It’s no secret that my page has been quiet for nearly 2 months. Prepping for the move and making sure I’ve got my head on straight takes a lot of work. I’ve also been working hard on directing my life very intentionally and reevaluating what I allow into it.
An important part of this process has been taking an internet break, slowing down my social media and reevaluating how I use tech in my daily life. One of my favorite places to spend my days off has been up at a friend’s house who lives out of the city. He doesn’t have a TV or internet, and yet we are never bored. I’ll take my laptop to the coffee shop if there is something I really need to take care of.
In reality – it has been a hiatus from all the crap.
I recommend “Everything That Remains” by The Minimalists if you’re looking for some insight into simplification, redirection and minimalism. They have a good podcast too and a great website. I found them at the perfect time for where I was at in my life.
So here are 5 things you’ll learn by taking a break:
That blue light is your body’s enemy
Its no secret to anyone that staring at our phones and computers all the time is bad, but are you actively thinking about it? I’m not going to preach about the negative effects of the blue light on your entire body, you know it already know. I’ve turned on ‘Night Shift’ on my phone to turn the color warmer as the sun sets and overnight. It also forces you to look up a lot more. I haven’t been watching Netflix (with the exception of a very intentional xfiles binge with my best friend).
Don’t forget to just look up. I have tried to enjoy my surroundings more and have less technology assaulting the senses every where I turn. I even bought an old school alarm clock to use instead of my phone, to curb my night time usage. It ended up being too bright and making it difficult to sleep, so I still have some work to do there. But try to find ways to limit your eyes to the amount of screens you have to focus on, especially when you have to also be staring at a screen for work.
Live a real life
Real life is awesome, and you’re probably missing out. Put the damn phone down. Remember that social media is not real life. I had already silenced my social media notifications on my phone to simplify overall. But given the current social/political/cultural clashes that are going on right now, I decided to also delete my Facebook app. I can still access it via Safari or on any computer, but its no longer a reflex to just pull up the app every time my mind drifts. Keep in mind this goes for text messages too.
How many of those relationships would still be around if you eliminated texting? Call people more. Quit the mindless texting. It doesn’t add value or real connection to your relationships. Live those relationships, don’t type them and don’t filter them. (see ‘you can do without all the BS’ below)
It is so important to stay well informed, but be intentional and know your sources. There is so much information out there, some true, some not, and some more biased than others. It just became a time suck for me and quite exhausting, to be honest. The only social app I have left on my iPhone is Instagram, which still has silenced notifications. And I check it less often now. I still engage just as much, but I’m intentional about it. There is a real world outside of social media, and guess what – its better.
New things will interest you
Disconnecting from the tech/social/internet world forces you to broaden your horizons. I read 2 books and started a third. I’ve been out hiking and found new ways to enjoy my city. I’ve gone back to the gym and I enjoy taking the time to cook. I’m helping 3 different people remodel and paint their homes. Disconnect from the mindless world that consumes hours of your time, and focus on the life that is waiting outside.
Imagine how different your life would be if you turned off the TV for one week. Just eliminated if from your life. Or maybe the internet. Think you would be handle to handle the week? Could you go for a month? Go find a class on something that interests you. Read a new book. Set up coffee dates with people you’ve lost touch with. Volunteer and give your energy to a worthy cause. Stop turning off your brain and start engaging more.
You can do without all the BS
Simplifying a little also reminds you how easy it is to do. And get ready for it to snowball into every aspect of your life. Turns out, the world will still turn if you don’t check Facebook as often and don’t send snapchats of every thing you do. And you don’t need those blouses your never wear. Or those miscellaneous kitchen tools. Maybe you’ll even sleep better with less of those unnecessary stimulants. You’d be surprised how much stress this stuff causes and how much lighter you feel without it.
