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.
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.
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…. 🙂