For the last few years (or every other year), in the second half of the year,Β  a strange thing happens.

I go through a minor or quasi-major health setback. I’m not kidding.

In 2014 November, I went through iPad shoulder which caused me to take a complete break from blogging.

In August of 2016, I witnessed something that shook me to my core and plunged me into deep anxiety for six months afterwards.

In July 2018, I injured my wrist. Even the doctors are not sure what caused it although they suspect it was an extension of Repetitive stress injury.

And in August of 2019, I have been experiencing headaches and minor eye strain, possibly due to prolonged screen time (mostly on the laptop).

Now, there was one part of me that was getting more than mildly annoyed by these ‘series of unfortunate events’. Then there was the other, more practical me looking at all of them in a ‘big picture’ moment.

Almost every incident, though, has helped me towards an epiphany of sorts. (You can blame it on all the self-improvement books I read. No, really! πŸ˜‰ )

Things have changed from the time I started actively blogging in 2013. (Yes, I started blogging in 2007, but that was me, writing into the void without an audience).

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at screens. But it’s not just that. As I look back at the last 6 years of blogging, I also see the add-ons that have happened, as a consequence.

As of today, I have a presence on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I have another blog (my main blog), my e-mail newsletter and my contacts on Whatsapp.

When you add all that up, it is a LOT of time spent looking at screens. I am not blaming the technology; instead, I am just stating it as fact.

Between social media and my blog, I wind up spending more than 10 hours a day looking at screens. Which, come to think of it, is pretty intense. (And I’m not even counting the hours spent on the Kindle or watching TV)

Last week, when I realised this, I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture. What could I cut out of my day, to ensure I only use this to the most of my benefit?

That’s when I understood the power of our gifts and how we choose to use them.

If you were to ask me what gifts I had (in the blogging space), I’d say it’s the ability to engage with people online. And the ability to simplify something complex so more people can understand it.

I love engaging with my readers and followers, make no mistake about it. But I don’t have to do it every single day. There’s a reason we have rest days in a week. Time to put them to use.

Similarly, if I have to spend time on social media, I want to ensure it is for the right motives. Long-time friends of mine might have observed my unusual silence on platforms like Twitter and Facebook these days.

It’s for this reason: the time I spend there should be of value, both to those who follow me and for my own self.

I really don’t want this post to sound superior in any way and I hope it doesn’t. I just want you to consider why you are online and if you are using the time to your advantage.

And to examine if you are using your given gifts and talents, for the purpose that they exist.


19 thoughts on “Using the Gifts and Talents we are Given

  1. Yes, precisely this! Detoxification sums it up best πŸ™‚ Already feeling loads better. All that reduced screen time has definitely helped. Plus switching off devices by 10 pm and going to sleep!

  2. I love that rule πŸ™‚ Pleasure first, always. The minute things become a chore, that means we aren’t going to enjoy the fruits of our labour, come what may.

    Every experience and every day is a relearning experience. Always πŸ™‚

  3. Oh absolutely. No blame game at all. I am wholly responsible πŸ˜€

    Thanks Tulika. I am better already and all it took was being a bit more conscious of what I was doing with my screen time.

  4. Oh ho! Wonder what happened to the comment. πŸ™

    Yes, people won’t pay attention, that’s true. But a small fraction of them will think about it, hopefully. πŸ™‚

    I totally relate to that aberration bit. I am exactly the same. Some days I forget to check WA!

    Thanks so much for reading, Rachna πŸ™‚

  5. Every time I am here, I leave thinking there is so much to be aware and not get lost. What you said is right. We need to manage our time and see where we want to invest in.
    I hope you feel better, Shailaja. Hugs! We need to meet. Been so long.

