It’s getting to be quite the regular occurrence for me when I’m travelling. Every time I return home after some far flung adventure, I start to daydream about the benefits of spending less time online and more time, you know, actually out living my life. I don’t know if it’s the sunshine, spending so much time with friends or all the new experiences, but I always land at Heathrow with a surge of ambition to spend more time away from the artificial glare of my computer screen.
Never has this been so prevalent than during my latest trip to The States, which I returned home from yesterday. Ironic really, as I was there to teach a workshop on how to be successful online. Despite that fact Gala, Shauna & I spent a disproportionate amount of time discussing the benefits of cutting our time glued to a screen. On one day we even spent an afternoon with an ex-fashion blogger who had recently decided to curb her online addiction. She had pretty much decided to quit blogging and most social media completely and so obviously she had a lot to say on the subject. While her reasons for wanting to completely unplug were very different to what mine might be, chatting through the idea with her did make me strongly evaluate just how much time I spend on my computer, how often I check my phone and why I can’t seem to stop the aimless – and constant - browsing for distractions.
But I’m not delusional. I’m certainly not going to do a complete 180, shut down my blog, stop replying to my emails and take a look into converting to Amishism. It’s very easy when you’re away from the humdrum of the everyday to come over all idealistic and to make grand plans for change. Yet real life isn’t anything like a holiday. You get home and the old routine kicks back in with frightening ease – emails, deadlines, quick turnarounds on new projects – it’s all too easy to forget how great it felt to not be chained to a desk and to ignore everything that you’ve promised yourself.
One of the things the girls and I chatted through at length was that if we were really honest with ourselves how much of our ‘busy online time’ was really spent being productive – writing, emailing, designing etc etc, and how much of it is just our old friend procrastination. We all know how much of a time suck Pinterest can be, how draining keeping up with Twitter can feel or how fast Facebook seems to move on if we don’t check in daily. But if we objectively look at what we are actually doing on our computers every day, I wonder if we’d be shocked at how much of it is just frivoling?
I’m not going to kid myself (or you!) by pretending that I’m making a pact to cut my online time in half, or to only spend 4 hours a day on my computer, but I am making a promise to myself to make my time plugged in more consistently productive. My afternoon slump of pinning, tweeting nonsense and watching a shameful number of reruns of The Hills needs to stop. Of course Reading is hardly an entertainment mecca - if we had the sunshine, beaches and pseudo-celebrity spotting of Los Angeles I’m sure I could find plenty of offline activities to entertain me. But my promise to myself is this: if I start to slip towards the procrastination-side I’m going to get the hell offline for a while and do something less wasteful.
How do you feel about the amount of time you spend online or in front of a screen? Do you ever think you’d like to cut down too?