I’m sure I’m not the only one out there feeling more than a little addicted to the internet, especially at this point in the year after a long, cold winter. For those of us at home with littles, we rarely have a long enough stretch of time by ourselves to delve into a serious project, a book, or even a phone conversation. For those who are working in front of the computer all day, we convince ourselves we need a break, and we browse the web or Facebook, instead of doing something more restorative like taking a walk.
The internet is always there for a thirty-second reprieve from drudgery. Often enough though, those thirty seconds stretch into thirty minutes or more, and a useful chunk of time is lost.
For many of us who work from home—whether full-time mothering, full time career-ing, or something in between—the internet offers a chance to check in with the outside world. A lot of us are lonely.
I was encouraged by Jennifer Fulwiler’s comment,
If you find yourself spending a lot of time ignoring the kids to stare at your smartphone, it’s probably because you desperately need breaks you’re not getting, and you’re clinging to these little virtual escapes.
Lately, I’m finding the best way to deal with my over-reliance on the internet—my addiction, if you will—is to be gentle on myself. I find that harnessing my own laziness (and cheapness) works better than beating myself up about wasted time, or drawing stringent restrictions on my computer time. I’m still at the beginning of the road to recovery, but here are some strategies that are working for me so far:
- Remove apps from your smartphone, or better yet . . .
- Use an old phone that won’t work with apps: I removed Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and WordPress from my phone. And at this point, my iPhone 4 won’t support the operating system required for many of those apps anyway. I still waste some time on my phone with email and some simpler apps. For the most part, though, if I want to go to the sites that I waste the most time on, I have to go to my laptop.
- Use a standing desk: I created a makeshift standing desk by putting a small table on top of my regular desk. Now, if I want to use my laptop, I have to do so standing up.
- Use an old computer: My current laptop’s battery lasts only a few minutes unplugged. So, if I’m tempted to bring the laptop to a chair—or, more dangerous yet, to my bed—I have to go through the hassle of reaching under the desk, unplugging it, detangling the cord, and then going through the same rigmarole to plug it back in. It’s an effective deterrent!
- Drastically cull your Facebook feed: After a two-year hiatus, I got back on Facebook. I didn’t unfriend anyone, but I “unfollowed” everyone except a few very close, mostly far-off, friends and relatives. I also turn off my news ticker. Basically I followed Kelly’s simple instructions on “How to Stop Hating Facebook,” which I highly recommend. Facebook is pretty boring now, and I rarely go to it!
I don’t think of myself as a really lazy person, but I’m surprised at how much less time I spend on the internet just by making it more difficult to do. I hope these ideas can help some of you reading this. And if you have other tips that work for you, please share!