These days, our lives pretty much play out online.
We’re in constant contact with the outside world.
We run our work life online, we organise our personal lives online…in fact the only time that we tend to log off is when we’re asleep.
It’s really quite remarkable that there are 5 billion mobile phone users and 2.4 billion internet users globally (especially when you consider that 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day).
Social media has taken over from porn as the number one reason for using the internet, and every day on facebook alone users share 2.5 billion pieces of content.
There is 100 hours of video uploaded to youtube every minute and on average people spend more than 3 hours every day on social media (and that doesn’t include other internet usage, emails or time on the phone).
…and then there’s mobile phones.
How much time do you spend online?
On average, how many times a day do you think a mobile phone user checks their device? 10? 20? 50? 75?
Nope. Double it.
The average mobile phone user checks their device 150 times every single day.
It’s simple, these days many of us live our lives online.
…and there are a lot of benefits to it. Four of my closest friends live in different countries. One of them lives over 5 thousand miles away from me.
I get to keep in touch with people I otherwise probably wouldn’t. I get to feel like I’m a part of their lives and they are a part of mine. I know what’s going on in their lives and get to share in what’s going on for them…good, bad and otherwise.
I get to connect with more people than I ever could one-to-one. The fact that you’re reading this article means that you and I are connected online in some way, shape or form. Without the medium of the internet, it’s unlikely I’d get to share this with you.
So the world of online can be wonderful.
Is spending a lot of time online costing you?
It can also be a big problem.
People are spending so much time online, that they aren’t connecting with people offline as much anymore. …and in some cases people are even forgetting HOW to connect offline, because they’re so out of practice.
The online world can end up leeching a lot of our lives away. How many women sit down and think to themselves “I know, I’ll spend over 3 hours today on social media?” Very few, I’ll bet. But they sit down for a ‘quick catch up’ and before they know it an hour has gone by and they didn’t even notice it.
Of those same women, if I asked them how much time a day they spent nourishing or nurturing themselves, the answer is likely to be ‘not much’…and the number one reason? “I don’t have the time”. Spending just 15 minutes less on social media and looking after themselves instead could make a drastic difference to the quality of their lives.
So the question is, how often do you unplug?
The reason I ask this is until very recently, if you’d asked me the same question I would have said “never”.
I used to spend a disproportionate amount of time online. Now, I know my business is based online, so of course I’m going to spend a large amount of time online…but it wasn’t just for my business.
If I’m being honest, it was any spare moment. If I was bored, or wanted a distraction I’d reach for my phone or my laptop. My phone was always on, and when it beeped, pinged or vibrated I’d instantly check it.
…and then I realised how being in constant contact with the world was EXHAUSTING! Because it was contact, not connection. I wasn’t making the time I was spending online quality time connecting with the people who mattered most to me, I was just passing time. There were no boundaries, and it was unhealthy.
The online world is a good servant…not a good master.
I wanted to unplug.
Do you need to take yourself from online to offline…just for a bit?
So, I made a commitment to myself. I was going away on my own for a week of R&R. Time for me, to connect with myself, to enjoy myself, to just be me. …and I made the commitment for that week I would be completely and totally offline.
No internet, no phone, no social media.
No facebook posts, no uploading of photos, no texts, no comments or likes.
I set all my business correspondence up to go out automatically…and at midnight on Saturday 3rd of August, everything went off.
It was bliss.
I spent the whole week connecting with me.
I got to experience the REAL world, 24 hours a day, for a full 7 days. No beeping, pinging or vibrating. No television. No internet. No-one but the people I saw face to face. I found myself appreciating and enjoying my food more (it’s amazing how when you concentrate on eating it rather than ‘lol-ing’ on a friends status update, how much more your senses get to experience!) I felt more grounded, more connected.
I spent the week reading, doing yoga, meditating. Going with the flow, following my intuition…even drawing – sometime I’d not done in about 15 years!
It was fantastic.
Did I break it at any point?
But the exceptions felt pretty necessary at the time. I used my phone when I had a tyre blowout on my way to my retreat, to call my Mum and let her know I was OK after a very dramatic and traumatic nut allergy reaction saw me sped off to hospital…and I called to let someone know I was staying an extra day so they wouldn’t worry when I didn’t show up.
Did I use the internet? No.
Did I use any social media? No.
Did I check my emails? No.
It was fantastic…and when I got back I didn’t want to go back online. I’d had such a wonderful time, and I felt so much more connected to myself, I didn’t want to lose it.
So when I got back, did I spend days and days going through everything I’d missed?
Not at all! I filtered quickly through the email and found everything important…and on social media, I asked people to let me know if there was anything important – anything else really didn’t matter. It is more important to me spending time in the real world!
But then I realised…as with everything, it’s all about balance.
So now, my phone’s airplane mode gets utilized on a regular basis…as does silent mode.
I have time in the morning and in the evening which is ‘my time’…and I choose not to connect with the world online until it’s right for me to do so.
When I’m out with someone, they have my attention, and my phone is on silent.
If I choose to make a status update, I don’t have to monitor and respond to every like and comment in real time. I pop on for a while…and then go and live life in the real world…and then later when I choose to do so I can pop back on and get up to date.
My email program is often closed and Facebook chat is permanently off….I check my messages when I want to…not because something has popped up and distracted me from what I’m doing.
So work out what boundaries you’d like to set for your time online.
When do you want to be connected…and when do you want to disconnect?
Could you make some ‘you time’ in your day, and choose to take that time out of your facebook updates?
Figure out what works for YOU…and then choose to make it happen.
Because sometimes you need to disconnect from the world online, to truly connect with yourself…and others. If you missed it, I highly recommend you watch this short video that makes the point beautifully…
…and if you do spend some time offline, I promise you everyone who matters will still all be there when you get back.