Life in the 21st century is pretty good. You’re always connected to the internet, inside your home, and outside of it. You’re never disconnected.
With your smartphone, you have the world at your fingertips. Sounds great, right? NOT.
Most people don’t use technology but are rather used BY technology.
Apps, games, videos, articles, commercials, TV-shows, are all designed to keep your attention. So without you knowing it, you waste countless hours every single week. Your attention is all over the place, but not in the right place.
“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”
Why do you think Netflix automatically starts the next episode in 3, 2, 1 seconds? When that happens, you think: “Screw it, let’s watch another episode.”
The same goes for YouTube. Why do you think their suggestions are so good? They keep you locked in. And this applies to all content. There is ALWAYS a “next” video, episode, article, game, round, movie; you name it.
Funnily enough, most people who read these types of articles know that a lack of focus is bad. And in recent years, a large number of research papers and books have appeared about the harmful effects of distractions.
Specifically, research shows that distractions are associated with more stress, and higher frustration, time pressure, and effort.
Doing focused work is HARD. We’re always distracted.
And it’s not your fault. Most technology taps into your lizard brain and locks you in — it turns you into a consumer.
So don’t even think about resisting the internet or technology. I bet you’ve tried it in the past. “I’m never going to browse mindlessly for hours.” Yeah, right!
What will work? Recently, I wrote about how I beat procrastination by creating a system. Well, one of the most critical parts of that system is this:
Disconnect from the internet!
And there’s only one reason to do that: Too much of anything is a bad thing. Even good things.
- Too much exercise? You will get overtrained.
- Too much love? You will smother people.
- Too much work? You will burnout.
- Too much food? You will get fat.
- Too much water? You will die.
So why do you consume so much internet? I asked myself that question 2 years ago. I had no answer. So I thought; I do everything else in moderation, why not the internet?
Soon I found out that there’s no moderation with internet usage. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet. You’re already full, but you still keep eating. And after you’ve stuffed yourself, the regret will eat you up alive.
And that’s the same with internet usage. It’s so tempting and satisfying, and available EVERYWHERE. So you go all out with it. YouTube, Whatsapp, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.
I’m all about eliminating distracting stuff. However, I also don’t want to live my life as a recluse. So I had to find a middle ground that worked.
I’ve found that a simple tweak in my attitude towards the internet did the trick.
I went from “Always Connected” to “Always Disconnected.”
In practice, it works like this:
- On my phone, wifi and mobile data are standard off. I only turn it on when I need it.
- On my laptop, I use an app called SelfControl during the times I work (try FocusMe for Windows). The app blocks distracting sites. The advantage is that my apps like Evernote, DayOne, Office 365 remain connected so I can save my work in the cloud.
“Always connected,” isn’t a good thing for your focus and productivity.
It’s the same as going to the gym. Or having dinner. Or having a romantic evening with your partner. You don’t do those things for 24 hours a day. You do them for thirty minutes, an hour, or a few hours. Too much of those things is simply not effective.
Being disconnected from the internet has worked wonders for me. I don’t feel the urge to check my smartphone, email, or the news 500 times a day anymore.
And after a while, you feel like you’re not missing out on anything. That brings a sense of calmness to your life.
I also get more out of my days; I achieved more things than ever, feel less distracted, and have more time to spend on the things that make me happy.
At the end of the day, the internet is just a tool. However, some of us think it’s everything. But I’m pretty confident that, in years from now, I will not look back and regret that I didn’t spend enough time on the internet.
Can you imagine? You’re on your deathbed, and you’re saying this to your family: “I’m glad I watched so many FAIL compilations on YouTube.”
Nope. You’ll probably look back and reflect on the time you spent with your family or friends. Or the memories you made when you were traveling. Or how much you enjoyed your work.
So cut the crap with the internet. It’s not giving you anything but frustration.
And after reading this article; disconnect.
You will get some withdrawal symptoms like grabbing your phone 100 times. Or hitting the F key on your keyboard (for Facebook) all the time.
But I’ll promise you this: Disconnecting will help you DO more. And that’s what life is about.