When I was studying yoga in graduate school, our teacher would ask us before each session to choose a seed word – a concept – to focus on during that particular session. You could choose balance, or strength, or grace, or breathing, or ease, or, well just about anything. During that session that would be the one thing we’d really work on keeping at the top of our minds. As it turns out, practicing something complex isn’t easy, but by focusing on one aspect of it, you can find a way of getting back to basics, of creating a simple goal, and of choosing a yardstick by which to measure your progress.
While living a digital life isn’t quite yoga, it is pretty complex, and the same idea of focusing on one thing at a time still applies. As we’re about to begin a new year, I thought it might be a good idea to suggest a few seed words or concepts with which to start your digital year. Take some time with the word (or words) that appeal to you, but also feel free to choose a new seed word, to make up your own, and to change your yardstick as often as you need during the upcoming year.
Kids learn by doing and by observation. What are your digital habits? Does your smart phone come out at the dinner table, or are you glued to Netflix all day and all night? It’s hard to limit your kids’ screen time or to ask them to not obsess over Minecraft when you’re modeling the very behavior you are asking them to avoid.
We have some friends who have started the habit of unplugging their televisions, routers, cellphones, and computers once a week for a whole day and having an enforced “Digital Sabbath.” While this may sound like crazy talk to you, sit with it for a while to see if you can find ways that you and your family can go off the grid in a temporary way. It may improve the rest of your digital hours as well as help you and your family forge deeper connections.
It’s a well-known fact that the best way to get more readers for your blog is to write more. The more you write, the more people read. If you’ve got a blog or other digital creative outlet (YouTube channel, Flickr stream, etc.), are there ways you can schedule yourself so that you are posting more? Can you guest blog on other people’s blogs? Can you find guest bloggers for your blog? Try using an editorial calendar to keep yourself on schedule (good for a blog, video blog, or anything!).
Have you changed your passwords recently? Are you using the same passwords on multiple websites? Are you giving up too much information about your comings and goings on social media? Have you taught your kids how to detect if something is SPAM or fake? How’s your backup system for your important data? Take a few minutes each day to let your inner paranoia be productive.
How much of what you are doing online is the same old stuff? Try something new. Choose different sites to read and quote from, write your emails in haiku, participate in a photo contest, or if you are feeling particularly adventurous, add to the limerick dictionary.
Whatever you choose to focus on, I wish you all a wonderful and productive end of the year, and an even better 2014.
Cover image courtesy of (and adapted from) Flickr.