Remind yourself that you don’t need all of the filler, you need the things that matter. Be intentional about what you let into your life. If I’m going to happy hour, I try to put my phone away more and keep the drinks to a minimum. Engage with your company in a more meaningful way, and save a little money. The people in front of you matter, even if you don’t live stream it. Social media and text relationships are not (usually) tangible things. Booze, filters and useless texts are social lubricants that are actually making it harder for us to build real connections. Be careful, be intentional and be meaningful.
The only BS I want in my life is burritos and salsa.
Direction, not distraction
Make sure that you are not only on the path you want, but still headed in the right direction and with the correct intentions. Are you still in line with yourself? Or have you drifted a little? Its okay if you do. That’s human nature. But taking the time to stop and refocus will allow you to make those corrections and ensure you are still working towards the end goal. Course correcting is significantly easier if it is a habit instead of an ‘oh shit’ moment.
You’ll find more focus with less (unnecessary) outside influence. You have to be self aware of what is distracting you and what aspects of your life you need to focus on. I get more work done taking my laptop and camping out at a coffee shop for 2 hours, than I do when I’ve got my laptop open at home. I kept up with my Instagram account without my notifications on, but stepped away from everything else. Including my website, which now needs some serious TLC. However, I’m glad I did because I have clear direction and a more precise intention behind the work that I’ll be putting in.
I don’t have this down to a science. I’m still learning. And what works for me, may not work for you. But I encourage to find a way to disconnect from some things in your life.
In reality – whats the worst that will happen?
Take a break. See what happens. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
Important! It’s pretty hard to pull yourself away from the Internet when it’s a part of your job, but I learned to put my phone away at night somewhere I cannot reach it easily. Will be using some of your tricks here. Thanks!
Wonderful post Alexis. It’s so important for everyone but especially people who use social media and the internet like us bloggers to not let it take over. I love the Minimalists, I discovered them last year and I love listening to their podcast.
They are so great and theyre from my home town too!
So good of you to have done that and shared your experience! I think we could all benefit from a bit of a break when it comes to internet and technology in general… I have to finish writing my dissertation and need the technology and comfort, but when I’m done I’ll find a way to take a break!!
Do it! It sounds like you need it more than I did!
While reading your article I was also posting to instagram and checking facebook!! I do feel like I am constantly distracted by things going on with other people. I do love it though when I go to a place with no wifi and I am forced to live without it, its surprising how I don’t miss it at all!! Not sure I could go cold turkey for a few months though!!
It was completely cold turkey, I kept up on Instagram so that I didnt lose momentum completely. But Im far more intentional about it now, so I get more value from it.
LOVE this. I don’t know anything about the blue light – I will have to google that, but I am in teh same boat and need to have a break. You’ve inspired me, thank you!
Im happy to hear it! It will be good for you and you’ll enjoy it, I promise!
Oh it is SO true. I have chronic neck and wrist issues from so much laptop/smart phone use, its actually sad. I love internet breaks but sadly don’t do it as much as I should. Great call on the podcast though, I will definitely check out that recommendation. Great & insightful read!
Thank you! Its been a long time coming, but I’m happy to have stayed a little less plugged in.
Great post! I see the screen addiction with toddlers these days, it’s scary to see! Everyone needs a break once in a while. You quickly realize you aren’t missing much!
Some little kids are better than tech than I am!
My partner (who almost never takes his phone out when we’re together, unless we’re having co work time) is my inspiration on this.
I’m way more active on social media (it’s part of my job) but I totally agree- it’s so so important!
A close friend of mine is the same way, he has helped hold me accountable!
Yes! Internet breaks are the best! Spending 10 days in Cuba with basically no internet was magical and made me realize how much time I waste scrolling!
Cuba sounds like a pretty damn good place to unplug!
You’re right! Sometimes I have the impression we are letting our life go by while staring at a phone!
Yeah I feel that way too!
Great reminders here. I try and put my phone away for a couple of hours everyday. Doesn’t always happen but so important.
Every little bit helps, and it means you’re being conscious of it!
Yes…so much this!!