One of my (21) New Years Resolutions this year is to quit watching TV. The aim – to redistribute TV watching time into writing time, not just this blog, but contracted articles and the book I’m working on. Quitting TV has been easy enough, since moving to Melbourne I haven’t actually owned a TV. Problem solved.

I do, fortunately, have Melbourne Live running outside my apartment 24/7, which has been much more interesting than any TV program.

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Quitting internet surfing was not one of my New Years Resolutions.

I moved into my apartment two weeks ago and proceeded to have no Wifi for ten days. It turns out, getting broadband to ones home in Australia is not just a case of buying a router and plugging it in. I won’t bore you with a detailed description of my Australian broadband frustrations, suffice to say, a technician was required to come to my home and actually install internet and, unfortunately for me, that process took ten days and a morning off work.

Technically I didn’t have no internet for the entire ten days, because of course nearly all of those days I was at work, using the internet, but besides checking emails, I had no time to do anything personal whatsoever. I also used GoogleMaps to navigate and occasionally check social media on my phone. Add to that, I went down to the mall a couple of times to sit in McDonalds’ free Wifi zone so that I could update my blog and do some research.

To someone in 1996 it sounds like I was on the internet a whole lot over the last ten days! But most of us in 2016 can’t survive without Wifi in our homes, hands and minds 24/7. The internet has become out entertainment, our work, our knowledge, our organiser and, to most of us – a distraction.

What I learned without Wifi for ten days?

Strangely enough, after a few days I became very accustomed to having no internet access and became weirdly productive. As I was in my apartment, reading books, writing and admiring my ridiculous new view (many photos of which accompany this blog post), it crossed my mind – what is it that I actually do on the internet? What is it that I’m missing right now?

What did I miss? 

  • I wasn’t up-to-date with Casey Neistat’s daily vlog. (That’s ten videos I needed to catch up on).
  • I didn’t see one inspirational TED talk or interview.
  • I wasn’t able to research Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, which I’m currently reading. (I love to research the author/director/actor/creator and learn about their life story).
  • I wasn’t able to do some career based research on my list.
  • Buying things of GumTree (Australia’s E-bay) was nearly impossible.
  • One word… Spotify.
  • Netflix. I haven’t had Netflix in over and year, but with everyone talking about Making a Murderer I was dying to get back on that bandwagon… and still am. (Does that count as TV?)
  • Skype!

What didn’t I miss?

  • Mindless scrolling through Facebook
  • Aimlessly flitting through websites and blogs without getting deep on a topic (unlike when reading a book). As Hossein Derakhshan said “I miss when people took time to be exposed to opinions other than their own, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters.”
  • Youtube’s automatic play feature
  • Promotional emails
  • Mindless checking of social media on my phone.
  • News websites (yea, that surprised me too.)
  • Looking at a screen instead of the view…

Now that I’m re-connected to the World Wide Web, I’ve had some thoughts on how I use the internet. It surprised me how much time I used to spend checking emails that weren’t really important, reading articles that were poorly researched and weren’t really adding anything substantial to my knowledge, scrolling through social media posts that weren’t extremely relevant or interesting to me and just generally mucking around instead of being productive.

While I love blogs and social media, Youtube, Spotify and Netflix, I’ve decided to edit the way in which I experience these things, to increase productivity and to, hopefully, live a more present existence. As a little challenge to myself I’m aiming to:

  • Quit aimless scrolling through social media
  • Quit obsessive phone checking
  • Quit reading articles that have enticing titles, but no real substance
  • Never read the comments on any post or video… ever! (Because what John from Alabama thinks of Mark Zuckerberg’s latest post really doesn’t matter or enhance my life in any way).
  • Turn off my phone or computer the second I realise I’m not being productive (I imagine this will happen a lot!)

As with anything in life, there is a balance.

I don’t want to miss things like this:

…but I do want to skip things like this:

Like I said – it’s a fine balance, but as an easy guide – I think I’m realising that the real world is nearly always better than the one on the screen…

Until next time xx