I’m starting 2014 with the hardest month of my Year of Living Without so far: no Internet all day.

OK, let’s rephrase that — I’m not going to use the Internet all day, except to post stuff to my blogs/sites or for programming. And for an hour at 5pm each day.

That means from morning until 5pm, I can’t check email, read stuff online, do admin stuff for my business online, go to my bank websites, look stuff up.

To be clear, here are the only exceptions:

  • To look stuff up or read about programming. This is because I’m spending about half of each day in January to learn programming. I started learning before, but just a little each day, and it wasn’t enough to overcome the difficult stuff after you learn easy beginner stuff. Yes, I’ve done CodeAcademy and similar tutorials, but no, they don’t get you to the point where you can build stuff yourself. I’m going to build a web app in January using Javascript/JQuery/Node.js, and I’ll need to Google stuff to learn syntax and figure out problems and stuff. I’m also reading Eloquent Javascript and then will tackle Javascript: the Good Parts.
  • To post content online. This is basically to post a new article to Zen Habits, mnmlist, unschoolery, Sea Change and the like. I’m going to write it all offline, then go online for a minute just to post it. No checking email or Twitter.
  • For an hour at 5pm each day. I still have a business to run, so at 5pm I’ll process email as close to empty as possible, and take care of admin tasks.
  • For one live webinar. I plan to hold one live webinar on mindfulness for Sea Change.
  • Read 30 minutes each night. After my 5pm email/administrative session, I’ll give myself 30 minutes sometime later in the evening to read RSS feeds and saved long-form articles in Instapaper.

What will I be doing all day instead of using the Internet? Mostly these things:

  1. Meditating. Every morning, first thing.
  2. Learning Spanish. I’m spending about 30 minutes each morning studying Pimsleur Spanish.
  3. Programming. As mentioned, I’m going to spend about half a day every day learning Javascript and building a web app. The main purpose is to learn how to learn programming, so I can teach my kids. But also so I can build cool stuff.
  4. Writing. I’m going to write my blog posts and other content offline. I’ll also be working on my new print book, Zen Habits.
  5. Exercising. I’m planning to work out every weekday at noon.
  6. Spending time with family. Reading with my kids, playing with them, etc.
  7. Drinking tea. I’ve been having tea at 4pm with the kids.

I’ve modified my etc/hosts file to block my biggest online distractions.

I’ll report back to all of you at the beginning of next month — wish me luck!

Oh, and yes, I wrote this offline.

December: A Month Without Refined Carbs

In December, for my Year of Living Without I went most of the month without refined carbs. That means no sugar, white flour, white rice, white potatoes. It was mostly easy, as I’ve been eating this way for about 6 months (with some exceptions here and there).

Here’s what I learned:

  • It’s not that hard. I actually enjoy whole foods, so I focus on foods I love — berries, nuts, avocados, tempeh, quinoa, black beans, tropical fruits. Yum.
  • I allowed myself to eat lots of refined carbs for my 50-mile ultra marathon. I think it was probably necessary, but I overdid it. My stomach didn’t feel great.
  • There are sweeteners in more things than you’d probably guess. A few times I accidentally ate something that had some sweetener in it. I just shrugged and wrote it off to a learning experience. But it’s hidden everywhere!
  • I cheated a couple other times. I had some fries once, and a couple bites of cookies a couple times. No biggie, but sometimes you just want a taste.
  • My mind is really good at self-rationalization. Those 2-3 times when I cheated, I told myself things like “it’s OK, just this one time won’t hurt” and a bunch of other similar statements. If you aren’t aware that your mind is doing this, it’s really powerful. I didn’t notice it until afterwards, but when I can notice it as it’s happening, I can beat it.
  • I eat less when I don’t eat refined carbs. It’s amazing how addicting sugar and flour can be — you start eating a bite, and before you know it you’ve eaten way too much. By focusing on whole foods, I just ate enough.

Overall, not one of my harder months. I’m planning on eating this way most of the time, with a few guilt-free bites here and there when the occasion arises (birthdays, etc.). I’ve learned that some sweets/flour are totally fine, as occasional treats, not as a main staple of my diet.

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