I think that waiting until the end of the month to post my New Year’s resolutions will pay off. It actually took me the entire month to contemplate what I really need to change about my daily life to make my overall life better. I wanted to make resolutions this year that would count, and to which I can give considerable attention.
I used to be one of those people who thought resolutions were pointless, but in reflection, I’ve always celebrated the New Year with some goal for myself or set forth some purpose I wanted to achieve. Before the holiday, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Her take on resolutions cleared my mind of any negative perceptions I had about them. Rubin writes that resolutions are different than goals, perhaps even better, because they are things that we continuously resolve to do. Yep, that’s right, they are things we strive to do every day.
Now that I have a new understanding of resolutions, I have a couple of major ones to consider, and they have to do with the Internet. While I am often on the computer writing schools papers, working on creative endeavors, or answering work emails, there are times (many of them) when I am plopped in front of my computer with no real task at hand. One recent afternoon, I spent an hour on the Verizon website looking at and reading about the iPhone, just because, and then perused Facebook for exactly 44 minutes. I interrupted the writing of this post for an unsuccessful ten-minute search for the perfect Charley Harper desktop background, and I hate to confess that occasional afternoon Web visits are sprinkled with Googling random people.
So this year, I resolve to do the following:
- Know when it’s time to connect
How will I know when it time to connect? When I find myself needing to complete a real task on the Internet. My current job requires me to plan lessons for students in a leadership program. Each week we have a new topic to consider, and each week, I find myself on the Carnegie Library’s website looking at pertinent books that either I can use for a session or that my students will find interesting. I Google activities when appropriate, and everyday I have to communicate about job-related information via email. Sometimes, I am on the search for the least expensive, but most durable supply. All of this can take three or more hours, depending on the day and topic, so I have to wonder why after all of that, I would want to spend another second perusing the Web.
- Know when it’s time to disconnect
This one doesn’t take a lot of thought. It’s time to disconnect when my work is finished, when I find myself aimlessly clicking, when I’ve lost track of time, when I can’t remember the last time I ate, etc. One morning, I sat down to type a poem. After typing a few words, I started to think about how nice it would be if I could fund my writing. This led to a Google search about grants for poets and writing fellowships. Before I knew it, a couple of hours had passed. I found the information I was looking for, but I never finished the poem. You can’t be a poet without the poem(s). More importantly, you can’t be a funded poet without the poem(s). Enough said.
- Spend 20 minutes in the morning and/or evening taking care of Internet miscellany, i.e. checking email, ordering that book I need/want, reading the news and blogs, Googling the random topic that interested me for the day, but no more than 20 minutes.
When I sat down to think about how much time I spend doing mindless things on the Internet, I realized the mindlessness started after about 20 minutes. It really does take less than a half hour for me to read the important headlines, check and respond to emails, order the latest book of interest, etc. I can’t tell you the amount of time I will save if I stick to this rule. Currently, I check my email every hour when I am not working, and when I am working, it’s almost every hour after I arrive home until I go to bed. Believe me when I say, my regular correspondence is not important enough to be answered as soon as it hits my inbox. Here, I’m reminded of two of my mom’s best sayings:
1. It’s not going anywhere (meaning most things).
2. If it’s important, they’ll call you back (or in relation to email: your response is important to them, so if you take 8 hours instead of your usual 5 minutes, they’ll still look for it and without thinking poorly of you).
My mom tends to be right about these things.
So, who knows what will happen now that I’ve officially decided to spend less time on the Internet. With more time on my hands, I might write a book, paint a mural, make new friends, learn French . . . I think the possibilities are endless.