'ai supprimé de mon téléphone l'application Facebook: c'était en effet principalement sur mon téléphone que je me retrouvais à consulter mon fil d'actus de façon un peu frénétique, compulsive. Et ces temps, les nouvelles du monde qui ont envahi "mon" Facebook commençaient à me peser. Le fait d'avoir cette icône bleue sur l'écran de mon téléphone à chaque fois que je l'ouvrais pour faire quoi que ce soit ne m'aidait pas à prendre de la distance. Du coup, j'ai l'application Groupes, Pages, et Messenger -- mais pour Facebook tout court je vais sur l'ordi ou l'iPad, ou dans le navigateur sur mon téléphone (c'est moins "agréable" mais ça marche). Et bien sûr, je peux toujours réinstaller l'application! Mais pour le moment, j'apprécie le retour au calme que cette modification de mon environnement numérique m'apporte.

fullsizeoutput_5386The morning after I wrote my last post about being exposed to too much news, I decided to try removing the Facebook app from my phone. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, prompted by a few death announcements in my social circle on top to all the difficult world news we’re dealing with nowadays.

The fact that I get “caught up” in Facebook, compulsively cycling through my newsfeed and notifications, has been bothering me for a while. Time flies by and I’m still on Facebook.

Where this happens most is on my phone, particularly because I can carry it around all over the place the easiest. I will stand up and leave the computer. I will leave the iPad lying around somewhere. But the phone is always with me.

And the Facebook app is there, on my home screen, staring at me each time I turn on my phone for anything. And I get lost inside.

As you know if you’ve been following me for some time, I’m super interested in stuff like procrastination, change, habits. And I probably have already mentioned an idea I found clearly expressed on James Clear’s blog: environment is key in shaping our habits. If I think about my “Facebook habit”, clearly the fact that this app is so prominently displayed on my screen is encouraging it.

I remember one step of Note to Self’s “Bored and Brilliant” challenge was to delete your favorite app from your phone for a day. I didn’t like the idea. I preferred to think that I could have the discipline not to check my phone compulsively. And I can. But the problem is when I go to my phone for something else, and end up on Facebook instead — or afterwards.

Anyway. I decided to remove the app for the day, to give myself some space away from all the news. I can still check Facebook on my iPad or computer — or even in the browser — but it’s not staring at me each time I pick up my phone anymore.

Quite fast, I replaced it with the Facebook Groups app. I love Facebook Groups and am active in quite a few of them. They are not saturated with world news or people dying. They are not as active as my newsfeed, and therefore don’t lead to as much compulsive reloading. I also unearthed the Pages app so I could post to my pages. And I use Messenger, of course.

I realised that doing this gave me a breather. So I didn’t reinstall the app the next day. Or the next. It’s been nearly a week now, and I might keep things like this. I’ve been through the browser interface a few times, but it’s less seamless than the app, and so you don’t get “sucked in” as much.

Let me make it clear: this is absolutely not about “quitting Facebook” or anything like that. It is about “less compulsion”. About helping myself spend my time with more decision, less automation. It’s funny, I never thought I would do this. Had you asked me 10 days ago I would have said it was a silly idea. Or that I didn’t want to “cut the cord” like that. And I might roll this change back. But just now, I’m finding that being able to take a few steps back from my “TV 2.0” is really helpful.

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Blogging, Morning Pages, Goals, Habits, and Accounting [en]

Blogging, Morning Pages, Goals, Habits, and Accounting [en]

[fr] Petite réflexion sur ma difficulté à bloguer régulièrement, une prise de conscience sur le type d'activité que j'arrive à faire régulièrement (comparé aux projets long-terme devant lesquels je me décourage), et peut-être une clé pour exploiter l'un afin de me réconcilier avec l'autre. Ayant avec succès fait de bonnes avancées dans ma compta (en souffrance permanente) après avoir décidé de bloquer trois heures par semaine pour ça, je vais tenter de faire ça avec le blog. C'est trop de temps, me direz-vous, et vous avez raison: mais j'ai d'autres occupations "B" pour remplir la plage de temps si je n'en ai pas besoin en entier.

