I run around the circle of my suburban Southern Indiana subdivision, chased by the same exterior lamposts that are required to be uniform by the housing authority, The Whisperer in Darkness plays in my ears matching the slight pushing of the wind and I hear talk of the Elder Beings and John Dee and the Babylon Working. The Department of Works and all of that.
It is just after 5am.
I’ve been really enjoying Julian Simpson’s adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and its sequel, The Whisperer in Darkness. More so, I’ve been all over Simpson’s excellent newsletter and blog, INFODUMP. In this article he talks about analogue day:
Analogue Day. This is a new thing we’re doing at home and I want to take credit for inventing it but I probably didn’t. Or maybe I did! Quote me in your correspondence and we’ll make it The Simpson Method. Anyway, it’s exactly what it sounds like; turn off the computer and the iPad and put the phone in another room as far as that is possible. One day a week where you write longhand, read actual physical books and magazines, talk to people and all that touchy feely stuff. When you make things up for a living, you are constantly drawing on a well of ideas and inspiration and that well is finite. You need to refill it regularly. And you don’t do that online. Or if you do, you can do it the other six days of the week. Analogue Day is about changing pace and changing input, grabbing a book off the shelf rather than scrolling Facebook, listening to stuff, watching stuff (I don’t ban myself from movies and TV on analogue day, but there’s no dicking around online whilst half-watching something). One day a week and it REALLY pays dividends creatively. Personally, I have a bunch of magazine subscriptions that build into a pile on the table throughout the week so I take this day to go through them. Then I might scan the bookshelves for something I’d forgotten I had and start reading it. It’s all about new things and unexpected creative prompts and I’ve found it to be enormously helpful and also, which seems to be anathema to the productivity nerds, fun.
It is basically a moratorium on screens. I tried this to a certain extent, but I’m still mostly failing at it. Saturdays are the days for that and basically the idea is to use whatever technology I am using for a singular purpose. Smart phones as Steve Jobs originally intended it: for communication, and audio. Reading physical books (which I do basically every day), working on something household-related which can be as simple as taking down the Christmas tree or like last couple of weeks, installing new light fixtures in the house.
I haven’t been perfect about this. I still take a lot of photos on my phone and spend entirely too much time on Instagram. What it boils down to is I just need to delete the social media apps on my phone and use it specifically for communication and audio, because my son likes audio books before bed time and I’m not about to shake up because that’s the critical piece that’s taken three months to whittle bed time from an hour and a half to a half hour. But I have gotten quite good about there being no screens or multi-tasking devices from 5pm to 8pm all week, but in 2020 I’m going to limit my phone time to business hours and after bedtime. The phone time will be for at most an hour, and only to talk to people. On the weekends, no screen time other than communication and audio.
That said, if you’re interested in something like this, you should check out Cal Newport’s Analog January Challenge.