By Leo Babauta
I’m starting 2014 with the hardest month of my Year of Living Without so far: no Internet all day.
OK, let’s rephrase that — I’m not going to use the Internet all day, except to post stuff to my blogs/sites or for programming. And for an hour at 5pm each day.
That means from morning until 5pm, I can’t check email, read stuff online, do admin stuff for my business online, go to my bank websites, look stuff up.
To be clear, here are the only exceptions:
- To post content online. This is basically to post a new article to Zen Habits, mnmlist, unschoolery, Sea Change and the like. I’m going to write it all offline, then go online for a minute just to post it. No checking email or Twitter.
- For an hour at 5pm each day. I still have a business to run, so at 5pm I’ll process email as close to empty as possible, and take care of admin tasks.
- For one live webinar. I plan to hold one live webinar on mindfulness for Sea Change.
- Read 30 minutes each night. After my 5pm email/administrative session, I’ll give myself 30 minutes sometime later in the evening to read RSS feeds and saved long-form articles in Instapaper.
What will I be doing all day instead of using the Internet? Mostly these things:
- Meditating. Every morning, first thing.
- Learning Spanish. I’m spending about 30 minutes each morning studying Pimsleur Spanish.
- Writing. I’m going to write my blog posts and other content offline. I’ll also be working on my new print book, Zen Habits.
- Exercising. I’m planning to work out every weekday at noon.
- Spending time with family. Reading with my kids, playing with them, etc.
- Drinking tea. I’ve been having tea at 4pm with the kids.
I’ll report back to all of you at the beginning of next month — wish me luck!
Oh, and yes, I wrote this offline.
December: A Month Without Refined Carbs
In December, for my Year of Living Without I went most of the month without refined carbs. That means no sugar, white flour, white rice, white potatoes. It was mostly easy, as I’ve been eating this way for about 6 months (with some exceptions here and there).
Here’s what I learned:
- It’s not that hard. I actually enjoy whole foods, so I focus on foods I love — berries, nuts, avocados, tempeh, quinoa, black beans, tropical fruits. Yum.
- I allowed myself to eat lots of refined carbs for my 50-mile ultra marathon. I think it was probably necessary, but I overdid it. My stomach didn’t feel great.
- There are sweeteners in more things than you’d probably guess. A few times I accidentally ate something that had some sweetener in it. I just shrugged and wrote it off to a learning experience. But it’s hidden everywhere!
- I cheated a couple other times. I had some fries once, and a couple bites of cookies a couple times. No biggie, but sometimes you just want a taste.
- My mind is really good at self-rationalization. Those 2-3 times when I cheated, I told myself things like “it’s OK, just this one time won’t hurt” and a bunch of other similar statements. If you aren’t aware that your mind is doing this, it’s really powerful. I didn’t notice it until afterwards, but when I can notice it as it’s happening, I can beat it.
- I eat less when I don’t eat refined carbs. It’s amazing how addicting sugar and flour can be — you start eating a bite, and before you know it you’ve eaten way too much. By focusing on whole foods, I just ate enough.
Overall, not one of my harder months. I’m planning on eating this way most of the time, with a few guilt-free bites here and there when the occasion arises (birthdays, etc.). I’ve learned that some sweets/flour are totally fine, as occasional treats, not as a main staple of my diet.