Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gaining perspective and getting offline

By the time you read this, my butt will be on a beach "sipping on gin and juice" (just kidding). [Seriously, I'll be alternating between water and more water cause I'm dehydrated like that.] Anyway, we're taking a big family vacation. The in-laws, the kids, the whole kit and caboodle. And I will be fully disconnected. I won't check email on vacay. I won't cruise social media on vacay. I'll pretend the outside world doesn't exist when I'm on vacay. Now, why can't I do that during the rest of the year?

I believe I've mentioned this before: I have an internet problem. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my email (because my agent will be emailing me with terrific news at 5am - yeah, right) and then I jump online to scroll through Twitter. I'll comment on Facebook, see what's happening on Reddit. Lament my book ranking on Amazon. There is no end to the wormholes the web provides.

I'm on my laptop constantly. My children will always remember me as standing at the kitchen counter, clacking away on my computer.

In addition to writing, I am a stay-at-home mom with three kids. Some days, my only adult interaction is through Facebook Messenger or Twitter convos. Writing is a very lonely and isolating gig. And I love to chat up my author friends about their manuscripts, their submission process, their writing life. It makes me feel like I am part of a virtual office. It makes me feel connected. Also, as many of you know, writers are online a lot: to market, to promote friends, to advertise book sales or blog posts. But, you can't push a product you don't have and online time swamps my ability to draft.

And like gorging on a fatty meal when you're trying to lose weight, my insistence on surfing the web makes me feel horrendous. In an effort to connect to people online, I'm disconnected from my life around me: my kids, my dog, my writing which gets neglected by the pull of an interesting thread on Twitter. It's not freaking healthy. And I know it.

It's impossible to completely disengage from the online world. For one thing, I need to be reachable via email and Messenger for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to make sure my neighbor (who I often team up with for carpooling and childcare), and my husband can reach me if need be. But honestly, that's it.

So, I've drafted a Disengage Manifesto:

1. You do not need to share every Washington Post/Buzzfeed/NYT/Politico article. It's not your job to teach Facebook friends about politics. They can look stuff up themselves. Let them. Post some photos of your kids once in a while. Check your parents' feed for their vacation photos. That's enough. You're good.
2. Twitter is a time suck, not to mention a hatchet to your morale. Limit that indefinitely.
3. Email really only needs to be looked at once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening. No one is trying to contact you that badly.
4. Reddit is fun, but it won't write your book.
5. Close your freaking laptop and hide it from yourself. Run a lap around the block. Get off your butt. Put in a load of laundry. Listen to a podcast.

I don't know why I continue behaviors I know are bad for me. Why does anyone really? I'm hoping some time off from the real world will give me new perspective. To quote Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast...."

What are your tips and tricks to getting offline and boosting productivity?


Carrie Beckort said...

So much this. I do pretty well at ignoring Twitter (sorry to anyone following me there). I don't post a lot to Facebook, but I skim it often. Honestly, outside of Facebook my biggest online time suck is Goodreads. I love looking for books, planning my reading lists, reading reviews, blah, blah, blah. I've tried not logging into social sites while I'm supposed to be working and leaving my phone in another room, but I'm only successful at that a few times out of the year. In personal life, we have times when technology is not allowed (except to play music) - such as at the dinner table or during our family game nights. It really is just a conscious effort to unplug, and it's a struggle.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

A good view, a glass of wine, and old friends can pull me off the net but most of the time I'm like Alice in Wonderland, I've fallen (dove) down the rabbit hole, and I am enchanted. Great post.

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