I knew I needed to set aside the one thing that was consuming too much of my time. Sitting open, always there, that tantalizing laptop was distracting me from living intentionally, the continual desire of this journey I am walking. Just a few minutes...and a few more.
So I closed it for Lent. By the time Lent was over, I'd formed some better habits. Why mess with that? And so I find myself, an additional forty days later, still enjoying the freedom of days without a laptop.
When I say 80 days, it really was only the "day" portion. I allowed myself evenings in order to get caught up on emails, work, and various online activities. But during the day, when it mattered most, I slipped that shiny silver distraction under the couch and left it there.
80 days later, I've been able to see my daytime computer use from a new perspective.
1. On the days I cheated, I was grumpier and more impatient. "Just let me finish this one thing" can stretch on for quite a while in the fast-paced online world.
2. I was more productive. I mean, of course I was. Sometimes I'd do a bit of housework simply because I was bored and didn't know what else to do.
3. I read more. Again, naturally. Less time online means more time for other pursuits. Still, it was good to see that actually playing out.
4. I was more in tune with my body. Hunger, thirst, and tiredness are easy for me to ignore when I'm staring at a screen and clicking from one place to another.
5. I didn't miss a whole lot. At the end of the day, there just wasn't as much to "catch up" on as I expected there to be.
I did, however, have a hard time keeping up with my work. Whether volunteering with Natural Parents Network, marking my students' assignments for the online course I teach, or simply responding to emails, it was even more difficult than usual to juggle everything and get things done in a timely manner. Breaking out the laptop only in the evenings meant I usually had to choose between getting something done and spending time with my husband. Previously, I was able to get most of that stuff done during brief quiet moments throughout the day, leaving evenings free for watching a show or playing a game with the husband. This was a point of frustration for me. It made it even harder for me to get time alone, whether to relax, to write, or to work.
I don't have a good solution for this increased difficulty in juggling things when the laptop remains closed during the day. Cut down on my responsibilities? Set aside one day to have it open and catch up on things that have built up during the rest of the week? I'm not sure, but the list of benefits indicates that it would be worth it to brainstorm some more and see what I can come up with.
And now onward I go to day 81!
Postscript: Unfortunately, I've since let go of this habit of leaving the laptop closed during the day. I am better, however, at closing it and walking away for large chunks of time, and I feel its distracting pull less than I used to. Now that the sunshine is emerging more, however, I'm feeling the desire to reinstate the laptop-closed-during-the-day rule completely.
If you avoid computer use during the day, do you find it difficult to balance online responsibilities, social media, alone time, and time with your spouse during the evenings? What works for you?