Coffee heat rising

Blogging: It takes over your life

Do you believe there’s such a thing as an addiction to the Web? Personally, it’s the kind of nonsense I discount as pop-psych woo-woo. These folks, for example, claim Internet addiction is “a growing epidemic,” pretty alarming considering the whole concept stems from a satire. Dubious as the idea seems, sometimes I wonder. There’s no question I’m spending way too much time blogging and way too little time living real life.

It can’t all be blamed on blogging. About 99 percent of my work is done online, whether it’s editing or teaching. Last night I worked until 12:30 a.m. trying to finish the course prep for the English 101 class that starts next month. Got to bed around 1:00 and then, naturally, awoke at 5:30.

I’m getting fat because I’m not getting enough exercise, and I’m not getting enough exercise because I’m parked in front of the computer from dawn until the middle of the night. Day after day after day. To some extent that’s abetted by the heat: it’s just too darned hot to go out trotting around the park or the desert. But the truth is, this was going on a long time before summer arrived.

Normally I stumble into the office and start blogging the minute I roll out of the sack. This means starting some time between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m. Write from one to three hours. Then get up, feed the dog, feed myself, in summertime water the outdoor potted plants. Then it’s right straight back to the computer for editing, teaching tasks, Internet cruising, or more blogging. Stuck there till around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. Get up, grab a snack, sit back down in front of the computer. Come 8:00 or so, realize the dog hasn’t eaten. Feed the dog. Maybe grab another snack; rarely fix a real dinner. Back to the computer until I can’t hold my eyes open, a state that usually occurs around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.  Sometimes when I get up I’m so stiff from having sat in one position for so long, I can barely walk.

Socializing with my friend KJG for a day and a half, I learned that she spends most of her at-home time on her feet. Her house is spotless and her acre of land is immaculate because she’s busy attending to it. My house—the parts you can see around the clutter—is awash in dust and dog-hair dunes because I’m too preoccupied with the computer to clean, and my yard is overgrown and tired-looking because I never bother to trim the plants and my idea of weeding is dribbling a few drops of Round-up here and there.

This. has. gotta. stop.

As I reflected a while back, too much of my supposedly entrepreneurial time is being spent on highly unprofitable endeavors. The teaching makes the most consistent return on time invested, but it’s not returning much. Blogging? Today I made $3 and change; that works out to about a dollar an hour. Editing pays $30 to $60 an hour, but only when there’s some work coming in, which just now is not the case because I’ve been too busy sitting in front of the computer to market myself.

This morning I decided to get up and do something instead of padding into the office. Even though the four-hour nap (these cannot be called “a night’s sleep”) left me struggling to keep my eyes open, I started in on the neglected yardwork. Repotted the long-suffering hibiscus and lashed it to a standpipe so it won’t blow over in the next monsoon wind. Dragged a bunch of pots whose plants have fried in the heat back to the yard-gear storage. Dragged the hose to various plants. Stuck a number of succulent cuttings into the pockets of the murderous giant strawberry pot, probably to be pulled out soon by The Yanker, a curved-bill thrasher with a fetish for small, juicy plants. Washed down the deck, after a fashion.

Then it was back to work on the 101 class, whose “couple” of remaining small tasks expanded to fill all available space. Midafternoon, I fell asleep on the sofa and stayed out till 5:30. Back to the computer; remembered to feed the dog around 8:30. Finally finished—finished!—the course prep and got the entire, endlessly time-consuming BlackBoard lash-up ready to go.

So it is that I write this at 11:19 p.m.

It’s time to consider whether this blog should continue at all, and if so, in what form. Next semester is going to be hectic. Each of my classes is just eight weeks long, and so students will be turning in stuff in every class meeting. Even if I succeed in controlling the time spent reading student papers—which you can be sure I will not—the schedule does not lend itself to spending two, three, or more hours a day writing and cruising the Web.

One option is to demonetize the site, so it no longer feels like a job, and so it doesn’t really matter much whether something gets posted every day.

Another is to change my work habits so as to spend evenings sitting in a more comfortable chair in front of the TV and writing on a laptop, instead of in a bone-crushing desk chair in front of a desktop. This is how Funny started: it was an idle hobby to cut the boredom of the awful, violent and mind-numbing fodder that is prime-time television. After shifting the blog-writing time to early morning, I stopped watching television altogether (because I’m now working into the night, every evening).

And a third is to stop blogging altogether.

I’d be sorry to do that. Funny about Money has become part of my life (obviously) and part of my identity. But I’ve got to get up from in front of the computer. If I can’t find a way to do that in the very near future, some major changes will have to take place.

What do you do to keep this occupation, such as it is, from becoming a preoccupation?

18 thoughts on “Blogging: It takes over your life”

  1. I hear you, loud and clear. I try to write for one hour a day and then stop. Or set a timer for 30 minutes and work on each item on my to do list. Or have days where I can only check email and then turn off the computer. I think computing is an easy option for having fun instead of doing real work, it is for me, anyhow.

