The Upside of Going Offline
October 1, 2019
Note From Rochelle
During the week of October 14-20, I will be celebrating my new book with several fun promotions. One of them is a class: Gameify Your Writing Life, which will be held on Wednesday, October 16 at 12:00 PM central time. In this class, you will learn why games are an effective tool for self-improvement and how you can use game technology to rock your writing life. Attend the class live at no charge or purchase the recording later. Sign up on my workshops page.
Today, I’m talking about my September social media experiment. If you want to learn how taking time offline affected my writing, read on.
The Great Social Media Experiment:
The Upside of Going Offline
My writing colleague and I traded notes on how social media was draining our energy and cutting into our writing time.
It’s a common complaint these days. Every writer I talk to must juggle an already full calendar of work and writing with building and maintaining their online platform.
I needed a new plan.
We each planned to try one intervention for a month, and see how it went. I planned to:
- Write before checking email or social media
- Go offline after work
- Take one day offline each week
Okay, so that’s more like three things. But I knew I needed strong boundaries.
I learned a few things.
When I did a great job staying offline in the mornings, I accomplished a lot. I wrote more–and was more focused. When I had to check email early in the day because of editing deadlines, I became distracted. I had a whole new list of things to do and trouble getting anything done.
Because I isolated my social media time, I could clearly see its effect on me. Even going online after lunch to check in with my Facebook groups ended in purposeless scrolling—which almost always left me feeling unfocused and less content.
As I go into the next month of our experiment, I plan to continue writing before going online and turning off the computer each evening.
I found it nearly impossible to take an entire day offline, so I’ll try taking a 24-hour period offline during the weekend.
But the big shift will be this: I want to be more intentional about my time online. I will have a daily agenda or task list for social media. I’d also like to set a timer, so that when I am tempted to scroll mindlessly, I have an end point.
As writers and entrepreneurs, we’re a lot like jugglers. We’ve already got three balls in the air at any given time, juggling our writing with our work and family life. When we check in online, it’s like someone throwing another 12 balls at us. Suddenly we’re juggling more than any one person can handle.
As you look at your online life, consider:
How can you create a buffer zone around your writing time?
Every writer I’ve worked with falls into one of two styles: they need to write before checking in online or they need to check in online before they can write.
Whatever you do, make your writing time sacred. Create a ritual that moves you from life, both online and in person, to writing. Then, isolate yourself when you write. Create a distraction free zone by turning off your phone, internet access, and anything else that distracts you.
How can you be purposeful about your online time?
I noticed that when I went online, all of my normal purposefulness disappears. I’m like a kid wandering around a sweets shop. Oh! That looks yummy! I wonder how that tastes. Chocolate!
I did much better when I went online with a to-do list and a time limit. Think about your social media goals. Then, consider what you need to do to achieve your goals. When you go online, do so with a plan. And if you just want to randomly surf and connect, set a timer.
Could you benefit from technology-free day?
I took a weekend respite from social media because I missed the opportunity to think spaciously. When I wander through art exhibits or walk in the woods, I get my best ideas. My characters talk to me. That doesn’t happen when I’m being pinged at by notifications on my phone. If you’re feeling stuck or unimaginative, consider taking time away from technology.
Need more ideas? Check out my class Gameify Your Writing Life.
Tune into the blog tomorrow to hear my friend’s suggestions for staying sane while juggling writing and social media: Stop the Internet from Stopping You.