You know what I love the MOST on earth?
The internet (we’re not talking living things, okay, don’t look at me like that).
I remember being eight and discovering it on my parents’ computer. I remember being fourteen and playing on “virtual stables” and really wanting to create my own. I remember being sixteen and opening my first blog ever after my cousin taught me html and css (I mainly wrote about how my Mum was TOTALLY not getting me and ruining my life one day at a time.). I remember staying up until 5am to talk with “strangers” on msn. I remember meeting there some of my best friends to this day.
I love the internet, ok. And along time, I’ve been able to be even more connected, all of the time! This felt awesome. My first smartphone felt like a gift from the Gods. Twitter, Facebook, and IcanHazCHeeseburger.com in my pocket! How awesome was that! Plus, let’s be honest, it really helped me getting more and more organised as I discovered new apps and websites that were so helpful in that regard.
The problem was that, I didn’t realize it until a few years ago, but as much as I love internet, it robbed my of my first love: reading books (not talking about living beings again). As I was so passionate about what was going on on the internet, I forgot about grabbing a good book and getting lost in the universe it offers. I went from “reading ALL of the time and yes trying to do it in class and getting punished for it” to “never opening up a book again when I have my phone/laptop at arm’s reach”. For a few years I just stopped reading.
And then I had to learn to let go of the internet for a few hours every day. Because I wanted to read again, because I was studying literature and needed to fall back in love with books, because I hated the way I couldn’t think of anything else, and mostly, because I felt it really took a toll on my productivity. I knew it was time for some solid detox from all of my devices. Here’s how I went about it, and what you can do if you feel trapped in the digital world too.
1. Turn off notifications
Are you sometimes working on an important project/studying really hard and then get distracted because someone tweeted you, liked one of your posts, or sent you an article they think you HAVE to read? Most of the time, we cave in and go have a look at the thing. And then, getting back to work and focus is hard and takes time. All that, just for a tweet. A tiny piece of information that could have waited for you to finish what you were doing.
Turn off your notifications. Social networks more than anything. Emails also, if you don’t have a job that compels you to answer right away. Just keep notifications from the apps that help you to get things done: for me, that’s just Wunderlist and Google Calendar.
2. Set a timer when you go online
This can be a bit tricky, but there are tools out there to help you out with this point. RescueTime is my personal favourite. I got one year for free thanks to the NaNoWriMo, and this little software is really amazing. You can decide which websites go into which category (work, research, social networks, leisure, shopping…) And then each week you get sent an overview of your time spent on your computer/phone.
My first e-mail was quite the eye-opener: I spent almost as much time working as I spent perusing twitter. I know, it was THAT bad. For your special tempting websites (mine’s twitter, of course) you can set timers that will tell you when you’ve spent your maximum allowed amount of time on a special website. RescueTime can also be used on your phone, so you won’t have any excuse left for being engrossed in the internet all day!
3. Log off from time to time
Once a week, I like to not turn on my computer and to let my phone have well-deserved free time. I usually put it in airplane mode and get on with my day as usual, doing real things in the real world. Not only I’m not missing out on anything (my number one fear when it comes to logging out!) but also I end up enjoying my other activites way more: who would have known that watching a movie without scrolling endlessly on twitter would be so much better, right?
4. When it starts eating your soul, just delete
I’m talking about all these useless apps we all have on our phones and bookmarked websites on our computers. Games, tv shows, new social networks with the same stuff as on every other social network out there: get rid of it, block it with an add-on, do whatever it takes but put it on the « forbidden » list. I know it’s hard, but sometimes it’s just the way to go! And nothing’s set in stone: if after a few weeks you feel like you could start using the app or whatever again, have a try and see how you fare. It’s all about trial and error!
What about you, do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to getting time off the internet? Tell me all about it!