• Fri, Jan 6 2006

Simplify by Canceling Something

Simplify by Canceling SomethingOne of my favorite bloggers of all time is Merlin Mann and his 43 Folders site. It’s about life hacking and simple ways to increase your productivity. Merlin has got a feature going for the new year called Modest Changes, which is about little things that we can all do to relieve the overwhelming stress and strain of modern life. His first proposed ‘Modest Change’ is to Cancel Something.

We all do it. We allow things into our lives that interest us, but then we allow too much of it in. Here’s a list from Merlin of some of those things…

  • RSS feeds (Oh Lord, RSS feeds)
  • net-based mailing lists
  • Broadband (or broader band) net access
  • Netflix
  • TiVo
  • Cable/Satellite TV
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Anything of the Month Club
  • those multi-person online games you kids like so damned much
  • always-on tech (like Blackberries)

While we’ve invited these things in, the fact is that they also constantly require our attention. We feel obligated to consume them, especially if we’ve paid for them.

If you were going to cancel one of those things, what would it be? Would you unsubscribe from a few RSS feeds? Cancel cable for a month? Get rid of a newspaper or magazine subscription? Cut down your Tivo or Netflix list?

As Merlin says, the point is to find at least one thing that’s taking your attention or time, however brief it may be, and be rid of it. Mindfully choose to turn one thing off and take back a little scrap of time for yourself.

Come on…try it! What have you got to lose?

Modest Change: Cancel Something @ 43 Folders

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  • http://www.decide2matter.com Kayll

    This is so the post for me. When I first got my apartment I just *had* to have cable TV. Years of growing up without it and having no clue what common shows were took its toll – or so I thought. At the 40 something dollars a month, I felt like I just had to watch it. I was paying for it, right?

    I even bought a TiVo to record all these shows I thought I had to watch. It got so bad that I started hating the TV.

    Now I have no cable, no TiVo and just my netflix. That’s all the “TV” I pay for. But even still, when those discs come in I feel like I have to watch them.

    When I was in college, I had no TV. During my off time, I taught myself how to write music on the computer, read dozens of books, and drew a few pictures a week. Do I do any of that now? No, I watch TV, surf the net, blog, read RSS feeds, and think about what to do next. “Keeping up” with life gets tiring, don’t you think? Especially when we are pulled left and right by the TV, net, and news.

    Great post!

  • Kevin Humphrey

    Kayll – Keeping up with life is definitely a tiring pursuit. Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts. I like your blog! :)

  • http://www.decide2matter.com Kayll

    Thanks Kevin. I’m glad I found yours. ;)

  • http://fishlikefish.com Toni

    Nice. I got rid of Cable TV recently, and my life has completely changed from such a simple thing.

    My insomnia is gone — which I’ve had almost my entire life, I started reading again, and I get more done on a daily basis.

    I rent DVDs once a week, and that is mostly for my kids. I no longer hear “can we have that mom?” every 10 minutes, because there are no more commercials. Woo.

  • Kevin Humphrey

    Toni – I fired my cable company almost two years ago and though there were a couple of shows that I missed, my internet addiction has filled the hole nicely. ;)

    I became a foster parent recently and our agency workers love the fact that we don’t do TV in our home. As a non-materialist, I think I’d go nuts if I had to listen to the constant requests of a TV-watching kid.

    Thanks for stopping by.