  2. I have struggled with this constantly for a year – how much time should I spend on something (blogging) which has started to feel like a job? First of all, I did quit pressuring myself to post. If I can’t come up with a post, I don’t sweat it. Second, monetizing is hard work and requires a lot of effort – so if you spend 3 hours on a blog per day, for example, and make $3, it is a horrible way to make money. You either need to start writing “best places to open a brokerage” accounts stuffed with affiliate links or stop worrying too much about the money part of blogging. Third, I don’t think there’s ever any sense in formally quitting writing on a blog, unless you just don’t want to pay hosting fees anymore. It’s perfectly OK to take a 3-month vacation. Sure, you’ll annoy some and disappoint others, but it’s your life, after all.

    I think most bloggers hit this mental point, though. The bloggers who seem to get through it are the ones who either (a) maniacally love writing or (b) successfully monetize to the point that it’s a good return on their time. If you don’t enjoy the writing (mainly the true “PF” stuff) and don’t make much money from blogging, it’s very, very, very hard to keep going after a year or two.

    So good luck with that 🙂

  3. Funny, I think you’re awesome and would hate to see you go. But, I agree, the way you’re doing things now is unsustainable. If I were you, I’d consider a couple of things. First, don’t feel obligated to post something every day. Yes, the hits and all that lag on the days you don’t post, but so what? Second, cut back on what you do write. What’s your average post size in word count and number of paragraphs? Try knocking off a paragraph here and 10-20% of your word count there. Third, write when you feel like writing. There are times when I don’t feel like writing, so I’ve learned not to force myself to do it. Other times, though, I’ll be on a creative tear, and I’ll churn out a few posts in a couple of hours time, and just queue them up to spread out over time, which takes the pressure off the next few days. I don’t know if all your posts are ‘real time’ but changing that philosophy might help you a lot, because after all, you’re not being productive when you are forcing yourself to do it.

    Exercise is tough. I know you have brutal heat, but what about mall walking or going to a park or something early in the day before the heat builds?

    We need a healthy and happy Funny!

  4. Funny

    You sound so overwhelmed . Please take care of yourself, even if it means temporarily putting your blog on hold. Nothing is worth your health and peace of mind.

    Bist wishes from Best Bun

  5. Maintaining you primary entrepreneurial engine is the most important task you have to accomplish each day.

    In your type of work (self-regulated), you HAVE to manage your time properly.

    This may sound obvious and patronizing, but you are rapidly depleting your most important asset – your health, which you will need for ANY of the entrepreneurial activities.

    You need:
    1. Exercise of some sort every day
    2. Nutritious meals on a regular schedule
    3. Sufficient sleep every night.

    People often give excuses for why they can’t do this, or that it doesn’t matter – they are WRONG.

  6. i have an hour in the evenings scheduled for blogging but i also have time scheduled for exercise and reading so that i don’t get totally preoccupied with blogging. if i want to blog more in what i’ve designated as “free time” that’s aokay but i’ve got to do something else with at least some of my time so i have something to blog about.

  7. If you think writing a blog is a waste of time, how about reading blogs — some days, one after another. I’ve had to declare a time-out. My bookmarks include an A list, a huge B list and a ‘reference’ list of blogs. I’ve cut back to the A-list, which includes yours, because I just enjoy reading it, seeing how another retirement-age woman makes it through. It’s funny and inspiring, and I’d hate to see it go. Since it’s not making you any money, I guess the question is, does it nourish *you*, provide something *you* need? Good luck with this; I hope you blog on, but certainly understand why you might not.

  8. I suggest–get your kitchen timer (or similar), set it for 10 minutes, and walk around your airconditioned house. Do that 3x/day and you will fell better. Your dog will think you’re crazy.

    Some of the instructors in my dept teach 5 sections of Freshman Comp–they don’t seem to be killing themselves. Why not get a syllabus from some of your colleagues? And ask them how they do the grading without driving themselves to exhaustion.

    I tend to work harder, not smarter, myself. It’s a constant struggle.

    And I second the comment–don’t read more than a few blogs. (As long as one of them is mine!)

  9. I feel like that sometimes. Most people do after a long time of blogging. Slow the hell down! There are times where you post almost double a normal 3 times a week pace.

    You clearly have a lot to say since none of the posts are garbage filler posts, but that doesn’t mean you should put pressure on yourself like this.

    At 20 bucks a week, remember this is a hobby. If running, fishing, following your fav. sport team, or knitting caused you this much stress you would quit!

    Dr. Evan says slow the F down lol

  10. Well, I for one would MISS your blog! I enjoy following your adventures and misadventures; your financial highs and lows; and love hearing how you are spending your “retirement”.

    I gotta agree thought – write less – maybe 3 days a week, and shorter posts. We probably could get by on a “diet” version of FAM, but would hate to lose you all together.

    Whatever you decide, you have to do what is best for you.

