I've been working on writing more about the book tour, but I've been a bit stumped. See, I've been LOVING not being online so much.
While we were gone, I checked Twitter and email once or twice a day, when I could. I made sure there were no publishing fires (or fires of any other kind for that matter) and I responded only to the things that needed a response.
Know what? There weren't that many emails that REALLY needed a response. And I loved that feeling that I had more time for life. Because I did have more time. It was great.
Since I've been home, I've found myself dealing with a bit of resentment for all the time it took me to stay on top of everything online. Then I started wondering if I could put myself back on vacation-time albeit without outdoor tubs or crocodile sightings.
Here are the things I'm experimenting with:
1. No push notifications on phone. I don't need to know if anyone has emailed/Twittered/Facebooked me. I don't. If someone really needs me, they'll call me (and my ringer will be off as it always is, and I'll see the missed call two hours later, but that's another story). Related: no pop-up notifications on the computer.
2. No Twitter app open on my computer. I'm checking it once or twice a day on my phone, skimming through quickly, sending articles I might want to read to Pocket (a great app) for offline reading when I have the time/inclination. As a Twitter addict, this is the hardest part so far.
3. No Facebook open ever. (This is easy. I post things to Facebook from Hootsuite but I almost never go to the site itself because I abhor it as a platform.)
4. EMAIL CLOSED. What? This is the biggest, hardest thing so far (I take back that part about Twitter being the hardest. I was wrong). The other night I was lying in bed, thinking about all the time I lose online, and I thought with a tiny flash of rage about the fact that emails were always coming in, and I never got to ignore them like I did while on vacation. After all, my email inbox needed to be open at all times on my computer, and I'm on or near my computer for most hours of most days (either at the day job or at the writing job).
Then I had this stunning realization. I could close the email window. I swear to all that is holy, this had never occurred to me as an option. What do you do when you restart your computer? Start email, right? It's always there in the background. I couldn't even begin to guess how many times a day I glanced at it.
Now: I'm checking email when I wake up and clearing it to zero (with the judicious use of Sanebox, which I use to send emails to future dates and times — they land in my inbox again and I deal with them then — I use this a LOT. It might be fake zero inbox, but it works for me.) Then I'm checking again around 1pm, near the close of the business day in the New York publishing world, and once at night (and neither of those times do I try to clear the inbox, I'm just making sure there's nothing that needs immediate response).
5. Being okay with dropping things. I take it back! THIS is the hardest thing so far! I'm working on not feeling guilty for putting things off. While I was gone, I did miss one thing that was kind of important, and you know what? The person who needed the info emailed me again saying, "Hey, did you get my email?" It spurred me into action, and no one was harmed in the process. I cleaned up my email when I got home from almost a month away, and there was only one thing I really needed to apologize for not doing. So I did. And it was done.
Dude, I work 911. I have for fifteen years. I think I have this knee-jerk OH MY GOD IT'S AN EMERGENCY DO IT NOW reaction for, well, just about everything. Laundry not done? How will we go on? Dinner not planned? Lord help us all! Emails stacking up? CODE RED CODE RED!
I'm dumping that attitude. Right now.
In the free time I have, I hereby pledge to: write, knit, spin (oh, I'm spinning some Anna Gratton merino fiber that is so amazing I could just die), walk, play, and rest.
In delicious irony, I give to you a great video — I loved the song already, and I adored the video when I saw it this morning (after following a link from Twitter. Hey. No one's perfect).
Passenger, Scare Away the Dark
All of the above I've only been doing for about 24 hours. I'm no success story, and I may break and go back to normal in another hour. But I don't think so. Stripping it down like this feels good so far. It feels right.
What about you? Any time saving get-off-the-internet-and-have-a-life tips? Keeping in mind that we all, actually, have to be on the internet sometimes?
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