Confession time. I love the online world. Working at home alone as I primarily do, social media offers me a way to pause and “have a cup of coffee with friends” in the comfort of my own home (and sometimes in my pajamas 🙂 ) either here on the blog, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
But the truth is, chatting on Facebook is a lot easier than writing a book. And as much as I enjoy connecting with other writers online, that probably won’t help me meet my next deadline. Being social is good, don’t get me wrong. But like many good things in life, moderation is required. Yeah, I’m still workin’ on that.
In some ways, this is nothing new. The world has always been full of ways to pull us away from our God-given purpose. And the modern world with its high-tech ease offers even more distractions than ever before. The word “unplug” has been around since 1765, but it has taken on new and deeper meanings. From the original 1. “unstop a clog or disconnect an appliance,” to 2. “relax by disengaging from normal activities,” and most recently, 3. “to refrain from using digital or electronic devices for a period of time.”
The internet is full of articles about the problem of internet addiction and the benefits of unplugging (which is ironic, if you think about it). Did you know there is even a National Day of Unplugging? I read about it online. 🙂 Apparently, I am in good company with my struggles.
I used to have great focus, but whether due to age or the internet, or both, my focus isn’t what it used to be. Years ago, I had no trouble sitting for hours “lost” in my 1815 story-world. Meanwhile, I bemoaned the hours my kids spent on digital entertainment and tried to keep them from overdoing it. But somewhere along the way, I got caught in the same net. Self-discipline has never been a strong suit of mine, so now I’m “parenting myself,” trying to limit my own time with digital media.
I do pretty well about not watching television in general, and especially around deadline time, but social media is trickier, because I need to do some as an author, to stay connected with my readers and promote my books. But too often (for me at any rate), social media becomes an all-too-easy-way to procrastinate the writing I should be doing. (And don’t even get me started on online shopping.)
Oh, I’ve tried just disconnecting the WiFi on my laptop, but unfortunately I find myself reconnecting to check some research question or word choice. From there it’s just too easy to transition to: “Oh, I’ll quickly check my email while I’m online, and maybe just peek at Facebook….” and before I know it, an hour has gone by with nothing to show for it.
So I’ve found that to stay productive, I have to go downstairs and actually unplug the modem for several hours at a time. (I also leave my cell phone in my bedroom or in my purse, so I’m not tempted to use data to go online that way).
In the past I had no trouble concentrating at home, but lately I have been leaving the house more often to write at places with fewer distractions, like a local writing center or a coffee shop with an author-friend where I don’t know the WiFi password—and don’t want to know it!
What about you? Do you ever find yourself wasting time online? Whether you’re a writer or something else, do you have any advice to offer those of us struggling with the same issue?