Input vs. output

All members of the Walker Four are now equipped with iPhones — Eric finally broke. The best part was seeing Johanna’s face when we gave her that box because it wasn’t even remotely on her radar. Abby immediately set up group chat threads. Eric immediately started complaining about all the notifications received from said group chat threads. πŸ˜‰

It’s funny how, being without a smart phone for literally years, we have all quickly adapted to the new technology.

Driving around and need directions? Siri can help with that!

Bored in the waiting room and wanting to kill some time? Word games!

Funny thing happening at home that Abby needs to know about? Snapchat!

But I’m old enough to remember a time when phones were connected to the wall and you actually had to be home to answer — no call waiting, no message service. You had to sit there and talk because the cord only allowed you to go so far.

I’m also old enough to remember a time when we would actually pay attention to the people around us. Get this: We would eat a meal or play a game or just have a conversation and that was ALL WE WERE DOING.

I know, crazy. Even crazier? We could work on a project and not be interrupted by bells and whistles and our own sense of boredom. We could focus.

I can no longer focus.

Looking at myself here, I’ve been thinking a lot about input — what I take in — vs. output — what I create. The cards are stacked in favor of input. I spend an awful lot of time just cruising around news apps, Twitter, Instagram, playing word games and checking out daily featured apps, and at the end of those countless hours, I can’t even remember what I’ve read or learned.

Probably because I’ve learned nothing. Or at least nothing worth retaining. But I have managed to get myself worked up over some stupid something that I have zero control over.

Why do I do that to myself?

What if I focused on output instead?

It’s an interesting concept: Create more than you consume. Is that even possible? I have no idea, but my September goal is to find out.

I’ve broken it down like this:

Input that makes me feel bad about myself

  • Twitter
  • Facebook (especially our newspaper page because the comments are generally terrible)
  • Unfiltered news pages that are more entertainment and shock value than actual news
  • Unfocused scrolling time
  • Playing games

Input that I enjoy and value

  • Books
  • Snapchat because it’s Abby’s primary method of communicating
  • FaceTime conversations because ditto
  • Reading blogs and real newspapers (aka papers, not screens)

Output that I enjoy

  • Journaling
  • Blogging
  • Working on my 365 project, which is basically a memory a day for a year … that I’ve been working on for like five years because sometimes I don’t want to remember
  • Working on The Simple Year draft
  • Writing news stories for work
  • Cooking (hashtag question mark because I’m kind of over cooking but also I like to eat)
  • Conversations and time with Johanna and Eric
  • Decluttering and cleaning (well, when it’s over and I can see progress)

Possibly I’ll add to these lists as the month goes on. It strikes me as ironic that I KNOW the inputs that make me feel like a terrible person and waste all my time and keep me from doing the things I actually value, but I DO THOSE THINGS ANYWAY.

On purpose.

I choose that.

Output makes me feel less scattered and more focused. I feel more grounded. I am calmer because I can release pent up thoughts and emotions when I’m able to be creative — I can let go. I am able to detach from what really doesn’t need my bandwidth. And I feel more gratitude and less … like I’m being put out, put upon, asked to give up too much mental and physical space.

Input that I enjoy — the books and coffee and blogs (like those by our friends Chris N and SarahN) seems to produce those same outcomes / feelings of wellbeing / sense of connectedness. Input that is just noise does the opposite.

Well, I’ve journaled about this and said it out loud on the blog, so I guess I have to do it.

Wish me luck.

And tell me your experiences or thoughts.

11 thoughts on “Input vs. output

  1. Roberta says:

    Pinterest. I feel terrible when I spend time on Pinterest. Somehow my feed has become clogged with jokes I find offensive (?why are they doing this to me?) and info on how sexism and racism are terrible. Interspersed with zero-waste Christmas gift ideas. Why do I do this to myself? But then I find myself back there, daily, looking for a recipe or gift idea. (Yes, I’m that person, who starts planning in August. I have gifts tucked away already, since April or May.)

    I love the idea of increasing outputs compared to inputs. I’m going to add “browsing Pinterest” (instead of “searching for something specific on Pinterest”) to my do-not-do list this month, and see how that makes a difference.

