We live in a hyper-connected world. Even when we don’t think we are overdoing it when it comes to checking email, hanging out on Facebook or admiring the pretty on Pinterest, chances are we don’t realize how much time we spend plugged in or how it affects the time that we aren’t plugged in.
In a recent survey conducted by Real Simple magazine …
- 76% of respondents say they check their smartphones at least once an hour. (of those, almost half sneak a peek every 15 minutes)
- 47% keep their smartphones next to their bed so they can check them first thing in the morning.
- People said this about social media: “Life is more robotic” “I’m unnecessarily informed about people I wouldn’t necessarily talk to” “I read fewer books”
If you aren’t sure how hyper-connectivity is affecting your life, try to remember the last conversation you had that wasn’t interrupted by a ding or a ring. Or, look around any restaurant, grocery store, or waiting room and see what percentage of people are looking into a screen.
Digital sabbaticals (24 hours or longer sans internet) are so important, but when you can’t unplug, consider Internet-lite.
A guide to Internet-lite holidays
This is the perfect time of year to practice being Internet-lite. You may discover that you enjoy it so much that you consider big changes with your digital habits.
Identify what lite means to you
If you check email every five minutes, internet-lite might mean checking email every 3 hours. Go as lite as you can without turning into the Grinch who stole Christmas. This will look different for everyone.
Let everyone know that you plan to go internet-lite for the holidays or for a certain amount of time. Share the days you’ll be spending more time in the real world on Facebook, at the dinner table, by the water cooler or anywhere people are that would care.
This will not only let people know what to expect, but it will give you a little extra accountability when you are tempted to check out and check in.
Assess your internet needs
Get out your calendar and to-do lists and write down what you need the internet for over the next 2 weeks. Keep a separate list for work needs and personal needs and keep those needs separate when you do go online.
If you need to check email for work, don’t use that as an excuse to get lost on Pinterest. If you need to Skype with family on Christmas day, don’t wander into work related tasks that can wait.
Do it now
Do what you can in advance so you can go even Internet-lite-er for a few days.
Write it down
Don’t create a document about going Internet-lite that requires opening your email to check. That’s a creative way to be un-lite. Instead, write down your Internet-lite commitments on a post-it and post it on your computer, iPad, iPhone or whatever keeps you connected most.
Volume up and power down
When your devices are silent and on, no one knows about a quick look but you. With that seemingly harmless glance or check, you give the world permission to invade your brain, thoughts, moods and actions.
Turn your volume way up before you power down.
Make your phone a phone
Phones may feel light, but they are anything but Internet-lite. Remove your social media apps. Turn off your notifications. Disconnect email.
Stop. Then wait.
Before you break your own rules to add a photo to Facebook, check tweets, pin pins or get lost in email, stop. Then wait 10 minutes. Usually if you stop, then wait, you’ll realize that it can wait.
Call a time out to asking other bloggers to promote your work or share your stuff. Instead, create something that people feel compelled to share.
If you take a break, the internet will still be there when you get back.
Write and schedule your blog posts in advance, but don’t auto-update all of your social media so it looks like you are there. Be lite and inspire others to be lite with a little quiet. It’s a noisy world. Say less and people will listen more. Nothing sucks the social out of social media faster than automation.
Just because you aren’t plugged in, doesn’t mean you can’t write and create. You will likely find that time away from the screen encourages better work. Keep a journal and write freely.
Use the end of the year to write thank you notes. Handwrite and mail them or write offline and send them all at once during one of your scheduled email sessions.
Use your time away to enjoy and engage in the life and people around you. You’ll get back to work soon enough and when you do, you’ll have beautiful experiences to write about.
Create an Internet-lite plan
Because Internet-lite looks different for everyone, there isn’t a cookie-cutter plan. Be honest when you identify your rabbit-hole triggers. If you check email first thing in the morning and don’t come up for air until lunch, commit to no email before 10am. If you spend valuable time on Facebook looking at pictures of your friend’s friend’s dog’s photo shoot with Santa, commit to no Facebook or Facebook only once a week.
Set the dates, invite your friends, and tell the world. Then, go out in the world and …
- be loved