I am not blogging as much as I would like. This has been a constant over the last years and you’re probably tired of hearing me say it. Trust me, I’m even more tired of living it.

I have tons of things to write about. But I’m also stressed about “more important” things I feel I have to do before I blog (like work; or accounting). And then my post ideas turn into Big Ideas and I don’t dare start writing because I fear I’ll end up writing for hours. And then time passes, and I haven’t blogged, and the more time passes, the more I pressure myself to produce something, and the less I start writing — because blogging for me is about responding to an impulse to share.

So, this is an ongoing struggle.

Boats

Why bother? Blogging is important to me because it holds meaning. For my life, I mean. I guess it’s a bit tacky or commonplace in the era of social media (or are we post-social-media yet?) but writing in public is one of the main ways I try to contribute to the world.

Here are two ideas. I can directly link their existence to the fact I started doing Morning Pages.

The first is that I should give myself a rule. It would like something like this: “If I haven’t posted an article in the last 10 days, I will write an article about anything, just to get an article out.”

A few comments about this.

  • This is what I’m doing now. For weeks, “write blog post” has been scurrying around in my task lists. But I never get around to it. I have a list of things to write about, which means I can’t decide which one to start with, adding another reason not to write. Tonight, I just thought “OMG, I just need to write something to reset the clock and remove the pressure”.
  • I don’t like the idea of “filler” blogging. You see it on high-volume blogs, mainly: fluffy articles that are obviously there so that something could be published today. I’m making the bet that because my non-writing is not related to “not enough to say”, I will not fall into that trap. Another difference, I think, is that I’m “producing content” (ack) for me (to help myself blog) rather than to reach some kind of objective, or for others.
  • Morning Pages have shown me that I can write about anything for three pages. I don’t suffer from writer’s block much (though… maybe this thing I’m struggling with is blogger’s block), but even so, it gives me the confidence that if I open a new blog post I will have things to write about.

Vidy automne

The second idea is more something that I have understood about myself, while doing Morning Pages. You see, I’ve often wondered why although I see myself as somebody who has trouble working on things long-term (writing a book, fear) I am usually very good at sticking with something once I decide to do it. In that way, I am disciplined. I have been doing judo for over twenty years. Blogging for sixteen. On a smaller scale, when I start doing something I very often stick with it for quite some time. I’m not the person who signs up at the gym and goes twice.

Morning Pages is another example: I took up the exercise to see if it worked for me, but it was pretty clear I was going to be sticking with it for at least weeks (more like months) to try it out.

I realised that there is a common denominator to these activities that I stick with: they are repetitive. Small chunks of activity that I repeat again and again and again. Writing a book feels like one big activity that you need to slice up to get through it. Writing morning pages or blogging is a collection of little activities that end up coming together to become a big one.

This gave me a key: turn long-term activities or projects into a small-scale form that I can repeat regularly and stick to.

This probably sounds trivial to you. Of course the way to approach a big project is to slice it up into manageable chunks. I knew that too. But I think the missing piece is the idea to turn the objective into a habit, not just into a series of sub-objectives.

Earlier this year, Jean-Christophe Aubry gave a workshop on goal setting at eclau. I am not exaggerating by saying it was life-changing for me. I am still digesting some of the things I learned and will write about it in the future. (I actually followed the workshop a second time as Elisabeth and I invited Jean-Christophe to hold it during our career development workshop series for musicians.)

One of my first take-aways was the distinction between mastery and performance/results goals. Mastery goals are much more motivating and tend to be those that end up working. So the trick is to transform your initial goal (often performance or result) into a mastery goal. James Clear has written about similar stuff. A very rough summary would be to focus on building habits rather than setting goals.

Anyway, all this coalesced for me a few months ago. My ongoing yearly pain as a solopreneur is my accounting. Each year, I find myself with piles of unsorted receipts and expenses and a rather tight stressful deadline to get everything done for my accountant so I can avoid getting in trouble with our tax service. Each year, I vow to do things differently next year, and keep my accounting up-to-date. Each year, I fail.

I had a brainwave one morning whilst doing my Morning Pages: what if I firewalled time to work on my accounting, a little each week? I had too much stuff going on to drop everything and do my accounting for three days straight, but I could afford to set aside three hours a week to chip at the block.

