I love the Internet. It is definitely a positive force in my life.
It is during my online time that I am able to develop and share my writing, receive feedback and encouragement from other aspiring writers, and form great friendships with like-minded individuals.
However, we all know that sometimes the virtual world can get a bit out of control.
Maybe we’re staring at the computer screen, instead of spending time with our kids. Maybe we’re using the computer to avoid facing issues, or completing tasks in real life. Maybe the Internet has gone from adding to our lives, to taking us away from reality.
When that happens, I recommend a brief time away from the computer. I recently took a little more than a week off, and I was able to realign my focus and prepare for the changes that we are currently making in our life. I’ve returned, after facing the issues I had been avoiding, ready to set limits and allow my online time to once again become a positive aspect of my life.
Are you ready to go on a Internet diet? Here are some tips, to get you started:
1. Let your friends know. That way, if you slip up and login to your e-mail, there will be no messages waiting to tempt you.
2. Don’t be a perfectionist. You will likely find yourself checking your e-mail or social networking accounts. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and you’re off the hook. You might even find yourself needing to go online, to conduct business and set up plans in real life. That’s why it’s important to let your friends know not to contact you.
3. Be prepared for some strange emotions. I know a lot of people–myself included–who experienced some anxiety. We worried that we’ll become isolated, and it doesn’t feel right to cut back on this aspect of our lives. The Internet involves instant acceptance from like-minded friends. It’s easy and it’s positive. But, we need to work on our real-life relationships, and we need to trust that our online friends will still be there, waiting. A friend once told me, in e-mail there are no awkward pauses.
4. Figure out what you want to work on. I set up a great morning routine, did a lot of spiritual reading, worked on relationships in real life, and looked into the roots of the fears I was experiencing. Make sure you use your time well.
5. Once you’ve seen the positives, develop a re-entry plan. What limits will you set? I will start out only writing 3 blog posts a week, and only writing 3 e-mails a day. I will take my time getting caught up on the blogs that I follow, and the writers of those blogs know that (or at least you do now!!!).
6. Stay off until you’re no longer feeling the negative emotions. I made sure my anxiety was good and gone. You’ll be stronger for it, your online friendships will be stronger for it, and it will put everything into perspective.
So, my virtual diet was a success! I hope yours is, as well.
And, as an aside, an update on my personal adventures: We are spending tonight in a poolside room in Little Rock, Arkansas. By this time tomorrow, we will be moving into our apartment in Houston, which we have never seen. We will not have Internet access until Thursday, so I will not be writing a post tomorrow. I am anxious to get settled in, meet our neighbors, and do a little sight seeing around Houston.
But, life is good now. We had some excellent sushi, from a small restaurant downtown in Little Rock, and I am ready to take Beanie to the pool.