  6. I am very sure that I left a comment here earlier but it is not visible. πŸ™ What you say makes a lot of sense, Shailaja, but I hardly see anyone paying much attention to it. Most people are always online either due to FOMO or because they feel that they are bored. I am somewhat of an aberration and an object of amusement among my friends who say that I am hardly ever on WA. When I fail to respond to so many forwards, that is considered snooty. But, that’s the way I am. Even workwise, it makes sense to take stock of how much time you spend online and why. Very pertinent post!

  7. You know what I love about this post? That instead of blaming social media, or the ‘necessity’ of screentime, or the new age which has made us dependent on technology, you take onus of it. And that is why you can control it because if you are part of the problem the solution can also come from you. The minute we blame our problem on an external factor we lose control and are forever stuck with it.
    I am so happy for you and glad you can put things in such clear perspective. Do take care of yourself.

  8. You know, I have been trying to increase my online presence because that seemed to be what everyone else was doing. But I just can’t, no matter how much I try. So now I am going back to my oldest rule – do as I please – which would take the pressure away and put the pleasure back in. These multiple screens and social media access are constantly giving us lessons on how to unlearn, relearn, and sometimes let it go every other day. Right?

  9. Ashvini, I’m so touched snd overwhelmed by your concern and you’re right. It’s probably dry eye syndrome. I stayed off screens for two days and the problem subsided!!

  10. Hey, Shailaja.

    I suspect it could be a casual dry eye symptom which is super common with people like us who have to stare at screens for long durations at a stretch. I was a de-facto coder after graduation much before blogging came calling. However, since blogging never insisted even a single moment of ‘boredom’ to drive my eyes away for a break, I ended up ogling at the screen, I don’t know, for how many hours together! I naturally ended up with extremely painful eyes (Nah! Not about my corneal abrasion episode that I once wrote about in a post)

    I began seeing double with the other eye while it became hard to hold on without blinking normally within a span of micro secs, may be. Just like one could have to see through glycerine-instilled eyes, or even tears.

    I was almost convinced that something severe might have happened to my eye (apart from the need to wear spects out of increased dioptres).

    Long story short, it came to me as DRY EYES with a slight increase in power. See, that’s what ‘uninterrupted’ laptop-time can do to our eyes.

    You’ve always been inspiring & validating whatever you do. Earlier I used to feel guilty about unfollowing or not choosing to ‘follow back’ accounts that followed me. As if it were customary in any way. But given how much clutter they cause to your feed & ultimately make you stay glued to see completely useless chatter/posts, the clean-up is so called for!

    And that’s why I’ve been on a spree of disconnecting from insignificant things & people online.

    Hope you get better & we all know how good you’re at your work, on break or not.

  11. Shailaja, so much wisdom in this post. These days I’m spending way too many hours in front of the screen as wellβ€” and some days I question if it is all worth it.

    It is taking me away from writing, which is my true calling.

  12. Hey sweetie, I am going to talk about your health a bit here. Are you doing any eye exercises? If not, then I would urge you to start today! Just simple ones really, and make sure to do the palming exercise every time you finish your work on a laptop. Just rub your palms together till you feel them warm and place them on your eyes for a count of 1 to 100. It gives a lot of relief to the stressed eyes. Also, exercise your wrists, elbows, and shoulders every day.
    I agree, using our time well when we have so many things demanding our attention can get difficult if we don’t plan things; if we don’t plan what to spend time on. It is something I learn every day when I find some or other part of my body complaining.

    Take care, babe!

  13. Oh absolutely well said! The other thing I believe is that break is necessary for us to take stock of where we are and how we want to get to our respective goals. Thanks, Raj. Scheduling an eye test soon to ensure it’s not something more severe.

  14. I have been giving this a lot of thought as well. Some times I think too much trying to find a purpose behind my online activities. I don’t post everyday and my other accounts are slowly becoming inactive. I guess it’s a phase most creative writers go through. A kind of detoxification to start anew. Hope you feel better soon.

  15. True, we need to use our talents and strengths constructively and in a way that satisfies us as well as help and support other people. And you are managing it all fabulously!!

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