Well, the four-day experiment of living life in the physical world is drawing to a close. Except for occasional glances at my e-mail, I stayed off the Internet from Thursday evening until now.
I won't lie to you, Friday morning was tough. I went to breakfast by myself, sans cell phone, and I felt positively twitchy. I hadn't realized how thoroughly my brain had become wired to constantly compose 140-character narrations of my every thought and activity.
Once I got home, I started looking around the house and discovering the ramifications of living life absorbed by a glowing screen.
First of all, every light fixture globe and candle holder in the entire house was fuzzy with dust. I took them all down and ran them through the dishwasher.
I thoroughly scrubbed the slate floor in the kitchen and hallway and let it dry overnight so I could seal it with semi-gloss acrylic. Man, was it overdue, but it looks amazing now.
Our shower was next on the agenda. It turns out that Tilex really works on mildewy grout...but you have to have an amazing capacity to hold your breath while you're spraying it. I liked the shower results so much, I bleached the bathroom floor with Tilex the following day. The grout hasn't been that white since the tile was newly laid.
I'd thought my dressing room wasn't too bad until I really started digging in. I had a ridiculous amount of junk mail stashed all over in bags and boxes. In fact, my gigantic recycling container is packed to the top with catalogs, envelopes and magazines.
Things I found in random locations while cleaning:
- My marriage certificate
- Almost a dozen cat toys of various sorts
- A good pair of sunglasses
- Photos from a camping trip I took in 2004
- Last year's end-of-season bill from our lawn guy, payment status unknown
- An envelope full of Brinks Home Security stickers (it was rebranded as Broadview Security in 2008)
- My Blockbuster video card from 1995
- Handfuls of hair ties and barrettes
- Two disposable cameras from 2005 and 2006
In going through all of the junk mail (and there was another cache of it from 2004/2005 in my office), I have learned that direct mail is completely wasted on me. I must have received 25 or more of the same credit card offer from Southwest Airlines in the past five years. I also had a zillion charity outreach mailings containing ugly address labels with coins glued inside the envelope. By the time I'd eviscerated all of the mail in the piles, I must have had close to a dollar from those mailings alone. I had never opened a single one of the envelopes until it came time to throw them away.
My office was the room that ultimately defeated me. I might have had a fighting chance to get it finished by the end of the weekend, but my husband and I took some time to have a couple of restaurant meals and even play miniature golf one afternoon. We also recorded a demo song with my band, hung out briefly with friends, and watched some DVDs that we need to return to the guy who lent them to us. We had a great time, but those activities ate up precious time that I could have spent cleaning.
The office is *this* close, though. Just a couple more hours and I'll have the last tub o' stuff unpacked and dealt with, and the piles of junk on my desk sorted and appropriately distributed.
One thing I can say for sure: I would never have gotten this much work done if I'd allowed myself access to the Internet this weekend. Every time I needed a little break, I just sat down and rested for a few minutes or played with the cats. If I'd gotten started scrolling through Facebook or reading my RSS feeds, I'd never have gotten back to work.
I think the key moving forward is going to be in limiting the times and duration of my web surfing. Instead of running upstairs to get online in the morning, I need to be putting on my sneakers and literally running out the door and down the street. When I get home, rather than checking my e-mail right away, I need to sort the snail mail and decide what goes in the recycle bin or shredder and what needs to be dealt with in some other way.
Can I do it? Well, let's hope so. At least now I know it can be done.