Breathing room


Now that I’ve started paring down my stuff at home, I can’t seem to stop. Just yesterday, I walked into my office at work and before I had even turned my computer on for the day, I started throwing stuff into boxes and shredding binders full of no-longer-needed paper. It’s as though I’ve just noticed that I am surrounded by things I do not require, and those things are making it hard to breathe.

And I don’t just mean material things, in this sense of “too much” I have long felt plagued by the number of emails in my inbox, the amount of junk mail that comes to my home, the number of windows I have open in Firefox at any one time, the amount of information coming at me from Facebook the 12 times a day I check in. It’s all TOO MUCH! And it’s been creeping up on me awhile – this sense that I’m distracted all the time, and that I have no control over the rush of information and things which seem to come at me from every direction.

But! I do have control. Or at least some control over that which comes into my life, my brainspace, my home. Not total – because none of us has that – but I’ve got a lot more agency in this whole affair than I’ve been exercising lately.

So in addition to the cleaning out of stuff that is going on in my home and office, I am also making two other moves in the direction of breathing room:

  1. I am unsubscribing from every single email list and advertiser notification I receive. As I see them come in, I am immediately unsubscribing or blocking them as spam. This not only frees me up mentally from having to look at so many uneccessary emails, it also prevents me from being tempted to purchase “deals” via Groupon or anywhere else.
  2. No more leaving Facebook open on my browser all day. No matter what I am doing at work, I always have a FB tab open on my browser which results in an almost-oc checking of the site every few minutes. Overall, that continually checking just makes me tense, and I know it’s terrible for my productivity so I’d like to cut it out.

As I clean out my physical spaces, I feel compelled to work on my mental space as well – for the two are intrinsically linked. Looking around our revamped office/sewing/tv room last night, I felt a lot more relaxed in there than I have in the past few months. Same with clearing off my desk at work. With each non-necessary item removed – be it actual or digital – I feel a little bit more relaxed again.

3 thoughts on “Breathing room

  1. Nor am I unsubscribing from yours! Blogs are something I actually appreciate – they demand so little – and they help me connect to the amazing lives of my friends! (And can I say that I’ve been at this unsubbing thing for three days and I am stunned by the number of mailing lists I seem to be on. It’s horrifying how much time I have spent energetically dealing with such an information assault!)

  2. Argh, WordPress just ate my reply! I hate the way they’ve changed commenting. It’s now more irritating than Blogger for me.

    Anyway, I’ve been doing something similar for a few months too. I try to clear my inbox daily, though I tend to star a couple things that I need to deal with later & use that aspect of Gmail like a to do list.

    I try not to keep Facebook & Gmail open in a tab somewhere to obsessively check. With blogs, I just add them to my Google Reader, I never get any by email. I’d rather set aside time to look through all my subs, just like I would have with reading the newspaper way back when I actually did that.

    Sticking with limits on anything online like this is really difficult though, because of how accustomed I’ve become to the instant gratification of popping into Facebook or pulling up a website. It’s like cookies or potato chips… just one more…

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