Yesterday I wrote about how introverts handle outside space, and the possible over stimulation of being out in public. Today I’d like to write about the over stimulation of being “outside” on the internet. Having a noisy internet life is every bit as draining to an introvert as spending every evening in a crowded pub. It’s time to learn to control that life just like I’ve learned to control my external world. (Note: the references in this posting can apply equally to introverts and extroverts. For introverts, it’s just another way of quieting the mental noise lots of us live with.)
One of my favorite Introvert authors is Beth Buelow, writer of The Introvert Entrepreneur. I’m not an entrepreneur yet, but I’m working toward that goal. Whether you’re in business for yourself, work for someone else, or have retired completely, she has wonderful things to inspire you. (Check out her book on the Introverts Info page.)
Beth recently posted “5 Habits I’m Changing After My Wonderful Webfree Week“, a blog that has been sticking in my mind. It talks about how we use our internal public space, the internet. So many of us spend a lot of time connected to the internet. It’s the perfect place for introverts to gather because we can control so much of our experience, and do it in a way that we can’t do with the outside world. Click the X to close a window would be quite handy in real life sometimes, wouldn’t it? That annoying co-worker standing over your desk and chatting away? Click the X and poof, they’re gone. Lovely idea.
I already knew that I was easily pulled in a hundred different directions when I’m on line. One look at the amount of tabs in my browser window will tell you how easily distracted I can be. It’s like candy for the introvert mind. Places to go, things to see, all at your fingertips. It’s so easy.
Maybe it’s too easy. When I’m feeling pressured to put out the next day’s blog, it can be distracting. I have a dozen ideas in my head and while I research one, another two dozen appear. After a while I’m overwhelmed, have a headache and am getting rather snappy. You might as well just drop me down into a major shopping mall during a huge sale. Sometimes I think I get addicted to the over stimulation possible on the internet. I don’t spend huge amounts of time on line, but what I do spend can get frantic in my desire to consume new information, so I’m trying new habits in order to conserve my energy.
Beth decided to go off the grid for a week. Since she makes her living on the internet, she had to make a few concessions to her plan. I thought her ideas were good enough that I’m going to copy some of them…. most of them. Here’s the scoop (the quotes are from Beth’s blog, the rest are my good intentions):
New Habit #1: Boundaries!
No more checking email or social media while I’m in a prone position under warm blankets and a purring cat. And no more browsing the web while watching TV.
OK, I at least don’t take the electronics into the bedroom, but I am going to leave my iPad in my office and not take it into the TV room. Cee is going to cheer about that one because she’s always on me about giving my eyes a rest. So I’m going to go cold turkey to start with and hopefully we’ll still be married at the end of a week.
New Habit #2: Go “old school” in the browser
No more than two tabs can be open at any time, and they have to be “related.” I’d prefer to have only one open at a time, but sometimes it’s more efficient to work with pages side-by-side. I’ve been practicing this for a few days now, and it makes a huge difference in my ability to focus when I have to be online. I force myself to finish with a tab before I move to a new one. It’s like the old days, when we didn’t have tabs.
This one will be hard to do, but it’s something I need to do. Every time I sit down to write, I end up with a bajillion tabs open, all filled with good ideas to follow up on. I tried to organize them with Evernote but I was still overwhelmed. So now I’m limiting myself to two tabs. (Yeah, I think I hear Cee laughing in the background.)
New Habit #3: The forest, not the trees
No more obsessing over the comings and goings, likes and dislikes of people in my virtual universe.
No more checking stats every two minutes. I will continue to put out the best content and hope people still like it. I’ll look at the numbers once a week. Or at least once a day for now. In the beginning it’s fun having a growing and popular blog but after a while you start fretting about how to keep it growing. I’m not going to sacrifice quantity for quality, so it’s time to chill out a little. Introverts tend to be perfectionists and love watching people, even if it is just the stats on the blog, so this might be a little challenging for me.
New Habit #4: Monotasking
No more splitting my attention using the web. When I go online, I’m on for a purpose, and when I’m done, I’m done. Even writing this post without clicking away every few minutes to read the news, check the weather or see what I’m missing on Twitter is WORK. I’m even having to resist being pulled into email or an outline I’m working on.
Guilty as charged. Stick to the task at hand. Squash the interruptions, and get it done. That’s my new mantra. I’ve going to set the timer for 25 minutes and get my blog done without the distractions. Hopefully.
If you need more ideas on how to tame your noisy inner space, check out How to Focus in the Age of Distraction.
You can get a copy of the free ebook, Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction here: FocusFree
How unruly is your online world? Do you need a little peace and quiet, a way to get your electronic way under control?
Hi. I’m Chris. I’m an introvert. Look for my ongoing series debunking the introvert myths (Sunday) and introvert cartoons (Wednesday), plus anything else interesting that I find in the meantime. Come and share with like-minded introverts. I also contribute to the new food blog Three’s Cooking, learning to cook from the heart, for the soul.