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Creating a balance between your online and offline life

When I got back from my vacation in France I was immediately in the pitt fall: about 30 minutes after I got home, I turned on the computer and checked my work emails.
A day later, I already felt that little familiar stress bug. If I didn’t want to feel stressed out like I did before the vacation, I needed to make some changes.

When the wifi signal makes you weak…

While in France I was completely stress-free and happy. I was drawing and painting, taking hikes, swimming in a lake… But most importantly: I didn’t have wifi 24/7. There was a fast food shop in town and when I really needed to check my email, I went there, ordered a McFlurry and answered some emails.

There I realised I had found a perfect balance: doing what I was supposed to do during the day, and checking my email every three days. I wasn’t checking my phone constantly if I had a new email, or a new Instagram-like: I knew I didn’t have wifi so there was no need. Not checking my phone every 30 minutes gave me peace of mind.

I came up with a 7-steps-plan to fit this perfect balance in my daily life.

Going hiking is perfect for being offline

7-step plan for less internet/more living

Step 1
Delete apps you don’t really need on my phone: facebook messenger, facebook itself and twitter. I decided to keep Instagram because it contributes a lot to my work.

Step 2
Drag the email icon to a folder you can’t easily get to. I still need email, being a freelancer, but not every hour.

Step 3
All notifications off. No more beeping when you have a text message, no notifications of social media. I didn’t have the last one anyway, but I can recommend this to anyone.
The moment the light of your phone goes on, we’re in immediate need to check it. It takes away all of your concentration.

Step 4
Log out of Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts on your phone and on your computer, every time. This makes it harder to check because you first need to log in.

Step 5
No phone in bed. You can stimulate this by leaving your charger in your living room for example and charge it during nights. Research showed that looking at your phone screen at night is harmful to your sleeping patterns but also incredibly harmful to your eyes. Be wise, put down that phone!
If your phone is also your alarm clock: buy an old-fashioned alarm clock. They go for €1 at Ikea. Just saying.

Step 6
Set your phone to ‘Do not disturb’ at night.
When you have an iPhone you can even do this automatically and you can set your own time. You can still allow phone calls if you only get called in emergencies. Or your mother. Mothers always call 🙂

Step 7
Leave your phone home. When I’m going to the grocery store or pick up an errand, I don’t take my phone with me.
The other day, I was in the hospital and didn’t have it with me. I looked around and everyone was playing with their phone. I picked up a magazine about psychology in the waiting room and still enjoyed myself.

Let's Wander Offline - Marloes De Vries

Want a visual reminder of the joy of wandering offline? You can buy this print here!

A bit of app-help

And yes, after four days I totally screwed up: I logged in to facebook on my phone and there I was, scrolling again. I have to remind myself time and time again that I really need to log out, also from the computer. Otherwise my mouse will got the the address-space, type in ‘f-a’ and the rest will autocomplete itself. It’s that easy and sad.

Yesterday I installed an app called ‘Moment’ that tracks how much I am on my phone during the day. I still use that thing too much, even without facebook or other social media installed on it. My goal is to keep it around an hour a day. That’s going to be a challenge.

I don’t need the internet to be creative

I felt like I constantly needed to be entertained by cat videos, facebook updates, instagram photos, news sites. But I discovered I really like wandering around the city, or going for a hike in the woods.
I was looking for inspiration on the web, but then it hit me: most of my inspiration comes when I am walking, pondering en wandering around. No internet involved. It’s my brain that does the imagining.

Does this mean I wrote off the internet completely?
Of course not, silly. The internet is a magnificent tool to get your art out there, to connect with people, to research subjects you love. Without the internet and social media I wouldn’t be where I am today.

It’s all about finding a balance. I wasn’t happy with the amount of time I spent on the internet so I needed to cut back. I want to be outdoors more, work more on personal projects, while I was spending about three hours too many on the internet on a daily basis.
It’s totally okay to be online! As long as you don’t feel personally overwhelmed.

You have to decide for yourself what works for you. But if you feel you’re being swallowed by social media, these 7 steps might come in handy.

Thank you for reading this post and I’d love to hear if you have any tips on how to find balance in life. Do leave a comment and feel free to share this post with friends and family!

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