    I’ll be there with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Diane says:

    I am not on any social media sites: I was on FB but deactivated it last spring. I drive my DH crazy because I rarely open my mail or answer the phone unless it’s one of my kids or grandkids. I don’t even open emails half the time. Neither my husband nor my friends understand my complete lack of curiosity about who is phoning/mailing etc. They cannot comprehend that I really am pretty eremitic – I tell them to think of me as living in a deserted Newfoundland outport with no communication service whatsoever. I don’t even want to read/listen to the news anymore.

    I think part of this stems from my anxiety disorder. The outside world makes me very nervous if it involves other people. If it’s just Mother Nature I am fine. I remember taking the kids camping by myself when they were little and friends asking if I wasn’t scared of bears or coyotes or other wildlife. I replied that I am far more afraid of people than I am of “wild beasts”.

    Occasionally I will waste time mindlessly scrolling through websites but my phone battery is so old that it loses the charge fairly quickly and, therefore, I have pretty much stopped doing that, I am too lazy and impatient to fire up the computer and the ancient iPad will only show UTube videos. If I ask it to do anything else it thinks it has to constantly reload the web page.

    TBH, it’s probably laziness, outdated devices and my aversion to people that are the reasons I don’t waste a lot of time on “useless input” rather than any discipline on my part.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trisha Walker says:

      Oh my gosh, that’s AWESOME. Sound like you have boundaries that work — and I mean, they’re probably healthier than what the rest of us are doing. (Or, looking at myself … I’m on vacation and just checked my work email. WHY.)

      WWDD? (What would Diane do?) That’s going to be my motto for September. πŸ™‚ I want to go back to Trisha pre-1995.


  3. Jenni says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with email, some emails I enjoy (like this blog) but other emails are obligatory and I have to sign every petition of course to try and help the world. I don’t want to be tied to checking email. I only use FB or Pinterest and Instagram occasionally mainly because I like to look at the posts (when I am procrastinating about something else) but I don’t post nor do I really know how to use any of these things properly. My worst waste of time is watching the home renovation shows on TV. Completely pointless. I’m lucky I have no memory left on my iphone to have any apps to distract me. I can empathise with Diane, as much as I think the internet is brilliant I also really miss the pre internet days.


    • Trisha Walker says:

      Oh, television — yeah, I can see that. We don’t have cable but we do have Netflix, mainly because that’s how Abby unwinds. This summer she had the TV on all the time and it drove me nuts, although I tried to remind myself it was opportunity cost for having her home.

      I miss pre-internet days too.


  4. Chris N says:

    I look at FB at least once maybe twice a day. I don’t stay on very long, maybe 15 minutes. I look at you tube some for a few people I like but other than that I don’t use use any other social media. I read the Washington Post on line because I think it is important to get news and not ignore what is going on in the world. I don’t have TV news so that is easy. I’ve stopped reading so many blogs, not sure why. I do enjoy reading about the mundane and daily lives of people especially as I am anti- social to some degree. Mostly an introvert so I don’t go out to any social events unless absolutely necessary. Even then, it’s a challenge. But I do like going and sitting in Starbucks or our local coffee shop and watching people.( weird???). I think my blog is my social outlet. I like writing stuff and it helps me process thing. Well, I’m with you on input/output!!


    • Trisha Walker says:

      Ha ha, that’s me on Facebook: Drive by to make sure the comments on our newspaper page are appropriate and then get the hell outta there. πŸ˜‰ I LOVE sitting in coffee shops and writing — it’s like, all of the people without having to actually deal with people. I get ya, fellow introvert!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. sarahn says:

    Oh thank you for the mention!! I actually did a lot of ‘output’ in my estimations, today. I went to the gym, then church, then home to make a sweet and a savoury dish (it’s fathers day here). I feel so much more grounded than I did yesterday evening – combining first three days at work and a lot of social activities from Thursday through to Saturday (which is great, cause my new industry is a bit strange and so I needed company I think).

    I find it odd that I don’t find Facebook a ‘bad’ input – perhaps I have made my echo chamber just so nice? Who knows…!


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