Finding the Eye in the Storm
September 8, 2009 12:55 PM   Subscribe

What are your secrets to maintaining sanity in this increasingly connected and busy world?

I'm a 22-year-old grad student from the U.S. who has been doing a lot of thinking lately. I took a month-long trip to Europe, observing different cultures and the way people live their lives. I've become convinced that our culture is far too busy, and that this is partially due to technological advances that have made instant connectedness an almost necessary part of our lives.

I don't necessarily have a problem with being busy, but I do see a problem when being busy turns into being hurried in personal relationships and interactions with others.

I mentioned disconnecting from "the cloud" as one way I have tried to stay sane, but what other ways have you found that allow you to de-stress and relax in spite of the busyness of the world? What things have you added to or cut out of your life that have made a tremendous difference?
posted by sciencemandan to Society & Culture (43 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
Meditation. Making time to read a bit of a good novel every day.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:56 PM on September 8, 2009

I don't have a cell phone, and while it's inconvenient at times, I've not dropped dead yet.
posted by elder18 at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2009

I added time to spend with my dog. She makes me focus my attention on the ball & her, and playing with her makes me laugh so much. Nothing about playing with her requires anything that uses electricity, so I'm not "connected" to anything besides making her drop the ball so I can throw it.
posted by Solomon at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

seconding meditation, alone or in conjunction with yoga.
posted by somanyamys at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2009

Best answer: 1) If you must be socially networked to stay connected to old friends, try to limit it to one network. You don't need facebook AND myspace AND linkedin AND twitter, etc. etc. etc.

2) Blow up your TV.

3) Yoga, or other focused 'you' time.

4) Have sex. Often.

5) Read from an actual book everyday.

6) Simplify everything in your home to limit the brain time you spend on meaningless things. I, for example, have a strict and simple wardrobe. I wear only plain colored t-shirts with jeans or other nondescript pants. This way, I never have to think about what to wear, laundry is easy, and I fly incognito on the street. Don't amass things you don't really need - like kitsch, useless appliances, tons of furniture, etc. etc. Owning things is way more stressful than whatever material pleasure they may provide.

7) Don't sign-up for RSS feeds from every news source you can. Pick a solid one, like NPR or Common Dreams, and check it sparingly.

8) Go camping. Not in a camper. Not to a big family campground. Nothing can ground you and return you to your human roots like a good isolation in nature.

9) Learn an instrument.

10) I like to drink, mostly wine, sometimes beer - good beer.

11) If you can, get a pet. I have a cat that I love. Nothing calms me down like coming home, crashing down on my bed, and listening to my cat purr as he pounds his forehead repeatedly into mine.

12) Don't get addicted to Metafilter.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:09 PM on September 8, 2009 [30 favorites]

Gruelling, solitary physical exercise.
posted by fire&wings at 1:10 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't get in the habit of thinking every incoming phone call has to be answered. Let it go to voicemail, and check messages and return calls when it's convenient for you. Same with texts, emails, etc.

Realize that doing nothing is just as important as doing something. Vegging in front of your favorite TV show, seeing a movie, taking a walk, listening to music, and other such things are quality of life issues. Busyness of life does not equal quality of life.

Be ruthlessly selfish (for lack of a better word) with your time and commitments. Don't say yes to things out of misplaced obligation or guilt. Your time is your own to decide with whom you want to share it, and on what you want to spend it.

Overall: know your boundaries as well as your limits, and keep within them with margin to spare.
posted by The Deej at 1:10 PM on September 8, 2009 [12 favorites]

Focusing on quality social interactions rather than quantity.

Seconding oinopaponton about meditation and a good novel, I have also found yoga to be a great help.
posted by errspy at 1:11 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, no one has mentioned nature?