  11. I just wanted to say I love your blog and read it everyday. I would be sad to see you shut it down (I would hope maybe you could just post less often?) but I would understand. You need to pick priorities and make sure you are enjoying life. Good luck whatever you decide!

  12. Thanks to everyone for commenting! Yesterday the morning started with gardening instead of blogging (doesn’t seem to have “stuck” for 24 hours, though! ;-)). It made for a much better day; the “How has YOUR dollar done” post was written in the evening and done before the 10:00 p.m. Play-Nooz came on.

    That seems to suggest one solution is simply to reorder the things I do during the day.

    About monetizing: For some time I’ve been ruminating over the idea of selling paid guest posts, and of peddling text and banner ads to local advertisers. Phoenix has a number of PR and ad agencies — I figure to go door-to-door with a sales packet. It wouldn’t take many of those to create a steady income for FaM, especially if I can reserve some space for AdSense, too.

    @ Steve & Money Beagle: Unlikely that I’m going to start writing affiliate-clogged copy on topics like “Best Places to Open a Brokerage Account.” I find that kind of post boring to read, and trying to write it would make my eyes glaze over. As a practical matter, I do write what I like to write…which is one reason FaM has drifted away from frugality and personal finance. It’s losing focus and needs to be brought back in line with its original purpose, I suppose.

    @ Frugal: I do have a base syllabus, but of course it has to be adjusted each semester to take into account changing textbooks and new ideas. This semester I was handed an 8-week section, instead of the usual 16-weeker. This meant I had to rewrite the syllabus and assignments to accommodate the shorter period. I also learned, in the workshops for the magazine writing course, that it is a great deal easier to mount quizzes in BlackBoard through the Blog function, rather than the massively work-intensive Quiz function; this led me to expand the 101 students’ reading and create new tests to enforce it. Because I’ll have the poor little things for about three hours a day, I also wanted to get them into computer labs every day and make THEM work, basically doing most or all of their writing and bullshit assignments in class. This forced me to create new assignments or adapt old ones. It will keep me and my sidekick busy checking a great deal of drivel, but it also will keep the students honest (and very busy) for the short session. This summer the college paid me as much as it pays for an entire course to write the syllabus and mount the BlackBoard template for the magazine writing course; in return, they expected (of all the unreasonable things!) some actual work.

    @ Evan: Agreed…it’s pretty clear that, unless magically a lot more revenue suddenly materializes, this activity should be regarded as a hobby, not as an occupation. That thought supports the idea that it shouldn’t be done during the daytime hours at all: that it’s something to do after hours in front of the television set, like knitting or beading.

    Speaking of the which…LOL! It’s quarter after seven. I’ve been up since 5:00 a.m.; didn’t start with gardening because it was raining. Now the sun is peeking out. So it’s out into the sauna to trim a few tree branches.

    Yesterday I worked out some interesting calculations on the number of hours one could work at a community college course and still earn a fair hourly rate. I’ll try to share those with you this evening.

  13. I would not demonetize – you mean remove Adsense, correct? I agree with some of the others who say to slow down on your posts. While I look forward to reading you every day, many people blog read while at work, so Saturdays and Sundays tend to be low visitor days as a general rule. I would at least drop Saturday and Sunday if I were you. What I usually do is try to write and schedule four posts for the coming M-Th on my weekend. Since on those evenings having been gone all day at work I have no time to write blog posts. You are so prolific, you could do something like write one post every day for the first fourteen days of the month, then schedule then for every other day in the month. You’ll always continue to make some money off the blog, even if you never wrote for months, so I would not advise getting rid of Adsense. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. 🙂

  14. I’d miss you if you stopped blogging. And I think you have valuable insight into ‘real world brink of retirement, re-inventing one’s life’. Siince I’m in a nearly peer demographic (10 years or so out from ‘planned’ retirement), I’m following your journey avidly – though I don’t comment all that much.

    But if it’s not giving you joy, but instead feeling like a burden, then you need to back it down to a more acceptable level.

  15. FAM – I’d just tune it down and have fun! It doesn’t matter at all how often you write, provided it’s more than once every couple weeks.

    This is a hobby, have fun! launches Aug 16, feel free to vent there as well and share your thoughts!

  16. I think you’ve gotten great advice already. I have a demanding day job as well and do most of my writing on the weekend. i write 3 posts for during the week which are then scheduled and then the Sunday weekend round-up.

    If I have something to share other days I do that on Tuesday/Thursday but no pressure. It makes it a lot easier.

    Plus, when I go on vacation… I go on vacation and don’t worry about posts, etc. It needs to be fun.

    Whatever you do, please keep writing. We need your voice!

  17. NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just found your blog! Love your writing and hope you are able to continue on with a post here and there at least, but I also hope that how you spend your time, as related to your priorities, is balanced and fulfilling!

    Good luck and all the best to you! I will keep reading…

    • @ Holly: Thanks… Don’t worry; there’s no chance I’ll quit writing. Logorrhea has been part of my being since I was about six years old, when a teacher taught me to form letters, words, and sentences. 😉

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