It’s been a couple of weeks since my big burnout day, and I think dropping video games (and podcasts) has been good for me since then. It’s a bit like food (and booze) — can I find healthy substitutes?
Unhealthy substitutes to date:
Garbage movies. I’ve dropped my Netflix subscription, so unfettered bad content is no longer at my fingertips, but I have have access to a friend’s Plex server and have been ravaging it for diverting, “nutrition-free” science fiction and comedy.
Comics, either on my iPad or from the library
Books! I mean, like, novels. This gets weird, because it dives right into literary snobbery and kind of crappy hair-splitting. I’m reading In the House in the Dark of the Woods right now, and I’m not sure whether that’s candy or a vegetable, or even if I should be trying to draw these distinctions.
Educational books! I really should finish Ryan North’s How to Invent Everything, because it’s great and I feel like I’m a better person when I read it.
Like, really serious novels for serious people, like I read The Good Lord Bird and felt like I was reading Important Books.
Non-garbage movies. My friend has Boyhood as well as Neighbors on his Plex server. Guess which one I watched?
Practicing a musical instrument
Working on figuring out how to make electronic music on my computer
Working on my danged book
A few other projects/hobbies
Canoeing / outdoors time
I guess I’m still hoping for a magic transformation where I become a doer of culture instead of a consumer of not great stuff, or at least a consumer of great stuff. How does that happen?
My wife’s also encouraging me to read “The F*ck It Diet”, which I’ve kind of read — it’s now in a category of books I think of as “Blinkists”, where there’s a good idea, and about 250 words of actual content in every chapter, and 10,000 words of anecdotes, repeating the same thing in different ways, and personal rambling to pad it out to book length. But the core is interesting. I’ll get into it another time.
Here’s an interesting question for me to ask myself: it’s May. What, in September, would I regret not having done this summer? It’s a good way to find focus.
Here’s the thing: I decided about a week ago that video games were a terrible distraction in my life, and not really doing anything for me other than momentarily distracting me from things I should be addressing and that were causing me to seek the distraction.
That’s a messy sentence… let me try another run at this.
That’s how my brain goes. Or went. I’m trying to quit video games, but it’s hella hard and also I’ve discovered that there are LOTS of ways to distract myself that ultimately aren’t super productive…
Adding artist images to artists on my Plex server
Reading comic books on my iPad
Reading “real” books by grown-up authors, without pictures
So clearly quitting comics (and podcasts) is not a panacea that leads me directly to more productivity and focus; it just leads me to different kinds of distraction. I think my hope is I’ll bore myself into submission and start cleaning the basement or something, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Everything seems fine. That’s a kind of dull topic of the day, but… everything seems fine. That’s good! I should be super happy! I am pretty happy, actually.
Exercise is on point. I’m doing well with diet. Sleep last night was pretty good, and it was a fun, productive weekend that was a good blend of getting things done and having fun doing those things.
Volunteer stuff is busy, but not quite overwhelming, and the business is due to some major projects that are moving forward at a pretty good clip, so humps rather than high baselines.
Here’s a thing: I’ve just spent a week not playing No Man’s Sky. I really enjoy playing No Man’s Sky. But I’m getting a lot done and also feel pretty good not playing it. The question is obvious. Do I go another week without?
My inclination is yes: the game isn’t going anywhere, I have some stuff that needs doing, and… well, I feel okay not playing. So I’m going to commit to another game-free week. Oooh! That feels tingly. Anxious. Okay. I’m committed now. So let’s do it. Game-free week is on!
I managed to go the whole weekend without showering, which is gross. One day is fine. Two days? I actually kind of woke myself up a couple of times in the night thinking I smell bad. So I’m never going to do that again.
The main lesson there is I need to schedule out my video game time. I had a full open afternoon/evening last night, because my wife was out at trivia. Which turned into a marathon video game sesh. And that’s okay! I love No Man’s Sky, I’m having a blast playing it. I work a full-time job. I have lots of productive hobbies. The side hustle is edging along. I’m allowed to kick back and have fun with a video game.
But the fact that I got so pulled in that I, well forgot to shower, which I’d intended to do in the afternoon… not so great. And I didn’t even really “forget to shower,” I just kind of kept doing the “…and I’ll do it just as soon as I…” thing.
Gamification of tasks is a fascinating concept to me. Slightly challenging tasks leading to modestly arbitrary awards.
At any rate, I’m going to wrap this and check my day scheduling. Which will likely include a bit of forward-looking in the week to see what that’s looking like. I don’t think super-gaming is going to be a problem, as I’ve only got small chunks of game time allocated. But lessons learned: block game time, and shower at least once on weekends. Ew.