It’s been three weeks since I wrote the Internet a letter about setting boundaries in our relationship. How’s it going? Have I managed to stay out of the Internet’s pants during working hours? Well, mostly, but it hasn’t been easy. The Internet is still pretty clingy, whispering to me constantly as I’m trying to write, seducing me with promises of kitten videos and spring weather forecasts (the last one a cruel trick – spring still has not come to Toronto, no matter how many times I check The Weather Network). But here are 7 tricks I’ve learned that help me resist the Internet’s charms…
1) Make time for the Internet. After all, you haven’t broken up! You may need time apart, but you still need time together! The best time for the Internet and me to hang out is morning. My brain does not focus in the AM, and if I’m not on the Internet, I’d just be staring at the wall daydreaming instead of writing, so I might as well cuddle with the Internet instead. Likewise, I used to think I needed a mid-afternoon break during which I’d rendez-vous with the Internet, but at that time my brain is awake and on a writing roll, so I no longer schedule Internet time in the afternoon.
2) Unsubscribe to newsletters. Embarrassingly, 75% of my emails came from newsletters, either blogs I followed or stores I liked or political action committees. They flooded my Inbox, demanding to be read, always tempting me back to the Internet just in case one of these “new messages” was an actual message from work or a friend. So I cut the clutter and hit “unsubscribe.” Now I no longer waste hours reading, sorting and deleting these emails.
3) Hootsuite/Tweetdeck your Twitter. Alas, I haven’t done this myself, but I am told that these apps sort one’s Twitter feed into something more manageable and therefore less time-consuming. I will report back on this when I finally try these apps out.
4) Trust Facebook’s algorithms. The Internet got me hooked on Facebook to the point where I was checking it a dozen times a day. Hell, maybe more. But now that I only check in once a day, know what I’ve noticed? Facebook really does put all the important stuff at the top of your feed – the people I interact with most, the statuses that get the most comments, the links that get more shares, etc. Unlike Twitter, I don’t have to be online when something is posted to see it. Nope, Facebook makes sure I see it anyway. Trust the algorithm! No more FOMO!
5) Remove the smartphone from your workspace. This is huge for me. I’ll shut down my Internet browser, but if my phone is near me, the temptation to pick it up and check my email/Facebook/Twitter is too great… and suddenly half an hour is wasted! Bad writer! Now I leave my phone in another room, far out of reach.
6) Write something you love. Sure, we’re all writing because we love it, though that doesn’t keep us off the Internet. But do you have moments when you’re so excited about a story that you just write and write and write and totally forget to check your email/Facebook/Twitter? I get those sometimes. But now, if I find myself jonesing for the Internet, I don’t give in and let myself have a Facebook break. Instead, I take a harder look at my story. Do I not love it? Is it not the most exciting, compelling, desirable thing in the world to me? If not, how can I make it so? After all, it’s competing with the Internet and trillions of other books! I’d better love my story so much that neither I nor the reader even thinks about leaving it for the Internet!
7) Get over your FOMO. All of us, not just the young’uns, have a fear of missing out. Whether it’s a friend’s Facebook status announcement, or a tweet that takes the interwebs by storm, or an article everyone’s talking about, or news about something important, no one wants to miss anything. But keeping up with the Internet is a full time job, and you do NOT have time for that! You have a book to write! And that’s why you let the Internet see other people, millions of other people. It’s just too needy for one person.
So if you’re having trouble resisting the Internet, try the things above. They’ve been working for me so far. And if you have any other ideas, please share!
Up Next from Heather… something short and sweet because I’m moving next weekend! Maybe “How to Use an Unpacked Box as a Desk”? But that’s not very exciting. I know, I’ll get us geared up for the A to Z Blog Challenge the Write On Sisters are doing in April with an A to Z Book List!