projects and writings of Tracy Burkholder
This anti-procrastination month is going really well so far. There’s a small moment of panic each day when I realize I have to face something on my list. But I make my choice and just run with it. At the end of the day I get to add a new thing to the checklist of things I’ve completed and that is immensely satisfying, not to mention the satisfaction inherent in the tasks themselves.
I started out my first week by having a difficult and long-delayed conversation with a good friend. I’m not the queen of non-confrontation, but I’m certainly a member of her court. It was hard, but good things often are. The rest of the week was spent attending to tasks related to my massage business that I’ve been putting off, finding a new dentist and making an appointment for the first time in years, trimming a giant branch off the evergreen in my front yard that kept snagging my hair every time I walked to my car (and of course the task took all of 15 minutes) and finally finishing my stupid taxes. Yay, yay and yay!
Yesterday I decided to severely limit my time on facebook. I’ve been talking about it for ages, but I was so sure I’d never actually do it that it wasn’t even on my list of procrastination tasks. I decided to quit, in part, because of my insmonia. For at least a month now, I’ve been struggling with the nasty stuff. For the most part, it’s not been induced by stress. I don’t lie awake worrying. I simply lie awake, my brain rumbling along in a perpetual play by play of my sleeplessness. Yup, still awake. Try turning on your other side. Relax. Breathe. Still awake. Almost 5am now. Breathe., etc.
I realized that some of this monkey brain is a result of the way technology invades my life. Facebook has been my default time-filler for years. I’d browse it while I waited for the coffee to finish brewing. I’d check it while I waited for my next client to arrive. I’d check it when I got back from being out in the world. Just a few minutes. Here and there. And everywhere.
I’m friends in real life with almost all of the people I’m friends with on FB and many of them are smart and artistic and interesting. In other words, my news feed was often filled with cool articles, beautiful art, updates on events and accomplishments or reading recommendations. Sure, a few pics of people’s breakfasts got into the mix, but for the most part, the problem wasn’t the content. The problem was the platform itself.
Ever since I was a little kid, one of my biggest fears has been that of being left out either on purpose or by accident. I was always shy, so if I was not specifically invited to something, I rarely asserted myself. Instead, I’d slink off and get sad, sure that fun, interesting things were happening without me.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but a bit of that fear has stuck with me into adulthood. I didn’t fully realize it until the other day, just how much facebook plays into that fear. It’s subtle. But I suddenly noticed just how much my repeated checking of the site was in the hopes of seeing those little red squares of approval: a message, a like. The approval was as small as the disappointment so it was hard to see it as doing any harm. But my pavlovian clicking proved that it was, in fact, part of my daily pattern. Maybe this perpetual leaning toward those scraps of inclusion and acceptance has been playing into the way my brain refuses to relax at night. Maybe my brain and body are addicted to the signs and the minuscule puff of endorphins that arrive with those damn red squares. Maybe I rattle awake at 4am eager for a fix. My intelligent brain knows better. And again, I’m kind of horrified to admit it, but so be it. That’s where I’m at.
Because facebook has some use beyond bestowing its little red squares, I’ve decided that the best way to break this ridiculous addiction and still get the info I need is to limit my time there to one day a week. I have an app that will cut me off from the site after a specified number of minutes, let’s say 20. I’ll adjust as necessary, but I see no reason why this won’t feel a hell of a lot better. Last night, having made this decision, I slept a full 9 hours. At this point, there’s nothing I’ve wanted or needed more.