OK, get out in nature. Nothing is more grounding, IMHO.
posted by desjardins at 1:16 PM on September 8, 2009

er, I see Lutoslawski mentioned it. Well then, I second him.
posted by desjardins at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2009

Be ruthlessly selfish (for lack of a better word) with your time and commitments. Don't say yes to things out of misplaced obligation or guilt. Your time is your own to decide with whom you want to share it, and on what you want to spend it.

x 1000. I've been trying to learn this for a decade, and I still haven't mastered it. I have a guilt complex. But yes....learn to say no. It will be the best thing you've ever done.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2009

Last year, I spent a week on a self-indulgent vacation almost in the middle of nowhere. No phone, Don't feel guilty about not answering calls, turning off your phone, and staying away from facebook for days, or weeks at a time. Take breaks from it all. It's ok to do so. Make an effort to connect with people face to face. To see their expressions, feel their warmth, hear their voices. Also, don't feel guilty about turning down a social event or invitation if you feel so inclined.
posted by raztaj at 1:18 PM on September 8, 2009

Some of the things that have helped me:

1. I haven't had a television for several years, although for me this is just because I prefer getting my information through different mediums (reading, NPR, etc.) Although if you have a show you want to see from time to time, Hulu and some PBS programs are online.

2. I use RSS feed a lot - this does cut my time down (rather than clicking on ten billion webpages all the time, I wait for the RSS feed to be updated and only go to those web sites then). Although I can't.give.up metafilter live

3. To focus on work, there are times when I only heck my email at the start of the day, middle of the day, etc (vs every 10 minutes).
posted by Wolfster at 1:21 PM on September 8, 2009

I totally butchered my last comment with an absent minded cut in the middle. WTF? Anyway, it's the internets, not gonna take myself too seriously by this flub.

One addendum: don't take yourself too seriously. It's been said that people overestimate the amount of judgment from others, because everyone is too busy worrying about maintaining some level of image, perfection, seriousness of self, competency in perfect spelling/grammar, etc. In an increasingly connected world, just don't worry too much about it. No one's probably reading this anyway, too busy analyzing their own posts. Bah! :)
posted by raztaj at 1:27 PM on September 8, 2009

I almost never answer my cellphone. If I'm not expecting a call I let it go to voicemail, then I return calls on my own time. Just because you are reachable 24/7 doesn't mean you are obligated to be available 24/7.

There are a lot of other great suggestions on here. Yoga and meditation may seem like hokey ideas but they really do change your mind and body for the better. It's kind of amazing.
posted by JennyK at 1:29 PM on September 8, 2009

Create a schedule for all your necessary busy activities, and schedule an ample amount of no-important-stuff relaxation time that includes no phones, computers or television.
posted by davejay at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2009

I'm here to support the yoga and meditation ideas and take them a step further. Get a massage. Do stuff for you, to help you be more relaxed and more centered. Draw your mind back into your body and then you can be free to think the big thoughts.
Make time to connect with other people on a personal level. Talk to the baristas when you get your latte in the morning, meet up with your friends face to face and cut down on the internet/phone communications (where possible). Write letters (on paper) to out of town friends. Cook your own meals, and share them with someone you love.
And please get rid of the TV (or at least cut back).
As stated above, if you must do a social networking site, only do one. I have my facebook account set up to email me when someone sends me a message or makes a friend request, etc. Unless there is someone I really need to get back to, I won't check the actual site more than a couple times a month.
Relinquish the need to update your profiles.
Only check your email once a day (or less often than that if you can).
Read books. And read different types of books, not just your favorite genre. Expand your horizons.
posted by purpletangerine at 1:44 PM on September 8, 2009

Learn to say no is a great suggestion.
Turn off your TV, especially those awful, screechy news shows.
Don't get wrapped up in the lives of other people. It's amazing how much celebrity (and local) gossip can wrap up your mind.
Books! Magazines! May I suggest Vanity Fair! Take a glass of wine into a quiet room and veg.
Keep your cell on vibrate.

Finally: Volunteering. Instead of going straight home every other Friday after work, I go to a pet store and take care of the kitties out for adoption. I feed them and play with them for about an hour. Focusing my attention on something that really NEEDS me, instead of people who only want my attention, is very fulfilling. I find it an extremely relaxing.
posted by caveat at 1:45 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definitely nthing not taking cell phone calls all the time. Just make yourself leave it at home sometimes, it feels really good. Being on the phone while driving especially makes me feel crazy. Cooking and making food seem integral to maintaining my sanity, and doing this with friends and family. Nature. Water for me, indoors or outdoors, has an affect like no other, as well as sunshine. Limiting commute time to and from places in car, if possible, changes your life. It's not always possible, but if so, do it. Make your life about you and not about things, stuff, and everything you're supposed to be doing.
posted by Rocket26 at 1:45 PM on September 8, 2009

Ultimately I don't think it's about doing less but about how you relate to what you do. I fully endorse almost everything in this thread as a route to that, but I think it's important to remember that that's what it is — a way to make it easier to not be pulled around by, and lost in, the frenzy of the world. It's possible, but much harder, to dive in totally to the frenzy of the world without being lost in it.

