A while back I started some unplugged experiments.
Whilst I didn’t – and don’t – spend vast amounts of time online on what I’d consider meaningless activities, I wanted to hone the quality further, and reduce my overall time each week spent on a device connected to the internet.
The experiments went well, and both aims were achieved. I was online less, and when I was connected, the quality (or, put another way, the meaningulfness) was higher.
I felt a lasting positive effect of unplugging in the months since I began.
But last week for one reason or another (including a fairly intensive week on screen in my day job) I just felt a little burned out, and in need of a break.
So at the weekend – from Friday evening until Monday morning – I unplugged and stayed offline.
The break was so refreshing I plan to make it a regular weekend fast again.
However it’s not a 100% ban on the internet.
As I found in previous unplugging experiences, it becomes counter-productive to jump through hoops to stay offline entirely for the sake of a two minute query that enriches the day.
So here’s what I will still occasionally grab my phone for –
What’s App – messages mostly to family just for general updates, sharing the odd family photo, or arranging to meet up.
Google – for looking up answers to questions posed by enquiring young minds – and to encourage that enquiring.
Google – for activity ideas, for example, recently, how to mix up your own slime, build Lego machines, bake fairy cakes, make marmite popcorn, and lace up trainers in cool different ways.
Google – to find opening times and prices for swimming pools, activity centres, parks and gardens and so on.
Met Office – to see the weather predictions for the day/weekend/week that might affect plans.
Sat Nav (Google Maps app) – to find out how to get to places, and how long it’s likely to take so we’re not late. Very helpful for trips to trampolining and dancing competitions and the like. And my ongoing explorations of the ancient churches of Sussex.
Google Photos – to edit a few photos I’ve recently taken (ie choose which ones to delete).
As before, I’m reviewing the time I do spend online with a more critical eye.
So here’s what I’ll be doing less of throughout the week when I am connected, that I don’t feel is a very good use of time –
1. Searching for and watching on eBay cameras and lenses I don’t need.
2. Researching reviews of cameras and lenses I don’t need.
Er, they’re the main ones.
Finally some simple techniques that helped previously, and did again this past weekend –
1. Leaving my phone in the bedroom, not in the main living room.
If I physically have to go and get the phone it’s an impossible to ignore prompt to question whether I need to pick up my phone at all.
2. Leaving my iPad and MacBook asleep (and also in the bedroom).
Again, if I have to physically seek them out, I’ll stop before I wake them from sleep.
3. Reading more books, and having them around in the living room.
I usually prefer to have a dedicated undisturbed reading session when the house is quiet, but by leaving a current book I’m reading in the living room this weekend (instead of the bedroom) there were a few times I was able to pick it up and read a few pages.
Which is much more useful than doing the same thing with a phone to browse eBay.
I plan to do this with a paperback book, plus a photo book, so they are more readily available to dip into, and this will increase my (offscreen) reading time overall.
How about you? How much time do you spend online each week? Are you happy with this amount?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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