Detox Non-Fiction

Before, I wrote about my experiment going a month without fiction books. It went very well. I found my attention moved towards reading more non-fiction instead. While I enjoyed reading new things, I still felt like the non-fiction was more of a distraction than a positive.

So, I decided to go one step further by removing any new non-fiction reading for the next month too.

My rule is:

  1. No Fiction Reading
  2. No New Non-Fiction Books (Exception: unless balanced with practice/implementation)
  3. Allowed to Read Non-Fiction Books for the sake of note taking review & implementation

This next month (Feb-March), my aim is to implement the skills and learning from my reading. I find it’s too easy to continually read more and more without any of the knowledge translating to a positive impact on my life or behavior. Instead, the reading is information-porn that feels good in the moment but doesn’t provide benefit in the long run.

Part of my motivation came recently from reading my old notebooks. I noticed the same goals year after year to learn swimming or implement systems like cloud backing up my data. Yet, I kept pushing these projects off.

I could always argue that I’m too busy to add any new activities. After all, I live in a metamodern monastery. My schedule is tightly regimented. Where would the time come from?

Yet, the truth is I had no trouble finding time to read many hours each week .

So, my biggest time sink appeared to be reading. I had already severely limited my social media (see my facebook post). I rarely watch television shows or movies. I don’t play video games. But reading is a huge part of my week. By cutting out reading, I can devote time towards practice and implementation of these projects and skills.

Surprisingly, it hasn’t been too difficult to cut out reading. I think like porn, reading was a way to fill time and feel some pleasure. But I find enjoyment in practicing these skills and projects too, there’s just an initial resistance to starting them.

It’s not all perfect though. The one stumbling block is reading online articles. I get into research obsessions like RV dwelling, mini PCs, phone/computer automation, best ways to backup, and more. I found myself spending hours reading everything I could about these obscure topics. At the end of the day though, all that research is only useful if I implement them into my life. I’m not sure what to do about this except ruthlessly plan, track, and review my time.

So, what am I doing with this extra time that used to be spent reading?

One of my current side projects is to learn basic hand sewing. It took me thirty minutes to find the best way to thread a needle and tie a knot. It took me another thirty minutes to sew my first button. On one hand, this seems like a waste of time. On the other hand, I can always do these basic sewing things now. More importantly, it’s helping me to practice a new way of learning with fun, patience, and curiosity rather than perfectionism and anxiety. That’s worth more than reading another book or even the skill of sewing itself. I’m learning how to learn better.

For years, I’ve worried about backing up my computer files and finally came up with a good, free solution. With my laptop recently dying (resurrected with a new battery), the urgency of backing up my files became more important. I had previously backed everything manually using an external HD. But, I’ve been robbed before and lost my external HD so that didn’t seem the best, final solution. After some murking around, I discovered Google Drive now has a better backup/sync app that allows you to choose any folder/file on your computer as well as do only one-way sync without automatic deletion. So, now I can backup my important folders to Google Drive without having to download any of my google drive files. I can also delete files on my computer and they stay on Google Drive. Cloud Backups Done.

I’m also re-reading the Work Clean book to systematically learn the values, habits, and behaviors to practice this way of being, this way of excellence involving focus, discipline, planning, continuous process improvement, and presence.

Eventually, I’m sure I’ll re-introduce more books to my life. For now, I’m going the extreme of practice 80%, reading 20%.

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