I work from home and find that my daily default, for the first half of my day, is sitting in front of a computer screen. I putz around answering emails, then get absorbed in a Facebook or LinkedIn post, and the surfing flurry goes on from there. Many days, I am totally unproductive. Something about passively staring at a screen saps my energy, but I often seem unable to pull myself away. As a writer and program developer, creativity is my currency, and time on the computer often leaves me feeling bankrupt.
One antidote to my Internet Disorder has been proving increasingly effective: getting out of the computer chair and simply doing something else. While this may sound simplistic, it’s not easy for me. Honestly, I am writing this blog more for myself than anyone else. If I leave a written record online of my intention to “stop the Internet insanity,” I am more likely to follow through, if for no other reason than my deep sense of guilt. And let me tell you, it is deep, a jagged chasm in my soul created from twelve years of Catholic school!
When I get out and do something completely different, I often return to the computer ready to use it for constructive purposes, like finishing my book, writing a blog, working on video scripts, and dozens of other positive pursuits.
If you are at all like me, take a few minutes now and write down a list of things, at least twenty, you need to do, or things you’ve been longing to do. Here is my list that I am making up right now, so that it’s authentically in the moment. I try to make up a list like this every day (some items carry over).
- Go to the Polish Market.
- Go to the café at the Detroit Institute of Arts .
- Take a 20-minute walk through the neighborhood.
- Run down and throw in a load of laundry.
- Iron the shirts in the laundry room that have been sitting there for three weeks.
- Do twenty push-ups.
- Make up and send invoices I have been putting off.
- Go to the drug store and buy toothpaste (which I have been out of for a week!).
- Make a list of workshop topics for 2016.
- Set dates for workshops for 2016.
- Go to the tile store to pick out bathroom tile.
- Call contractor about bathroom tear-out.
- Call Martin and ask his advice on hiring an assistant.
- Plan winter vacation now so that I can get better rates than my usual planning at the last minute.
- Drive to Tim Horton’s and get a latte.
- Take notebook into the yard and brainstorm on book project.
- Take five minutes to stretch using yoga postures.
- Write a thank-you note to friends who had me up to their summer home, and gave me REAL HUMAN INTERACTION.
- Spend ten minutes working in the yard (I HATE YARD WORK AND AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE).
- Spend ten minutes cleaning out my car, which is an absolute pit.
For the record, after number 18, I zoned out and went back on Facebook for a while until I realized, perhaps five minutes later, what I had done. Take a few minutes now and make out your own list and follow it. Comment on this blog and become part of a community of people who are all in this together, all trying to use the Internet to expand their potential instead of wasting it. I cannot seem to do it by myself. If you are having trouble in this area, don’t try to do it alone. Tell a friend what you are up to and see if he or she will support you. You may just need someone to check in with once or twice a week. Make no mistake, for many of us spending too much unproductive time online is a serious problem that requires commitment, focus, and plenty of support. Do not try to do it alone, but DO get your butt out of that chair, NOW!