What if.. you made 2013 a “Year of Non-Doing”?

IMG_5222We grabbed our backpacks from the car and ran as fast as we could, just making the last boat by the skin of our teeth. We were heading to the remote Scottish isle of Eigg, for this summer’s Fence Away Game.

It’s an intimate music festival which many of our friends would be attending (and some playing). Once we squeezed onto the tiny boat, we found the last two seats besides three merry Welshmen.

One of them was a bloke called Ceri, who as well as having excellent music taste, is a psychiatrist and one of a long line of foragers.

Ceri and I have exchanged a few emails since the festival, and he told me that he’s decided to pursue a ‘Year of Non-Doing’ which will mean “no new projects (other than my job!) Cut down on web time and looking out for stuff.”

I thought that sounded like a great idea. Ceri was inspired by a conversation between Tim Ferriss and Leo Babauta which you can see below.

Maybe like me, you have things you want to do, but you also need to make a ‘to-don’t list’ in order to create some time and space for them?

What if.. you went on an information diet?

I decided to take a very short break from email and social media over the holiday period. Email was a blissful but all too short 3 days, although thankfully my inbox has been pretty quiet over the whole week.

I also managed to stay away from all social media for seven days, including reading blogs (in fact I barely used the internet at all apart from a few Google searches and checking the track-listing of my friend Sean’s Best Songs of 2012 list).

I deleted all of the social media apps from my iPhone and iPad and blocked them on my Mac just to make sure I didn’t open any of the sites out of sheer habit, and as a result I barely looked at my phone at all.

It felt great to be out of the loop, and we got quite a lot of things done around the house including finally getting our bathroom painted. Now I think I will try to limit my intake of information throughout the year and cut back on some of the noise, as suggested by the book ‘The Information Diet’.

What if.. you don’t make any promises you can’t keep?

This is one of my intentions for 2013. It’s so easy to casually suggest meeting up with someone in person or via Skype but then never get round to it, or to promise to you that I will do something on the blog and never get round to it.

I really, really hate letting people down, and so I will be playing catch up at the beginning of 2013 on all those things I said I’d do during 2012. Hopefully, I won’t add to the backlog by making more poorly considered commitments which I won’t be able to stick to!

Happy 2013! I’ll be back with part 2 tomorrow.

Have you already made any resolutions for the New Year or are you attracted to the idea of “non-doing” or an “information diet”, or simply making less commitments in the first place? Let me know in the comments!

8 Comments

  1. Milo, happy new year! I’m honored that you visited my blog, information diet and all. Being the contemplative type, I should be all about non-doing, however it’s something I have a hard time picturing.

    I do plan to limit my information intake. Am a huge reader, but am seriously thinking about not acquiring any new books for awhile. I read a few last year that are really worth revisiting, so I may do that.

    As I said in my blog, I want to really experience my life in a real sensory way, and then have my writing come from that experience.

    I love the thought of not making any promised you can’t keep.
    Kim recently posted..A Year with Rilke Begins

    • Happy New Year to you too Kim! Your blog doesn’t have the same ‘noisy’ effect that some others do, in fact i find it quite calming. Maybe because, as you say, you are reflecting your real life as experienced through your senses rather than regurgitating ideas. I like that approach :)

  2. Happy new year Milo! I hope it’s a great one and that I get to see you again at some point during it.

    I definitely want to achieve some things this year, but I’m not going to over-commit myself. Though I’d love to write and publish more, there’s no point in forcing it if I’m not sufficiently inspired. I have a zine I need to finish by early February, which should be fine, and no doubt I’ll come up with some other things as the year goes on, but I don’t envision myself being one of these amazing prolific writers who have new material every week – or even month. Clearly I work in different ways, so I try not to measure myself against them, and to be content with the way I do it.

    Resolutions: visit at least three new countries, watch the entire works of Benedict Wong (I don’t really expect to achieve this one but a few films would be nice), stop melting other people’s spatulas, and get published somewhere that actually pays money (something that wouldn’t be entirely new to me, but certainly wasn’t the case in 2012). And I’ve also resolved to work on certain emotional insecurities that have been getting in my way for, oh, forever. So a priority is seeking out ways to change the pattern.

    • Happy New Year Nine, great to hear from you! I hope to see you too. Am I going to have to fly to some obscure country to do so? :)

      I think it’s good that you take your time, because your writing is always so great. Though I would like to see a little more of it!

      The spatula goal is to be applauded, though should I feel envious that you’ve never melted mine? (I’m now hoping it’s not some kind of euphemism). And yes, you should get paid. We all should! I must confess though that I am ignorant about Wong’s work.

      I look forward to celebrating the absence or at least lessening of emotional insecurities with you in a year’s time – and give me a shout if I can help with any of the above!

  3. This is nice – how you sent me a nice tweet saying we should catch up and then call the whole thing off in a blog post !?! the nerve…

    Haha (what’s a comment without a little sarcasm.)

    I think we can find a mix between what we all do now and what you experiment with Milo. I think we can probably limit our time each day to blogs/social media time. So hard to do but I’ve got a great post on how to achieve your goals. haha (shameless plug)

    So, if we limit our time and stop allowing email, social media to consume us, then we will have a healthy relationship with information.

    I’m not if 2013 will be a year of non-doing for me – maybe smart-doing? Or limited-doing? Maybe focused-doing??

    Happy new year M!!

    • Notice I never used any specific dates or times in the tweet Vishnu!

      Yep it’s a good post! I agree that setting limits is the way forward and am going to try that. It’s definitely not something I find easy to do. I like ‘focused doing’ as a way forward :)

  4. How lovely to read this and know that you’ve been putting your goal into action (hello, follow-up email!)- that’s really great, Milo.
    Spatula melting aside (the exchange above made me laugh), I think the points covered here highlight the need for being selective in our time choices. Of course it’s great to be curious about EVERYthing (including Wong’s work above), but having the strength to choose what deserves our attention at the moment is definitely a sort of skill for the modern day citizen. Do I need change for my two cents? :-P
    Margaret recently posted..When in Doubt, Part 6: Average a Book a Week, Or, Be Voracious

    • Your two cents are always appreciated Margaret! Choosing what to focus on and being purposeful is definitely a skill.

      The problem is when we have bad habits and aren’t even choosing consciously what we do with our day. It’s funny how often I picked up and looked at my phone out of habit at the beginning of the week, expecting to see my email or Twitter or Facebook app.

      When it wasn’t there, I no longer had a reason to look at my phone, and I was consciously aware that I was acting in autopilot mode. Which didn’t involve spatulas (unfortunately?)