Andrew White

A depth (school) year

I have recently become frustrated with a lot of things: the internet, how I spend my downtime, clutter, finances, a lackadaisical approach to my health, a lack of focus. I’ve decided that I need to do a bit of a reset. In part, this will amount to a depth year (or depth academic year, in my case, as I’ve started it along with my daughter’s school year). I’m also looking to start some new, positive habits. I thought I’d break things down here; you can see my professional intentions over on my other site.


The problem

Basically I fritter it away. I spend too much time on skimming tech news, political hate clicks, vapid and repetitive self-help articles (hello, Medium!), puttering around the house, and other things that feel like doing something of value. They are of little-to-no value. I truly believe that time might be better spent reading light fiction, playing a game, or watching movies. These things are not stressful, as the web so often is, and can be restorative.

The solution

  • I thought about blocking stuff online with a hosts file or proxy like pi-hole, but these are too fiddly, and not great for phones. So I got a year of Freedom
  • I am always going to have a book or a comic on the go, and I am always going to have them on me. I was just loaned an old Kindle, and I have a Kobo, so this should make things simple. I’m also going to start gaming on my phone again. Always have a good alternative to the noise
  • I am unsubscribing from stuff like crazy, although I’m tracking what I’m unsubscribing in case I really miss. I am also unfollowing people on Twitter, because there’s actually value on that site if you ruthlessly edit


The problem

We made a big transit-Atlantic move at the beginning of the year. We sold or got rid of a tonne of stuff, and left quite a few things behind (because we totally did not understand how much we actually could have fit in our shipping container). We had to do a bit of rebuying to fill in some blanks. Once you get into the acquisitive headspace, it becomes self-perpetuating, and the solution to any problem becomes “find a thing on Amazon that does it. Digital clutter is also an issue. I have more books, games, apps, comics, albums, subscriptions, domain names, than I can make use of in the next decade.

The solution

  • Unsubscribing helps, here. If I don’t see the ads, then I won’t be tempted. This is mostly about software and game bundles
  • Anything physical I need to buy goes into a spreadsheet, and I revisit it after two weeks to see if I still need it
  • I’m going to keep working on moving stuff out of the house (in addition to not bringing things we need, we brought stuff we didn’t. Oxfam and the Sally Ann have received many a box/bag)

I’ll address more stuff in a forthcoming post.