Over the past six to eight months I’ve been cutting back on the amount of time I spend online. It’s been a journey well worth taking. It all started when I realized I was online for at least two or three hours a day, somedays much more. It was adding up to twenty or more hours a week. That’s a lot.
I’m a single dad with a full-time teaching job. It’s impossible for me to spend twenty hours a week online and still work at my best as a dad and a teacher. I was getting stressed out and not spending enough quality time with my daughter, Annie. Something had to give. So I started evaluating how I was spending my online time at home. Here’s what I discovered:
Online time at home:
1. Blogging: 40%
2. Social Networking: 30%
3. Email: 15%
4. Google Analytics: 5%
5. Other stuff: 10%
Blogging has clearly taken the biggest chunk of time. So I began looking for ways to minimize the time I spend blogging. Here’s what I’ve done. I’ve simplified my blog and I started posting less often. I visit and comment on other blogs less often. I cut back on how many times I share posts on social networks. I was concerned that these tactics might kill my traffic. I’m not going to lie. My traffic is down, but nowhere near as much as I expected. Traffic has decreased by about 10% over the past few months.
The next thing I did was study my Google Analytics page. I wanted to know where the majority of my referrals were coming from. I discovered that Facebook and Twitter were the only two social networks that brought significant amounts of visitors. So I stopped using all the other networks. I also stopped visiting most blogs that did not bring traffic or engagement in conversation my way. Again, I was worried about my numbers. Again, there was very little change.
Next, I deleted all my extra email accounts other than my three main Gmail accounts: one for my blog, one for personal business, and one for professional business.
Finally, I temporarily let go of my Internet service. That’s right. I’m working from Starbucks right now. I wanted to change Internet providers and I decided to go without a provider for a few months.
So here’s what spending less time on the Internet has done for me:
1. I spend more time with my daughter.
2. I spend more time outdoors working in my yard, walking, running, hiking, and biking.
3. I spend more time writing poetry, songs, and working on book projects
4. I spend more time socializing in face-to-face mode.
5. I find that I feel healthier and less stressed out.
As a blogger and a writer, the Internet is a great tool for getting my work seen and heard. But I discovered that the amount of time it takes to grow a blog quickly and exponentially is overwhelming. Without time and money, growing a blog to reach large numbers of people in a short time is a pipe dream. I’ve decided that my time and my sanity are more important than numbers.
I’m not going to give up blogging. I believe in my writing. I’m an artist. If nothing else I will always use my blog as my pallet, a place to post stories, poems, and songs. This fall when I reconnect with Internet at home I hope to make a few minor updates to the blog. Until then I’ll be enjoying my time in the mountains, on the lakes, and in my back yard.
Question: How much time do you spend online? Could you be more productive spending some of that time elsewhere?