So if I am suggesting a practical piece of advice here it would be a slight shift in mindset. Don't idolize disconnectedness, necessarily. Example: some people may need to not have a cellphone in order not to get lost in the frenzy of cellphone calls. Others may be able to have one but need to adopt a policy of letting it go to voicemail. (That's my situation.) But in a way, the freest person of all is the one who can answer it whenever s/he likes, and in fact does answer it all the time, but isn't frazzled or dominated by it. The weird thing is that this person's behavior will look, outwardly, exactly the same as the person who is totally the slave of their cellphone.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:47 PM on September 8, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'm reminded of a Zen parable:

The student respectfully approached the master, bowed, and requested instruction.

"My mind is very difficult to control," he explained. "When I want some thoughts to go, they stay. When I want others to stay, they go. How can I control my mind?"

The master said, "The mind is like a high-spirited wild horse. If you try to control it by locking it up, it will be agitated and restless. If you try to force it to be still, it will kick and fight even more."

"Take a bigger view of control. Within the big meadow of awareness, let the wild horse of your mind run here and there. With nothing to struggle against, it will eventually settle down on its own. When it has settled, you can tame it; when it is tame, you can train it. Then you can ride the horse of your mind, and it will swiftly take you wherever you want to go."

Sometimes just getting out of our own way can bring serenity. Our thoughts seem to completely fill our mind. It's as if we're in a constant stream of conversation with ourselves or others... whether it be online, on the phone, or whatever other media. Does it have to be this way? Thoughts arise in our mind, but they are not our mind. By observing thoughts and the feelings that precede and follow them, we can begin to experience a gap in the sequence of impulse to thought to action, and choose to respond rather that react. Sometimes responding may simply mean hitting the off button.
posted by netbros at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Don't watch TV. Don't listen to the radio. Don't read newspapers or magazines.

The content of all those media is expressly designed to destroy your peace and clarity of mind, regardless of what they may explicitly tell you otherwise. If your mind is clear and peaceful, you are not disposed to buy stuff. Hence, the peace and clarity of your mind are constantly under attack.

You don't really need to be plugged in to those things. Let the people around you share what they know. If the world is coming to an end, they'll tell you. Otherwise, it's mostly manufactured crises, day in and day out.
posted by bricoleur at 1:55 PM on September 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

Don't get in the habit of thinking every incoming phone call has to be answered. Let it go to voicemail, and check messages and return calls when it's convenient for you. Same with texts, emails, etc.

Couldn't agree more. It's like a rite of passage. Every young man/woman must at some point choose how available they will be, and to whom.

Myself, I tend NOT to take my cellphone (my only phone) with me when I leave the house, UNLESS I'm expecting a specific call. Every other aspect of my life might be completely mad ... but on this point, I'm as sage as Keanu Reeves in that movie about the guy who sat around a lot, thinking.
posted by philip-random at 1:58 PM on September 8, 2009

...and with great respect — because this would be such an ironically inappropriate thread in which to start an argument — I think bricoleur demonstrates my point. One moment's reflection establishes that it's untrue that the content of "all" TV, radio, magazines and newspapers are designed to destroy peace of mind. There are great works of television drama, heartbreaking radio documentaries and warm, stunning and stirring works of magazine nonfiction writing, moving and spirit-elevating newspaper stories. Of course, there's a huge amount of crap, too. And so a policy of getting rid of it all — the great works of art as well as the crap — can be temporarily useful, if that's what you need. But your ultimate goal should be to be able to reintegrate the great works of art back into your life. Anything else is a narrowed and impoverished way to live.

(Note that this is separate from the argument that there's some bad and disturbing stuff out there that you should read and hear about — I don't think closing your ears to news of wars and humanitarian disasters is an ethical way to live either.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:06 PM on September 8, 2009 [5 favorites]

Realize that doing nothing is just as important as doing something.

Seconding this. There are times when I just flop down, stare at nothing, and let my mind go blank. It sounds like a waste of time, but really it's just my mind going on standby, metaphorically speaking. Plain old spacing out just seems to be necessary for me.