But what would happen once I had caught up with the backlog? Three hours a week is way too much for accounting (even if you add on invoicing and paying bills). I’d wanted to build a habit around accounting previously, but weekly seemed too often and monthly… well, monthly is just too abstract. The rhythm in my life is weeks and seasons. Months only exist in the calendar.

I decided that I would use any leftover time in those three hours (once I was up-to-date) to work on a creative project – something I never feel like I can allow myself to do. I’m not there yet (2016 backlog now) but the idea is extremely motivating.

Grue vidy

After this digression, about Morning Pages, habits, sticking to stuff, accounting, let’s get back to blogging. My success with accounting is encouraging me to try to convert other things to a “weekly habit”. Things like blogging. I’d like to make it daily, of course, but let’s be real. If I were writing one or two posts a week regularly I’d be a very happy blogger. And I’m pretty sure that writing more often would encourage me to write shorter posts. (Sorry. And thanks if you’re still reading me.)

So that is my second idea. I don’t have the solution yet, but I’ve been tossing ideas around (during my Morning Pages mainly). Should I blog in the morning or at the end of the workday? End seems more logical, but by the end of the day I am generally spent. Plus I often have stuff in the evenings (judo, workshops, conferences, board meetings, you name it).

I have thought of stopping work at 5pm and blogging then on the days I don’t have to leave. But today, right now, writing this blog post, I think I should follow the lead of my accounting success and firewall a 9-12 for my blog. I have a backlog of things to do like import my old Open Ears posts, cross-post my newsletters, etc. – more than enough to keep me busy for whatever time is left once I’ve finished writing. It’ll also give me a slot to catch up with my week-end newsletters if I’m running late, as I often am.

See, this is one of the reasons I blog. Like so many other long-running bloggers, I do it because it helps me think. And if in the process it can help somebody else or simply be of interest, all the better!

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Third Back to Blogging Challenge [en]

Third Back to Blogging Challenge [en]

[fr] 10 jours, 10 articles, histoire de relancer la machine à bloguer. Qui se lance avec moi?

Starting Monday, I’m going to blog daily ten days in a row to kick the blogging machine into gear again. Who else is in?

Seems I need a periodical reboot. As you can see I’ve written a few blog posts recently after a terrible dry spell. What happened?

After the success of the second Back to Blogging Challenge, I kicked off the Blogging Tribe Experiment, went sailing in Spain (which put a serious dent in my blogging habit), came back to a lot of work and orphan kittens, which ended up spending 5 weeks with me and only left for their final homes last Thursday. (Yes, I have hundreds of kitten photos and videos to process, now.)

So, I feel like I’ve “failed” the Blogging Tribe Experiment, personally, because I didn’t blog anywhere close to what I intended — or as regularly as I would have expected from the tribe members. So, while we figure out where and how to take this experiment forward, I need a little structure in rekindling my blogging habit. It really is a habit.

Sign up if you want to join me.

Edit 24.06.2013: thanks to Luca, I’ve discovered Twitter widgets. Check out the latest posts from the challengers here!


//

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Exercise: Anything Better Than Nothing [en]

Exercise: Anything Better Than Nothing [en]

[fr] Côté sport et exercice, n'importe quoi est mieux que rien du tout. Du coup, pour reprendre ma bonne habitude de vélo, je m'y remets avec des tranches de 15 minutes (30 ça me paraît décourageant juste là). Ce n'est pas assez, mais c'est mieux que rien.

In summer 2009 I bought an exercise bike. I have heart valve prolapse (no panic, nothing really alarming, had it all my life) so my endurance is naturally bad, and some irregular judo training is absolutely not enough to compensate for my sedentary lifestyle and increasing age (I’m not 20 anymore and I’m starting to see it).

Cardiologist’s instructions: 20 minutes a day (30 seems better) at 125-135 or so (that’s for me, varies with age). I’ve exercised pretty regularly since then, but I regularly fall off the wagon, sometimes for months on end. Between Bagha’s death and India for example, I hadn’t sat on it much since mid-December before I clambered back on the wagon a few days ago.

