Online vs offline: finding balance
During the Easter weekend I went offline for four full days, Friday to Monday, for the Enjoy Time Offline project. I thought it would be really hard to quit social media, but as a matter of fact it was quite easy.
I turned off all my notifications, including emails, except for WhatsApp as that’s how I keep in touch with my family and friends in Italy. I also moved my social media folder, which usually sits on my first screen, back to the second page – out of sight, out of mind.
I usually post my daily floral image on Instagram quite early in the morning, while I’m drinking my first cup of tea, so on Friday it felt a bit odd to just drink my tea, without reaching for the phone…odd, yes, but pleasant.
After that first moment of strangeness, it actually felt very natural not to check my phone, and instead give my full attention to whatever I was doing at the time. I particularly enjoyed not seeing any notifications of new emails – when I see them, I usually feel obliged to check them, and even if I don’t I keep thinking that I should, and that’s very distracting.
I asked my husband to check my website a couple of times, and scroll through my inbox in case there was something urgent, but luckily all was fine.
What I missed most is being able to search the internet, but the online deprivation actually triggered another insight. I realised that I often do internet researches that are not urgent, or even necessary, just because I can…
As a new idea pops into my mind, I feel the urge to start a search and lose focus. Once I’m on the net, I usually get sidetracked into something that wasn’t even on my radar before…only to emerge from the rabbit hole an hour, or more, later, dazed and tired…regretting all the time I didn’t spend on the tasks I’d set myself before the search.
During my offline time I did a lot of reading, cooked meals with my husband, went for walks, pottered in the garden a bit, had a few naps…all very relaxing and soothing. The break gave me some headspace, and I felt much calmer and focused.
After the internet break I was refreshed and eager to work on my projects, and I decided to make a few changes to my routine:
- I left all my notifications turned off. This way I find it easier to stay focused on the task at hand.
- When I get a new idea or thought that I’d like to explore, I write it own on a notebook instead of dropping everything to do an internet search. This way I won’t forget important stuff, and I won’t waste time either (at least that’s the aim).
- I’m checking my emails only three times a day, or two if I’m on a photo shoot. Again, not seeing the little number by the email icon, saying that I have x number of emails waiting for my attention, leaves me much calmer and productive.
- I’m also trying to change my posting habits on Instagram, and switch to a different time. The aim is to stop the outside world from getting into my day too early, and instead spend those first precious few hours focusing on what it’s important to me.
I know that my engagement and number of likes might suffer from this change, especially at the beginning, but in the long run people will get used to my new posting schedule, I think, and to the fact that I won’t be on Instagram first thing in the morning. I’m still testing which time might work best for me – late morning, early afternoon, or perhaps evening…we’ll see.
These are just small changes to my routine, but small changes can give great results, and hopefully they’ll take me a step closer to some kind of balance.
So what do you think? What are your thoughts on offline and online balance? I’d love to know!
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