Aside from that, I think it's just a matter of finding your own activities that you can pick up at any time and get temporarily lost in. Those will be different for everyone - mine are running, knitting, video games, cheesy pop music - yours might be completely different. It's better if they're constructive, but really almost anything that doesn't harm your health and doesn't require an uncomfortable amount of planning or motivation to get into should work. (And I would argue that TV can fit this too. Why else would God have created America's Next Top Model?)
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:14 PM on September 8, 2009

Cooking meals with loved ones.

Listening to audiobooks during my morning commute.

Not watching mindless TV. I do netflix one show at a time to watch sans commercials. Try avoiding commercials at all costs, including radio commercials.
posted by np312 at 2:36 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Everyone's approach to this is different, and part of the worrying about keeping up is being concerned or anxious that your way is not as good as others' ways. So, part of the start of this is trust that you know what works for you and be prepared to tell your friends to (politely) stuff it if they argue about your choices with you. Talking to you about them? Super. Arguing or telling you you "can't" live that way, to heck with that.

So, here is what works for me

- I have a cell phone and mostly don't answer it, not to be rude, just because it's not how I use the phone. My outgoing message is clear about this.
- I don't have a TV and if I do watch TV somewhere, I make it social time, not zombie-time
- I live in a small town and go out and do things without my various devices [except maybe a camera] daily. I interact with my neighbors many of whom know nothing about the online world. Their world is as real as mine, plus it works in a power failure
- I pay attention to local media -- my town newspaper, the signs up at the grocery store -- and try not to get too heated up about things that don't affect me (NPR's latest OMG story, etc)
- that said I think it's important to be politically aware and involved so I try to keep current by reading stuff online and in the local paper and talking to people about things
- I have a birdfeeder that is near the window where I work, and a little cactus
- I try to read books as often as possible
- I work in a public library part of the week
- I try to send real postal mail to people, even if it's just an "I'm thinking about you" postcard a few times a week
- I keep my inbox nearly empty so I don't dread email or looking at my email
- I have an exercise routine (swimming) that takes place pretty far from everything else and where I don't bring an ipod or watch a big TV

As I said, everyone tailors this to their own preferences, part of the relaity check is figuring out what your actual goals are and finding ways to neatly segue them into your life without starting to feel like you're doing too much all at once.
posted by jessamyn at 2:40 PM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Every piece of technology - every phone, every computer, every gaming system, every iPod - has an off button.
Every web browser has a close button.

Get familiar with these two concepts and your life will be much saner. Read books. Read magazines. Go out for a drink with friends. Live life at your own pace, not at the pace of technology.
posted by pdb at 2:57 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the suggestions! These are exactly the sort of answers I needed.
posted by sciencemandan at 3:00 PM on September 8, 2009

You're asking Metafilter, which is funny.

How about you read a book? I'd recommend Jonathan Franzen's too-short How to Be Alone, which came out a few years ago, in 2005.

One of this opening essays ends with this:

The local particulars of content matter less to me than the underlying investigation in all these essays: the problem of preserving individuality and complexity in a noisy and distracting mass culture: the question of how to be alone.

A favorite book of mine.
posted by trotter at 3:03 PM on September 8, 2009

I'm experimenting with disconnecting from the internet entirely one day a weekend. The handful of people who I care about responding to immediately know that's my disconnected day, and if they want me they can call me, but I won't be checking email, facebook, message boards, whatever.

I'm really enjoying it; my internet-free day feels about three times longer than a regular day, and the amount of stuff I get done, while still ending the day feeling happy and relaxed and like I had a fun day, amazes me. And that's still allowing plenty of time for mindless TV. I'm toying with the notion of making it a TV-free day too.

I've fallen off the daily meditation wagon, but that was great for the kind of state of mind you're talking about.
posted by Stacey at 3:28 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd add "Don't shop." to the above list of very good suggestions. Forget about having to have the latest whatever and choose what you like, when you like.
posted by x46 at 4:35 PM on September 8, 2009

In addition to all these excellent suggestions, I'll add this:

Find a hobby that involves handling, shaping, and otherwise transforming something in the physical world. Mine's gardening. After a jangly day of moving around various collections of pixels to no apparent effect, if I go and spend 45 minutes in the garden, I can actually see the pile of weeds I've pulled. There's something deeply satisfying about that. (If you don't have access to any diggable dirt at your apartment or house, try a community garden.) I like knitting for the same reason, and the rhythm of it also has a meditative, neocortex-off effect. (That's why the first few dozen things I knitted were scarves. Loooooong scarves.) Wood-carving and lino-block printing involve materials that fight with you more but each gouge is immediately and dramatically concrete. (Plus: razor-sharp, potentially finger-gashing tools!)

