Media Fast – Changing Habits

Matt | Media fast | Friday, February 13th, 2009

On the first day of Spring Festival, Jan26th, I decided to go on a media fast, to not watch any movies or TV for seven days, and I can happily say that I made it.  Yes, I know this fast is a bit lame compared with a no-food fast, but I’m working my way up to a no-food fast.

After I finished the 7 day fast, I was surprised and a little shocked at how easy it was. So I decided to try and push on to see if I could keep it up for 30 days (I’m working on 30 day goals this year taken from my favourite Net sources TheSimpleDollar, ZenHabits and 4HourWorkWeek).  Unfortunately around day 14 I popped in a movie during lunch and broke the fast.  My girlfriend told me I was greedy going for 30 days (hah)  Now I am around Day 19 (if I were still counting) and I can say that I am on my way to changing this habit.

Now if I put in a movie it is either as a reward, for say finishing 30 minutes of work, or as a distraction while I’m doing something else like cleaning.  But I am consciously aware at the deal I am making and the risk that I’ll waste more time by splitting my focus on two tasks.  I figure this conscious awareness and mental negotiation are steps in the right direction.

To be honest, the most difficult time for me was Day 2.  After that, I actually did not want to waste time watching DVDs or TV.  I felt great having freed up at least 2-3 hours per day.  I also felt calmer and more relaxed.  It was nice to call friends and family back in Canada and catch up.  It was nice to pick up a book at 9pm and read for an hour or so and then go to bed, instead of putting in a movie and then not getting to bed until past midnight.  It was nice to find my more natural sleep patterns as I get sleepy around 10pm.  The biggest gain for me was to feel a lot more peaceful.

Besides the gut-wrenching pain of getting over the Day 2 hurdle, the next most difficult time for me is when I first get home after work.  As my usual habit was to turn on the TV or put in a movie to have some background noise (as I live alone).  But now I put on music and it works too.

If you want to try a nice fast, try not watching TV or Movies for a week and see the impact it has on your life.

If you want to try a very difficult but amazing experience, try a complete media fast by turning off all media sources – no TV, movies, Internet (ex emails), music, books and or newspapers.   I did this a few years ago and this was an amazing and terrifying experience.  This is a great one if you like writing in a journal or blogging because it gives you hours and hours of time to think.  It is difficult though.

If anyone has any thoughts on fasts, especially no food ones, I’d love to hear about them.

Good luck in any habits you are trying to change in 2009.  If you need any tips or suggestions those three websites I mentioned earlier are great starting points.

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