Digital Diets–Why and How

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.

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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.

5 thoughts on “Digital Diets–Why and How

  1. A break is important. I decided this summer to take weekends off from blogging. I was surprised and happy to see how fresh I felt returning after only two days away. I do have notification on my phone when I have a comment that needs my attention and will answer all at one time from the phone which keeps the computer put away for those two days.

    Enjoy the pool, don’t worry about getting caught up with my blog, although I did post a joke last night you might like. 🙂 It was finally nice today so am in a good place after being able to be outdoors in the sunshine!

    Hope you have some good neighbors and love your new apartment.

    • I will have to check that post out! I’m thinking of getting caught up on one blog per day, then sharing my favorite post from the time I was away.

      I do check comments periodically, but that doesn’t take much time.

  2. I really need to do this. I’ve had multiple breaks, ranging in length to “Oh-my-gosh-what-did-I-miss?” to “Ahh…I’m back.” While I felt better after the breaks, I never quite made it past the guilt of falling so far behind. Because I’m now starting back to work, I’m really feeling the crunch to prioritize things.

    • Ditch the guilt! 😉

      We all need breaks some times, and you really aren’t “falling behind.” The first thing I did, after my break, was delete all the blog post notification from my inbox. I’ll get to them when I get to them, and I probably will miss some posts. Oh well. And I actually try to stay behind on e-mails, so that life happens in-between (so I have more to write about!).

      Do what you need to do–we’ll still be here, I promise!

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