If none of those blows your skirt up, think about what you liked to do as a kid, or some cool skill you wish you had. Any medium to large city will probably have a continuing-ed class in it, or something similar. Google for a [your hobby here] association nearby and get in touch with them. Google for online tutorials and blogs.

One more thing: It helps if your hobby is far removed from what you do for a living or some secret dream of your real self. The process—feeling the materials, smelling them, seeing them change in your hands—is the point here. It doesn't matter if you're crap at it at first; you'll improve with experience. It also doesn't matter if you never improve beyond being not entirely crap at it. It's all about 3D sciencemandan interacting with the 3D world and producing a 3D effect, for his own sciencemandan reasons. The crap/not-crap metric just doesn't apply. But it's really hard to let yourself be crap at X-ing when your self-image is caught up in being a brilliant (or gifted, or natural, or even competent) X-er.
posted by dogrose at 5:10 PM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Take a long walk somewhere in nature every day.
posted by mareli at 5:50 PM on September 8, 2009

(I'm a 23-year-old graduate student.)

I make a list of goals for myself and tape it on the refrigerator. Whenever the pull - and boy, is it a pull - of being constantly connected and up to date gets overwhelming, I re-read the list. I also make it a point to inform the people close to me of my goals so they can help me out if I get off track.

1. Meditate for 30 minutes every day.
-I try to do this with other friends who meditate as often as possible, at least once a week, and I leave time to sit around talking with them afterward. I'm also involved with a local meditation community and have met lots of other people who are also looking for the "eye in the storm", which helps a lot.
2. Exercise very hard at least 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes at a time.
-I try to keep it interesting. Sometimes I just run, sometimes I go to a pool, sometimes I go hiking or for a long bike ride or a just a very long walk. As often as possible, I get out in to nature somehow.
3. Watch no more than 30 minutes of media alone per day; none, if possible.
-I don't have a TV, but I find it's still easy to get sucked in to watching all kinds of videos online. I try to watch as little as possible, unless I'm with somebody else, in which case the activity becomes social and infinitely more interesting.
4. Read novels.
-If I don't feel like reading, I try to come up with something creative to do. Writing a poem, sketching something around the house, designing and writing a postcard to my grandmother, finding something elaborate to cook.
5. Practice violin at least 3 hours per week.
-At times in my life I've practiced as much as 8 hours per day, and at other times (during college when things got out-of-control busy) I've stopped completely. I try to keep my practicing on an even keel. Otherwise I feel like I lost a limb or something.
6. Regularly invite friends over for dinner. Cook a really nice dinner and enjoy talking.
-Or, think up some project that would be fun to do with friends. Like, say, canning fruit, or going to the science museum.
7. Visit family whenever possible.
-I'm extremely fortunate to have my family only a few hours away by car. I try to visit them whenever I can, including my grandmother, who I know will not be around indefinitely. I also take my friends with me out to the country where my family lives so we can all go hiking, de-stress, enjoy the trees, and do nice Vermont things like visit sugarbushes and cross-country ski.
8. Pack healthful lunches.
-Every day I make myself a nice, healthful lunch to take with me. That way, when it's lunch time, I don't have to wait in line to get something unhealthy that I don't really enjoy. I can eat my lunch by a window in the sun (not in some noisy restaurant), and feel good about it. For some reason this really helps with peace of mind.
posted by Cygnet at 6:05 PM on September 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

i love this question!

i'm 22, and the cell phone i have in my car is only for emergencies. i don't use it to call people or text people, and i don't have a monthly plan. not having a cell phone and not having a cell phone number to give to people keeps my life a lot less hectic, i think.

the "learn to say no" suggestions are great. it's a tough thing to do, and if you have issues with guilt (like i do), it will take some time to get comfortable with it.

as for news - i went through a phase in university where i checked the news (through Google, on the radio, by grabbing a newspaper, etc.) 4 or 5 times a day. it was almost like i was afraid i'd miss something. now, i've limited myself to once a day. i either watch the news, read it online, or listen to it on the radio, and then i turn it off/put it away.
posted by gursky at 6:10 PM on September 8, 2009

This is sort of a derail, but to all of you people who leave your cell phone at home every once in a while, or don't turn it on occasionally, or whatever:

Please let people know you're doing this. There is nothing more infuriating than trying to call someone in an emergency* when you know they have a cell phone, only to have it ring and ring and ring because they decided to be untethered for a day. Put something in your outgoing voice mail message, or be consistent about the day you don't carry it, or just don't tell people you have a cell phone in the first place.

