Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


Aiming for analogue - switching off my phone

ways to unwind

Do you remember the 1970s children's tv programme, Why Don't You?

The full title was Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead? and it encouraged children to do exactly that, take up hobbies, explore, move about a bit.

It was one of the few tv programmes my Dad approved of.

Recently the theme tune started to swim around in my head. "Whyyyyyy don't you Go! Go! Go!?" and I decided that it was a hint to do something about my Internet habit.

I have a tendency to be a workaholic - I always have been.

I easily become addicted to the idea of 'busyness' and to spend my evenings rabbit holing around the internet and not getting anything actually done.

I deny this, I proclaim that it is customer service or research or vitally important Facebook lives (on whatever I NEED to know this week to get my business to thrive).

I know that it is none of these things, it never has been.

Whatever it is has, however, got worse this year. My need to increase visitors to this website means that I am trying to learn completely new technical things around Search Engine Optimisation and Pinterest Algorithms and Instagram Stories and Stop Motion Animation and on and on and on.

At the moment I have a massive problem with feeling overwhelmed, and a big part of that is constant access to too many things, too many possibilities, too many options.

I decided to introduce a digital curfew. To switch my laptop and phone off when I sit down to eat at night and not to switch them back on until after breakfast the next day.

The idea is to spend more time unconnected to the Internet than I spend connected.

I am 11 days in.

The only important thing I have missed so far is a message from my eldest daughter. When I didn't answer within my usual 90 seconds she resent it to her sister who came and told me.

As long as I can't see my phone I don't think of it.

There have been a few 'I'll just google that' moments but they are getting fewer (and everyone else in the house still has their phone on so, if it is that essential, there tends to be someone else already typing in their query).

But the main difference has been focus.

I still work in the evenings, I love my work, but it is the kind of work that nurtures - reading, drawing, journalling - rather than the 'too many tabs open' work that depletes.

If I don't have a laptop switched on then I can't check emails or orders or Facebook messages. If I don't have my phone lit up next to me then I can't scroll Instagram or Pinterest.

It has been interesting watching what makes me crave that dopamine heavy refresh of the Facebook page.

It tends to be when whatever I am doing gets difficult. I can't get a flower to look like a flower, I'm struggling to understand a chapter of a book, I discover a mistake several rows back in my knitting.

I was using that online distraction to completely sabotage whatever it was I had decided to do.

I'm now realising that a lot of my stress, this constant feeling of low level panic that has tinged this year, has been coming from the way I used the Internet. My brain is busy with several things at once when I am online, a fidgety multi-tasking; refreshing, reloading, switching between tabs - using up and fragmenting my attention.

Now I am making an effort to relax into my analogue evenings (which still include Netflix so my definition is rather loose).

I seem to have a lot more time. I seem to have time to be in the garden and walk the dogs, time to visit friends and knit and read and still watch Homeland with a glass of wine at 9.

That refresh button has been eating my time. No wonder I never got everything on my 'to do' list done.

What is working for me (11 days in!)

  • Switching my phone and laptop off at a specific time - for me that is evening meal time which is a great divider between day and night.
  • Actually switching devices physically off - not relying on my willpower, as that is very weak.
  • Moving the laptop and phone to another room, out of sight.
  • Telling friends that I'm no longer contactable in the evenings so that they don't assume I am ignoring them.

I would love to know how you deal with overwhelm and phone addiction - please leave your tips in a comment.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to read this one too.

Tags: life

Comments: 2 (Add)

Kathy chappelle on April 2 2018 at 18:05

Facebook messenger pinging whilst I was out at a concert highlighted my need to slow down as well as many other signs... I felt quite panicked when it would ping, so I have removed myself from group chats. This has helped some and I mute my phone at night.
I am considering deleting Facebook and other social media... I'm not sure yet!
Glad to hear Jane that it is working so far for you.

Julie D on April 2 2018 at 18:41

Love this one Jane... Too much Internet can make me feel queasy... I agree that out of sight out of kind is a good approach x

Snapdragon social

Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here