Taming my noisy internet life

distractionsYesterday 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.

17 thoughts on “Taming my noisy internet life

  1. My online interactions can be crazy at times. During the week, I welcome the distraction, I am just trying to get better about unplugging on the weekends. The phone makes it too easy to stay connected sometimes. Now if we’re going out and my son has his phone, I’ll leave mine behind. I’ve also turned off a lot of the notifications on my phone (including Facebook).

    I think I could get down to three tabs, which is an improvement for me 🙂

  2. These are great tips! There are so many distractions out there that it is so hard to finish one train of thought. I am really going to work on the tabs tips, I always have so many tabs open and I juggle between them all constantly.

  3. Pingback: Taming my noisy internet life | Libatech

  4. Chris – as usual, you are right on target. It is so hard to complete one online task before getting distracted. Part of my problem is the browser and software snafus that require a “soft reboot” because every time I do that, I want to read someone’s new post that just hit my “reader” screen…. like yours just did!!!

  5. I had to learn this lesson a while ago. I have all my notifications about blog posts come to my email as I find it the easiest way for me to follow. There have been days when I have opened my email & found 300 new items to view! I have a couple of people I follow who post multiple times per day & comment a lot! I have found the easiest way for me to deal with this is to go through this list methodically: 1) I skim down all the comments quickly, if I find a post is generating a lot of nonsense comments I go to my dashboard & turn off the remainder of comments for that post. I do this until all the comments have been dealt with. 2) I go back to the new posts & look for people who do shorter posts with lots of pics & read them first. This way I can reduce the overwhelming number in my inbox. 3) Finally I get to the posts which are a little longer to read. I make a good faith effort to read as many as I can in 1 sitting. When I’m done, I’m done for the day. I almost never go back to reading blogs again later in the day because I have too many other distractions going on around me (with an unemployed hubby who wants to watch TV or vacuum, etc.) 4) I close down my emails for the day & move onto something else.
    If, while I’m reading posts or surfing the internet, I find ideas for posts I have 2 places where I store these ideas: I have a file in my documents called Blog Post Ideas where I make a quick note about something l’d like to follow up on at a later time or I go to the dashboard of my post & make a small notation in the drafts folder for future reference. This way I am not distracted by the ideas of another posts when I may be trying to read or write blogs.

  6. So many people are writing about this at the moment, although no-one has broken it down so specifically. The approach has been all or nothing. It seems we all recognise how much of an impact our online life is taking over. It is so distracting and makes us less productive rather than more so. I’m definitely going to try and cut down….although maybe not wordpress quite yet 🙂

  7. I’m pretty good on the web, but I’ve had years of honing it down. Now I rarely have more than 2 or 3 tabs going and they are usually connected. When I do my posts, I concentrate on that and nothing else. I have most of my following of blogs go to email as it’s easier to handle. I don’t sweat it if I can’t ready everyone every day. There is no way I can do that so I don’t stress about it. If I have ideas come to me, I write them down in a notebook for further investigating. They can wait. I have what I think is a pretty good system. 🙂

  8. I find this interesting, but I have the opposite problem, I never know what to do on the internet!!! it frustrates me as I know there is a “whole, wide web” of content out there, but once I sit at the computer y mind goes blank and I just don’t know what I want to look at. I must confess to also being a bit of a neat/control freak, so I just really, really, really like to finish one thing before I go onto the next thing. Having multiple tabs open at the same time is a big challenge for me. 🙂

  9. I am not in introvert, but I don’t like to spend all my time on the Internet. So, I put myself on the clock for about 30-40 minutes total, when it rings I get off until the next time I am on again. I let it happen about three times a day and no more.

  10. I have to come back when I can read this in full – but Chris I just wanted to say that you are writing some amazing stuff – your research, wisdom, and knowledge is delivered in such a relate-able and understanding manner. I look forward to reading more of this – and the other posts. Thanks! ~y.

Share with us!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s