I didn’t realise how bombarded I’ve been. A couple of weeks ago we lost our wifi connection, and let’s just say our service provider had a relaxed attitude when it came to getting us reconnected. While it was frustrating sometimes (we run our own business from home, so…), there were obviously some benefits. Case in point, I painted my nails. For the first time in forever. Because suddenly I had time. Did I really devote so much time to my virtual reality? It seems so.
Because now that we’re reconnected, I’ve spent a disgusting amount of time just trying to catch up. Which means without really noticing it, I’ve been devoting time I didn’t really know I was giving to this online space every day. A bit here, a bit there, it added up but I didn’t notice.
I had all these emails from Facebook – Bridie, you’re missing out! Pending notifications! You missed a really popular post from so-and-so!!
I logged into Facebook, and saw the the notification button was at 99. It stops at 99, so obviously, there were more than 99 there. Awhile ago, frustrated by Facebooks algorithms, I had set a number of pages to ‘receive notifications’. I realised this wasn’t the cleverest of ideas after all…
I love the internet. The answers, communities, Pinworthiness. And I thought I had some good restrictions in place. I didn’t realise what I really had until that forced break laid it all out for me.
So I got to some virtual nesting. Because nesting is the best! I feel like it’s all I’m doing at the moment, so why not extend it into the virtual distractions realm?
So I present you with my list. A few of these things were already in place, and some I did a little of, but not as much as I clearly should have.
1. Keep it off your phone.
Once upon at a time, I found it easy, no big deal, to sit at the park and scroll through Facebook, emails, Pinterest or Feedly. But that ended some time ago now. A couple of years ago I made the decision to be ruthless with my phone, and culled most of the ways it was distracting me. It was just too easy. It was always with me, and had become a habit. And I didn’t like it. Instead of just sitting in a quiet moment, my hands would fumble to my phone and it wasn’t actually a feeling I enjoyed. I still keep some things there – emails (time sensitive responses only), Instagram (to post), Google (because I don’t use road maps and love to be able to say lets find out with questions like how many trees are in the world? The answer? As far as I can tell, about 4 1/2 billion, but who’s counting?). I keep very little else on there.
So I tackled this in a big way last week. I didn’t realise how much I’d been automatically deleting, ignoring and letting clog my inbox until I returned to the land of the virtual and there was a small nation of emails waiting for me. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. Delete. Delete. A certain online celebrity lifestyle magazine? I don’t need $600 shorts. I don’t need it clogging my email. The gym we used to be a part of? Why am I still getting emails? Gah. I used to just delete, delete, but making a permanent delete? So much better.
So I signed up to those emails for a reason, right? I am very quick to hit the subscribe button, for sure, there’s a lot out there I’m interested in! So when it came to clearing out my email subscriptions, I made sure to add any blogs I still enjoy to Feedly or Bloglovin. I’m not sure why I use them both – I really should consolidate. Ha. (If you’re unaware, these are Readers you can use so that all the blogs/websites you subscribe to go to the one spot). This way I can frame any time I give these, instead of letting them overlap into other areas.
4. Turn off.
(And not just your devices, which is important!) no, I’m talking about notifications. Facebook notifications, push notifications from apps, email alerts. Worse than a nagging child. (I assume. Me? I have perfect children who never ask the same question thirteen thousand times, despite having received a response). You don’t need that constant background beeping. Give your mind a rest.
5. Time Limits
A place for everything, and everything in its place, right? This can be an only half an hour thing, or if you’re like me, more a time of day thing. I do my best to avoid being online before school. I’ll only check Feedly when I have some dedicated alone time. No emails or social media when it should be time with kids. I don’t want my kids memories of me to be from behind a screen. And I don’t want them to learn that its okay to retreat from their family to behind a screen.
Like most things, the virtual world is what you make of it. All these rules mean that when I am online, I enjoy it more as I keep to the things I’m actually interested in, not wasting time. Sometimes things creep back in, but I’m hoping to be a little more diligent from now on.
How do you manage your online time?