Seeking Internet Sobriety

Businesswoman Surrounded by the Internet

So I took four days away from the Internet, peeps, although I’ll confess I didn’t achieve complete abstinence. I expected a few e-mail messages that were timely, so I checked that. I may have ventured into Twitter just to see if anyone talked about me (not really, sniff), but aside from that, I spent less than ten minutes on-line in the last four days.

What did I discover?

  1. 1.  I really needed that break. Really. Although self-inflicted, I’d gotten to the point where monitoring all the social media sites I participate in had become a job of its own. My fingers had become like the little girl’s feet in The Red Shoes fable — tap-tap-tapping away in joyless participation.
  2. Because my mind buzzed with externally derived ideas, I had no space for those of my own making. Now I realize I don’t have that many original thoughts, but the few I do are precious to me. In fact, I’d kinda like to capture them in writing, which leads to my next point…
  3. When I cut the electronic umbilical cord, almost instantly, my characters voices grew louder, I captured a plot bunny, and my word count improved.
  4. Mayhap it’s coincidence, but I read two novels in less than two days. Of more significance, I enjoyed them.

All this leads me to understand that I need to set more boundaries about my Internet use. Much as I realize I may be shooting myself in the foot by encouraging you all to be elsewhere, rather than here, reading my blog, I thought I’d share a few ideas about what I’m going to try. I’d love if you’d add to the list.

Ways to enhance productivity but maintain connectivity: 

  1. Write on paper and pen: Often my best words and ideas come before I’m in my office and when I go low-tech. I’m going to wake a little earlier to get a page or two in before I turn on the computer.
  2. Use time on the Internet as a reward for productivity in other arenas.
  3. Set a timer, so my Internet rewards don’t turn into the main event.
  4. Respect my peak writing times: This is a big one for me. I know there are times of the day my brain works at the level of original thought, and other times I’d be lucky to be able to edit so much as an apostrophe without effing it up. Unfortunately, I haven’t always set up my schedule to reflect my body’s requirements. I’m going to be more conscious about that.
  5. Consider having the ToolMaster unhook our modem during peak writing times: I can’t always go the low tech route, but whenever my writing gets stuck, it’s all-too-easy to distract myself with something connected to writing – although technically not writing – on-line. Even if I only take a two-minute break, it disrupts my train of thought. In this case, the damage to my progress far exceeds the quantity of time.
    I’ve tried purchasing software, such as Freedom, which uses a program to disable the modem for a specified period of time. Alas, through complete fluke, I’ve found how to defeat it with no inconvenience to myself. What will inconvenience me, however, is the need to go into the basement so I can determine how to compensate for a missing cable. That’s just more effort than I’m going to provide.
  6. Consider designating Saturdays as an off-line day. If all the above don’t prove fruitful, I’ll have to designate one day a week to reset my priorities. 

How about you? Any tips or techniques you’ve found to keep yourself firmly in the driver’s seat of Internet use?

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9 thoughts on “Seeking Internet Sobriety

  1. Well, notice I said “more or less unplugged.” I still get up everyday and check my email. This week, I wound up being on on Saturday but was off all Sunday evening to avoid Lost spoilers until the DVD comes out.

    It is tough because , for me, part of my work is online. I am editing and inputting blogs, getting files emailed to me to edit, etc. I can’t toally unplug or I wouldn’t get anything done.

    Unplugging the modem would not work for me emotionally either, as I would feel like I was being deprived and punished – big button for me. But I have set a kitchen timer and not turned the monitor back on until the timer dinged. And I am getting better at staying offline for longer periods. It’s like training for a marathon.

    For me, at least, self-control is better than being punished. That way, I can “prove” I don’t have a problem. Honest. I can quit anytime I want to. Sigh.

  2. As I wrote this post, it struck me how much the Internet is like food, especially for those of us who require it for business, education, or communication. Abstinence is not a real option, LOL.

    Like you, Glinda, there’s no way I could become completely unplugged for a prolonged period. It’s very much a matter of learning how to regulate use, and settings ourselves up to make the right choices in the moment.

  3. I usually take an internet break to write. I have a laptop that’s not connected and it’s my writing computer. I sit on that for an hour a day. Also, once a month, I take a weekend off. Definately a great thing to do.

  4. I do the majority of my writing pen and paper–I LOVE a spiral notebook with crisp, college-lined paper and a medium point blue pen. (no, not picky *shifty*) but I think that is GREAT to designate a time… is it maybe also possible to have one laptop in the house that ISN’T hooked up? I was recently on a business trip and too cheap to pay for internet in my room (I got free Wi-Fi in the DAYTIME at the conference, but not night) and found I got a reasonable amount of stuff done.

    I’m telling you though… pen and paper… in the bathtub. Because being naked is a bonus for those creative juices, I swear it.

    I left you a little award at my blog today…

    1. Hart, the bathtub writing cracked me up! Knew someone who decided she was going to be a writer. She would spend hours and hours naked in the tub, writing longhand. Only problem was, she and her husband lived in a one beathroom house. She couldn’t understand why he did “unsupportive” things like pounding on the door, wanting to know when she’d be out so he could use the bathroom. Last I heard, they’d gotten a divorce….

  5. LM Preston, have you determined your weekend off in advance, or do you wing it according to need?

    Hart, the naked part works for me in showers, but that and notepads don’t mix too well. For the moment, anyway, I’ve settled on 100-page Hilroy notebooks. At one point, I was a fountain pen girl.

    Re the award: I’m touched! Left you a comment.

  6. First off, Glinda — I had an easier time avoiding the Lost spoilers than I thought. I had to wait til last night to watch the finale when it was up on the website. I don’t have TV, so that’s how I’ve watched all the episodes. I thought I would mention it in case you didn’t want to wait for the DVDs to come out. 🙂

    Now that I’m home full-time I like to “get away” for at least a couple hours/day, and I take my notepad and pen and sit in a library, or a park, or whatever. I need the outside stimuli, and the change of venue sparks my creativity.

    And then when I come home it’s pretty exciting to check my mail and see SEVERAL emails all at once! It’s like I’ve been showered with presents!

  7. Donna, depending on the subjects of the e-mail, I either feel excited or dismayed. But yes, like you, I’d rather get a whole slug at once than have them dribble in.

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