When I first started blogging in January, I had a sneaky suspicion that this blog might become a bit of an obsession. Here’s what I wrote then: “But now, finally, in 2006, I am ready to turn my life over to the blog. I hope it doesn’t eat my wife and son, chew through my assorted leisure activities, and gnaw on my dreams at night.”
After a few months on the job, I can report that blogging does indeed interfere with my sleep patterns occasionally — though I haven’t seen the Movable Type blog software in my dreams…not yet. I wouldn’t say that the blog has eaten up my wife and son or any of my leisure activities, but I would say that it’s hard to stay away for a long period of time.
Whenever I’m near my home office computer, I’m very tempted to check in, check email messages or log onto Movable Type to see if anyone has left a comment. And I can’t imagine being on my computer to do other work or communicate with family and friends without making that quick check-in. The convenience of blogging software being at my fingertips wherever I may go (at least where there’s an Internet connection) cuts both ways — it’s conveniently always there to feed my obsession.
If I’m at a friend’s house, the temptation is there, too. “Uh, can I get on your computer for a minute just to check my blog?” Or on the road, I could open my laptop in an airport terminal for a quick check-in.
Now, in some ways, I should be obsessed with my blog to some extent. Unlike the vast majority of bloggers, I am actually being paid to blog as a job, and I’m the sole watcher and editor of comments posted to my blog. So I should check in to make sure spam messages haven’t been posted (as they were so inconveniently last Friday night), or that personal attacks haven’t broken out all over. But every hour? Every few hours? When do I get a break?
I was curious what other bloggers might think, so I pinged Kevin Drum, another paid-to-blog guy who writes the liberal Political Animal blog for the Washington Monthly. My question was simple: How do you keep your blog from taking over your life?
Here’s what Kevin said by reply via email:
I don’t! However, since it’s my full-time job, I have less incentive than most to worry about this. My short answer is: get out of the house. This may just be me, but when I’m in the house, even if I’m doing something else, the computer is always beckoning. After a few minutes I get itchy. Any new email? Has any news broken? Did someone post something interesting in the past few minutes?
But if I’m out of the house, I usually forget about the blog completely. I don’t even think about it until I step in from the garage, at which point I suddenly feel a deep urge to make a beeline for the computer. Alternatively, I guess I could just turn off the computer now and then. But that seems rather drastic, doesn’t it?
OK, simple advice. Get out of the house, get away from computers, and try the “out of sight, out of mind” approach. But what happens if you have a Treo or other connected handheld device where you could easily check email or blog comments at any time?
“I am completely electronics free when I leave the house,” Drum says. “I don’t even take a cell phone unless I have some special reason to think I might need it…It definitely allows me to keep my mind off the e-world and on whatever I happen to be doing in real life.”
It seems like the electronics and online world are encroaching on all our previously quiet moments, so consciously disconnecting will become a necessity to keep our sanity.
If you write a blog, what do you do to keep from obsessing over it? How do you delineate blog time from real down time? If you don’t write a blog, what other online obsessions do you have, and how do you break them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.