Back in January I blogged how life on the internet was choking me. It was stifling my creativity and connection with real life. I vowed to ‘break up’ with life online indefinitely, but I also hinted I might pop back in with my progress.
Needless to say here I am. So what have I been up to? How successful have I been? I know this is the juicy stuff you want to know. You want to scream at me ‘Ha! I knew you’d be back’. And usually I would engage my defensive driving skills to justify my return. But you know what? The time away has changed me.
Firstly, I haven’t been totally ‘internet free’. I haven’t switched off all online communication in one fell swoop. The fact is whether we like it or not the internet is an important part of our world, and my world. During my semi-disconnection let’s call it, I have learned that it is possible to control how much time we spend online.
Now this may seem like an obvious thing, and for some an easy thing. For those who find it easy to balance online and offline I take my hats off to you. However, that is not to say that I am or have been ‘addicted’. I fell into the category that I think many online users fall into – distraction.
I was hugely distracted by Facebook, Twitter and blogs. During my time away I have realised that about ten percent of the time I spent online was actually worthwhile and beneficial. That leaves a huge 90% of time where I was simply wasting time. Time that could be better spent either using the internet in different more useful ways or engaging back into real life.
This clarity though isn’t all due to my higher level of thinking, no I can’t take all the credit. It is also due to the wise words from a couple of my favourite bloggers and writers. Allison Tait from Life In A Pink Fibro wrote an interesting post discussing whether or not she needs to ‘break up with Facebook’ and Kelly Exter over at A Life Less Frantic posed the question: Should Writers Have A Blog? Both of these women are wonderful writers and thinkers and the articles came at the perfect time for me to wrap up my thoughts and package them into a neat little box in my head. It all seemed to make sense now.
So what insights have I learned in a short couple of weeks?
I have learned that:
– Facebook is great for a drop in session. I drop in for about two or three minutes twice a day. I scan through my newsfeed for anything worthwhile (95% is just noise) and check a few of my favourite bloggers and authors pages for updates. Done!
– Twitter is great for networking and sharing my writing but really as much as I would like to use it to boost my profile it really does require some serious time networking. I have also found that Twitter has changed over the past few years and has become quite ‘cliquey’ which is for the moment deterring me.
– I don’t need to read a multitude of blogs. While it is nice to escape into someone else’s life, generally speaking I don’t need to know what xxx has been up to, how xxx’s kids are sleeping, or the latest success from xxx’s kitchen. Sure it is interesting but it is also a huge time suck.
– Narrowing my blog list down to a handful of knowledgable, likeminded and wise women, for me, is more beneficial. It has a positive effect, feeds my creativity and provokes my thinking more than a blog roll full of noise. Quality over quantity.
– By really focusing and making my time online accountable I allow myself freedom. The freedom to learn and grow both online and offline. My time on the internet is purposeful and I have more time to spend ‘present‘ in the real world. Present with my children, present in my business, present in my relationships.
And what about my writing?
Well, I would love to say I have been able to get down another 20,000 odd words on my fiction over the last few weeks, but I can’t. No excuses. I just haven’t done it. I have about 5,000 (hangs head in shame). But alas, the month is not yet over and I love a deadline!
So what does this all mean?
Oh the questions! I’m not sure. I hope it means that finally… maybe… perhaps… I have found ‘what works for me’. To be able to find a measurable balance between on and offline and be able to successfully achieve success in both is my ultimate goal.
It means that with clarity comes balance. A way to balance my online pursuits and writing goals at the same time while still being present and connected in real life. Well…maybe. I’m going with that for now anyway!
How do you balance your online and offline lives? Successfully?
Did you have a light-bulb moment of clarity?