February 5, 2015
Time and attention are two of the most precious resources we have, and the always on internet is one of the worst things for draining and disrupting those resources. (This is something I have been thinking about for a few years now.) Most of the great thinkers, innovators and so on of the past had one thing in common – their ability to focus on what they were doing for hours at a time. This type of thinking is crucial to certain types of breakthrough and productive work. (I have a faint terror that the current generation will never even develop this capacity for extended focus.)
So I am embarking upon an internet restriction protocol. This is based on the observations I made a few years ago when I went and lived at the beach without internet, television or phone, and came to town only once a week at which point I checked email etc, and my dissatisfaction with my current experience of online mediated reality.
The protocol is essentially this: I am going to stop checking my email and social media accounts except for one day a week – Fridays. (I will likely check my business email address more regularly.) Within the protocol I am allowed to use the internet consciously, as a tool, in recognition of how embedded it is in life. (eg) internet banking, buying stuff, research, Skypeing. But then get offline once I am done using it as a tool.
The key is to avoid general browsing and mindless clicking on things that leads to more clicking. I like the idea of checking my /mutants list on Twitter once a week for an hour as my information gathering phase.
The goal is to be offline as much as possible; to shift that fundamental practice, to realign my sense ratios, and re-engage more consciously with the world. After spending a week lying under trees at Kiwiburn, I realised again that I don’t miss most of the online world. I acknowledge it is somehow important, but hypothesise that this importance can be successfully and accurately valued within the confines of one day a week.
I suspect that one day a week is enough to stay informed/connected in terms of email and social media. If anything really important happens I assume someone will call or txt.
I do plan to spend some of the time freed up hanging out with people in meatspace, pursuing a better quality of connection.
I anticipate getting more done in general, writing more in particular, and being happier overall.
I may blog from time to time about the results of this experiment in attention and filtering. I invite anyone else who feels inclined to join in the experiment.