Strategies for staying off the internet

Here are two houses: our holiday rental in Portugal and our home in the UK:

Q. Apart from the weather, what else was different about my holiday in Portugal earlier this year?
A. There was no wifi at the house.

In the end, I decided that I like the internet and I felt cut off without it but the days seemed so much longer and I got a lot more done when I wasn’t regularly checking my blog stats or social media updates.

So there are three things I’ve done since I’ve been back, in an attempt to manage my internet distractions and improve my general productivity.

  • No wifi in my bedroom.

Bedroom 2015

No mobile-phones, connected laptops or tablet devices allowed.  My bedroom is an internet-free zone.  This means that I read and write last thing at night and first thing in the morning, rather than browsing on the internet.  Writing first thing has been really valuable to me and I’ve made headway with drafts of poems that have been hanging around, unfinished, for months.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m relaxed, fully rested, or not completely awake, but early mornings are a good time for my creative process.  As for reading last thing, not surprisingly this is very soothing and I’m sleeping better.  I’m also reading more – it’s like having an extra hour in my day.

I also like to be in my bedroom at other times – not for an afternoon nap (the rug on my living room floor is cosy enough for that!) – but because this is a comfortable, restful, quiet and distraction-free space.  Sometimes this bedroom is the quietest spot in our house.  And because I mostly write by hand, particularly early drafts, I don’t need to be at a desk.

Something else I’ve been trying to do is to

  • Keep my mobile phone in one place.

The temptation to check for messages, or to check into social media sites, is too great.  I need to be able to hear the phone in case of an emergency but I don’t need to see who’s retweeted or liked my status every few minutes.  Of course, I could remove social media sites from my phone  (I have taken Facebook off) but this wouldn’t suit me, particularly when I’m travelling.  So, if I’m working from home, I keep my phone in a separate room.  That way, when I get stuck during writing, I often work out a solution that doesn’t involve the internet and quickly get back on track.   If I really need to look something up, the internet is there for me but I’m not chained to it.

Finally, the other change I’ve made to my routine is to

  • Use a timer.

Timer

When I want to check in to social media sites for updates, chat, catch-ups, fun, etc., I set the timer on my mobile phone.  This means I can enjoy 10 – 15 minutes guilt-free, and I no longer experience the phenomena of a whole morning or afternoon (or worse!) passing with very little done.

So, not exactly worthy of a TED Talk but, nevertheless, three little habits which are making my life happier and more efficient.

Is it just me or do you also have trouble managing your distractions?  What are your tips?  If there’s anything you’d like to share, do leave a comment below.  That’s if you can find your phone….. and don’t forget to set the timer…. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Strategies for staying off the internet

  1. Meda says:

    I’ve wondered if I should have a second laptop without internet so that when I am writing, I am not interrupted or tempted to interrupt myself, or at least if I am choosing to do internet things, it is an entirely conscious choice and not something that I slip over into without thinking. I do find last thing at night and first thing in the morning fruitful times for writing — maybe because we’ve stopped our bodies and our brains are moving just around the edges of consciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Teresa Stenson says:

      Hi Meda – I just mentioned in my comment below a software package I use called ‘Freedom’ – it shuts the internet off on your computer for however long you want – at $10 it’d be cheaper than buying a separate non-internet one 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Meda says:

        Josephine and Teresa,
        Thank you both. I am due a new laptop. I normally give away the old one, but I am thinking of keeping it; otherwise as you both said, two laptops would not be an affordable option. I’m still relatively new to social media and learning how to appreciate the blessings of it without allowing it to take up more time than I mean it to take! (I would now insert a smile but do not know how to do that, so I will trust you to accept that I am smiling all the same.) Goodnight to you both.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Teresa Stenson says:

    Hi Jospephine – really interesting and useful post. I battle with all this too, and I think you’re on the right path by making these small changes which are obviously having a great effect.

    I went through a phase of not checking FB emails etc until I’d written what I wanted to write for that day, but I’ve slipped out the habit again. Or into the habit… I try to be mindful with internet use, but often need a nudge. This post is a good nudge!

    Have you heard of ‘Freedom’? A software package, costs about $10, you download it onto your computer and it lets you shut off the internet for periods of time. I use that on writing days, or when I feel that fuggy feeling of too much browsing.

    I often wonder about how all these new ways of connecting and receiving information, how they’re affecting us, our attention spans, how we’re hardly ever just quiet. I meditate and that helps still the mind, but it takes practice. We always have something, some device, at arm’s length to reach for. Good idea with the phone in another room. I’ve resisted getting a smart phone, but my MacBook Air is always at arm’s length when I’m at home.

    Hm, yep – all food for thought! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. socialbridge says:

    Thanks for a post so close to my heart.
    Having left FB a year or so ago,
    pretty much handed mobile phone over to son, not replaced laptop and not done a lot to speed up PC, I find Im spending less and less time on social media and not missing it either.
    Writing with pencil and jotter seems to work perfectly well. Oh, and also scheduling main body of blogs I follow to arrive by email on Monday mornings, so that means devoting specific time to commenting rather than logging on to do it whenever the mood takes me. Clearly, a lot of posts and blogs missed but that could be endless too.
    Twitter only for occasional use now as well.
    Life is too short to live on a timeline!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Jean, I’m feeling the brevity of life at the moment! Maybe the shortening days, my increasing number of birthday cake candles…. who knows? Yes, it’s the aimless browsing that wastes too much time, and is to be avoided. All power to your pencil and thanks for commenting! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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