*the person's mother had been taken to the hospital in an emergency situation; my car had broken down and I was stranded
posted by Lucinda at 7:45 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

the most important piece of advice I can give for this question: every weekend, turn off all media. that's the iphone, computer, tv, gps, even the radio - anything that comes with a glowing rectangle.

Go camping, alone or with good friends. Have long conversations, or just stare quietly into the campfire.

Go for long walks in nature. Explore your surroundings. Bring a journal. Cook slow food.

Sit quietly and watch a view that inspires you. Really watch, and ask yourself, what is it about this view that compels you. If you were to take just one photograph, what would you hope the others would see? Drill down, while watching that view - what do you think, what do you feel, why do you have these thoughts.

All this to say - pull yourself away from the quick-response, the automation and multitasking of every day life. Take time to be, really be. Pull yourself away from the enabling technology, and go find that little part of yourself that remains quiet all week. Do so every weekend.

And you will return on Monday recharged and re-energized. And the following weekend, do this all over again.
posted by seawallrunner at 7:52 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pick a day every week, doesn't matter what day, and for those 24 hours do only things you enjoy doing (in other words, if you would happily pay someone else to do it instead, don't do it). I started doing this for religious reasons in college (sabbath), but it has made more difference to my sanity than just about anything else. It's actually made me more productive because I know I have that space to veg.

Also, from my doctor: listening to music for a few hours a day helps depression/sanity. Don't know where he got it from but...seems to work for me.
posted by eleanna at 11:31 PM on September 8, 2009

another post-college-grad with experience from another culture that helped me question my_sense_of_time:


I realized that I was doing a lot of activities or things to please other people or fit in a certain stereotype. By re-examining priorities, I've found fewer things to do but I'm happier at doing them. This is not always easy, especially if they are activities of habit and convenience (like always going to a bar after work once a week in order to butter up the boss or maintain certain relationships). You may have to sacrifice some existing life goals to pursue other ones.

- You do not have to say yes to everything or every proposition. A lot of times, I'll appreciate it more when I come back (like not choosing to go to every family function) after not doing something.
(after reading more responses, I agree with what gursky wrote).

You may eventually fall out with some friends or acquaintances because you have less common activities with them and that will drive them and their busy schedules away; or because they dislike your characteristics (like not always having your cell phone on you or responding immediately (i.e. minutes or hours) from a phone or email message) and those delays won't 'fit' into their busy lives.

Journaling . has also helped me 'slow down' and feel less overwhelmed as well
posted by fizzix at 1:51 PM on September 9, 2009

Find a job you enjoy, but even then:

- audiobooks
- an instrument or listening to music
- pets
- loved ones (may also drive you to distraction)
- work for others for free

Sometimes be unavailable.

posted by mdoar at 2:33 PM on September 9, 2009

Try to remember that technology is there to make your life easier, but it is still your life. Even the old corded phone - just because it rings doesn't mean you have to answer it.

And I don't understand all the TV hate. Get a DVR and only record a small amount of stuff and then only watch that stuff. There is good stuff on TV, just not a lot of it. Again, make the TV accommodate your schedule not the other way around.

Good luck!
posted by evening at 12:26 PM on September 10, 2009

I leave work at 4:45 on Fridays to play ultimate frisbee with my friends. I may work a 70 hour week, I may even have to work on Saturday, but Friday afternoon I leave work at 4:45. I may even have a 7pm conference call with Haiti like I do tonight, but I'm leaving at 4:45.

There's a lot of stuff up above I agree with - I don't own a TV (well, at least not in the continent I live on now), I read a lot, I've learned to say no, etc.. But somehow leaving work on Friday afternoon has taken on a unique importance. It helps.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:02 AM on September 11, 2009

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