New year, new you: digital intentions from Good Burdens author Christina Crook

Posted on January 10, 2022 | By Ashley Fitzpatrick | 0 Comments

When Christina Crook began writing Good Burdens: How to Live Joyfully in the Digital Age, she thought about the executive burned out on constant hustle, the marketing director unable to sleep at night, the creative constantly producing and drained. Speaking recently with Atlantic Business Magazine, she offered a few ideas to help everyone avoid feeling overburdened by the daily grind.


Submitted photo.


Crook is also the author of The Joy of Missing Out (2015). She is a podcast host and an active speaker on the subject of finding joy through digital mindfulness. Her latest title was released in the final quarter of calendar 2021 from Halifax-based Nimbus Publishing.

On starting the new year off right, she gave two pieces of advice. First, she offered an exercise in mindfulness. She said ask yourself at the end of each day what you felt was the “most life taking.” Think about that in whatever way you might define it for yourself. Was there a particular conversation you found draining? An hour lost to an email exchange before you’d had a chance to start on any of your goals for the day? Once you settle on it, she added, then ask yourself what in your day was the “most life giving.”

“That’s going to bring an awareness of ‘I want to do more of that’. I think that is an amazing practice to begin at the beginning of a new year,” she said.

When you start to see those things taking away your time and capacity for creativity, caring and community, she suggested, you’ll start to see ways to improve your day-to-day.

The other, simple piece of advice? Ratchet down the constant sense of urgency. Find ways to delay the urgent, as strange as it might sound. As businesspeople, professionals, she said, the desire is to be proactive. You may be up early and into your emails or checking company social media accounts (if you’re responsible for them) before your first coffee. And that’s a great way for your day to go off the rails.

“If we begin the day in a reactive posture, just responding to other people’s demands on us, we’re not bringing our best into the world. It’s just not possible,” Crook said, urging people to also consider building a digital practice that reduces the constant push of “urgent” notices.


Christina Crook (Photo by Shannon Laliberte)


She suggested switching to checking your social media accounts as late as possible in your day. “It does seem more difficult to turn off the flow once you’ve opened it up,” she suggested. And, she added, you can limit the “tyranny of the urgent” throughout the day by shutting off notifications for news and social media apps on your devices, even limiting checks of your email to set times in the day, rather than constant pop-ups.

When you picture “happy people,” genuinely happy and not Facebook or Instagram happy, how do they use the internet?

Years ago, Crook took a month’s break from the internet and, added to thoughtful research and writing, wrote the Joy of Missing Out, after which the Toronto resident was referred to by Harper’s Bazaar as the “Marie Kondo of the digital age.” In her latest book, written with the onset of the pandemic, she references further readings, leaning on the work of technology philosopher Dr. Albert Borgmann and others in laying out a case against simply carrying on with every gadget and app without thought, wading through a world of “contextless content confetti.” She highlights the distortions of time and emotion possible with the worst of our digital platforms and promotes the idea of tools rather than a complete ecosystem online.

Good Burdens is a quick read that, particularly in print, offers time away from doom scrolling or any constant barrage of emails long enough for a deep breath and re-think of where we choose to place our daily efforts and why. It’s a ‘new year, new you’ book, the kind many people may have shied away from over the years and yet find refreshing now, complete with not-too-demanding activities, or “quests,” for a little thought to personal growth without added stress.

From those burned-out executives to the ragged rank and file, it can help differentiate those “good burdens” in your life—the efforts that return value and help you in being caring and connected in the long-run.

As a parting thought specific to work: “All of us need to work creatively and to do so we need uninterrupted, focused time. Time where we can enter into the joy of flow. And I think in that sense Good Burdens does speak to the ways we need to carve out analog time and analog spaces to do our best work,” Crook said.

About our Book Report series

In our Book Report web series, Atlantic Business Magazine highlights non-fiction focused on Atlantic Canada and Atlantic Canadians, produced by Atlantic Canadian publishers. These short pieces will offer details from upcoming business biographies, Q&As on new releases and, in some cases, fresh commentary from non-fiction authors on the subjects of their published works.

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