Born-Again Flat 03

We all know that getting back on the wagon is always difficult — whatever the wagon. What helped me here? Realising that in the case of exercise, anything is always better than nothing. So instead of trying to do my whole routine immediately (which includes 150 ab crunches of various varieties, stretching, a yoga exercise, “gainage“, and 30 minutes on the bike) I decided to just start with 15 minutes on the bike and 50 abs. In the spirit of what I learned reading 6changes, I’m first getting back into the habit of exercising — nevermind if I’m not really doing as much as I should be doing. That’ll come later.

So, if you’re not exercising and feeling guilty about it, start with something easy. Get into a routine of doing some exercise every day. Whatever you do will be better than nothing.

I think a big mistake people make when they decide that they need to start exercising is that they try to do too much too quickly, hence falling victim to New Year Resolution Syndrome.

You’re going to fall off the wagon. The most important question to answer is: when you do, how will you climb back on? Take it easy.

And remember: just walking ten minutes a day is better than not moving at all — even if in an ideal world you should be doing 30 minutes of exercise a day.

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How Will CoComment Change Our Commenting Habits? [en]

How Will CoComment Change Our Commenting Habits? [en]

I was [really excited to be able to talk about coComment yesterday](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/04/cocomment-enfin-public/ “The very beginnings of coComment and my small part in the whole adventure.”) Saturday night, and I really think it’s a great service, but I never thought it would [pick up as fast as it did](http://www.cocomment.com/teamblog/?p=15). As I heard Robert saying at LIFT, the blogosphere is not about how many people read you, but about who does, and how things scale and can get out of hand once the masses get hold of them.

[CoComment](http://cocomment.com/) is already changing the way I [participate in comments](http://www.cocomment.com/comments/steph “See where and what I’ve been talking besides on my blogs.”) (conversations!) on other blogs. I feel more connected. I feel like it makes more sense to leave a comment on a blog I scarcely visit, because it’s not a message in a bottle anymore: I have an easy way to get back to it. CoComment makes my activity on other blogs visible, so it encourages me to be active (yeah, that’s how I am! I like the spotlights, didn’t they tell you?) and maybe more conversational.

On the other hand, this is what I see coming: more popularity for popular blogs or posts or commenters (coComment will amplify the [feedback loop effect](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/05/visibility-is-in-feedback-loops/) for comments). Easy [celeb’ stalking](http://www.cocomment.com/comments/scobleizer “Want to see where Robert Scoble is commenting now?”). Maybe more self-consciousness about “where I comment” and “what I comment”? Comments by [top commenters](http://www.cocomment.com/ “Box on the left. I’m in there because I’m a bit obsessive and this is the beginning, but I’ll soon drop out, no fear.”) will have a different weight on your blog, and different consequences, because they’ll get a different visibility. A-lister X’s comment on a lowly blog may have gone unnoticed until now, but if they use coComment, it won’t anymore. Will we start signing out of coComment to retain privacy over a certain amounts of comments we make, and that we don’t want in the public eye?

I’m really happy to see coComment gaining so much popularity. I’m just a bit worried. Is this too much success/visibility to soon? I’ve seen people (gently) bitching around already about what a shame it was that coComment did not support all blog platforms, or that it only tracked comments by coCommenters. Laurent says he’s [pushing to open it up on Monday night](http://www.ballpark.ch/blog/english/514/follow-cocomment), but I wonder: is it really a good idea? What are the risks involved? What has the most potential for damage: frustrating people because they can’t yet be “part of it”, or not being able to manage the scaling, user feedback, and user expectations for a public service?

I know I’m a worry-bug, and Laurent and Nicolas are smart and know the insides of the service much better than I do — so I’ll just go and prepare my stuff for school and worry about useful things for my life just now (like, what am I going to teach this morning). All the same, guys: “Soyez prudents!”

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Night Jewellery [en]

Night Jewellery [en]

[fr] Chers amis lecteurs, retirez-vous votre quincaillerie (comprenez: "vos bijoux si vous en avez") pour dormir?

Do you remove all your jewellery at night, dear readers? (If you wear any daily, that is…)

I personally don’t, and I was talking with a friend yesterday who found that surprising.

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