Internet “Detox” Update – Week 1 and 2

I’ve been tracking my Internet “detox” progress on my Facebook, but since not everyone follows me on there, I decided to write a little about it here, and add more thoughts since Facebook isn’t exactly a blogging platform.

 

On detox

The reasons I decided to commit to a “detox” for both the internet and my mobile phone is this:

1. Social media is affecting my mood.

When I checked my various internet accounts, I noticed how easily frustrated and drained I’d become by the incessant noise. It was exhausting — and, well, what’s the point in doing something if I find it exhausting?

2. I check my phone too often.

Check. Check. Check check check check. Check before I wake up. Check before I go to bed. Check. Impulsively. If I’m interrupting my work to check my phone, that’s a problem. It makes it difficult to focus. It makes it difficult to exist in the present moment.

3. It’s a time suck.

The second I thought to myself, “I wonder how many books I could have written without the internet distracting me,” I knew I needed to do this.

4. Did I mention it’s a time suck?

Not even a productive one. Which is fine for some folks — Mr. May says he is perfectly happy spending hours on Reddit, but Mr. May also doesn’t have books to write.

 

The Rules

I do have rules. I originally thought I’d quit all social media, but it is actually a vital part of being a writer, so all I can do is limit the amount of time I waste every day. So my rules are this:

PC:

2 hours of internet every day, from 9-11 AM on the PC. In those two hours, I can check my accounts, read articles and spend them online as I see fit. I installed Chrome’s StayFocusd addon, which blocks all websites after 11AM. The good thing about StayFocusd is that you can whitelist certain websites, so you can still access them while the rest of the internet is blocked. I have whitelisted dictionary.com and thesaurus.com, because I need them for writing.

Mobile:

For this, I use AppDetox. I have rules that limits me to social media for 15 minutes. No, it’s not a lot of time, so I use it very wisely. My screen looks like this:

Screenshot_2016-02-08-11-22-44

 

And lastly, to catch myself up, here are updates from weeks 1 and 2 (cut and pasted from Facebook):

 

Week 1

I read 8 books, wrote 20k words, and spent 3 afternoons exploring forests and old ruins. It’s eye-opening how much time I have when I’m limiting social media.
This week, I’m in love with 2 mobile apps that are helping me along:
Appdetox, which allows you to set a time limit for how often you can use your apps (mine are set to 15 minutes per day now).
Forest, which sets a timer for work intervals and each completed interval adds a tree to a digital forest.

 

Week 2

Slower progress this week (death in the family), but managed a very respectable 8k words written, 4 books read.

I am madly in love with the mobile app Writeometer. I’m using it to track my writing progress and daily goals. You input when you’d like to finish a manuscript by, and it’ll calculate how many words you need to write per day to reach your goal, and then it sends you reminders at a time of your choice. I have it send me a reminder at 11AM, just before I begin writing for the day, so I have a number to work toward.

Here’s a small screenshot of my project “Garden Book”, which I’d like to finish by summer. Around 669 words a day to reach 80k. Which, broken down, feels so doable.

Screenshot_2016-02-06-09-42-55
StayFocusd is what I’m using for when I have to work in Scrivener and need the internet off. You can use it to block specific sites, but for the purpose of “detox”, I have set the Nuclear Option to block the internet for 22 hours — 11AM to 9AM — which leaves me with 2 hours to check messages, update, etc.

2 hours, I’ve discovered, leaves just enough time to read certain articles, but not enough time to meander aimlessly through the internet wasteland cycling through thoughts like this: “I should stop this. I should work. In ten minutes I’m going to work. OK, maybe ten more minutes. In twenty minutes. OK, in an hour. Welp, I guess it’s bedtime so I’ll work in the morning.” Which is the terrible, unproductive, stressful cycle I am breaking with this detox.

On the mental health front — aforementioned grief aside — limiting my internet time has been very freeing. I’m feeling generally less anxious, sleeping better, and more inspired to write.

Until next week,