I’m not sure why I’ve been resisting starting a journal here, I can see the value and enjoy reading other people’s, but I guess it just hasn’t ever seemed like a good time to write one. But now I feel like it’s a good time to jump in, if for no other reason than to keep myself accountable.
I have been on the No Surf journey for the last 5+ years. During this time I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, some successes and many more failures, some of which I might write about in the future. Coming into this new attempt I have already successfully stopped using social media, deleting my Facebook account and only having Twitter accounts that automatically post content from my website. I have also had a locked down phone for more than a year (no browser or other distracting apps). That was a pretty good starting place, but I think No Surf is a mindset and even with these restrictions, I still found myself wasting a lot of time online.
The main impetus for starting this time was that the restrictions I had setup on my work computer were removed so I suddenly found myself sitting in front of a computer for 7.5 hours a day with very few restrictions and it wasn’t long before I was wasting time again on a massive scale.
So a few weeks ago I posted on here asking for advice on how people handle unrestricted internet on their work computers, hoping for a magic-pill I suppose, and getting some useful feedback. The most important thing, however, was the realisation that I could spend my whole life looking for the perfect tool to restrict my access to the internet and it still wouldn’t change anything. I’d had restrictions setup on my work computer for over a year and as soon as they were gone, I was right back where I started. What I needed to do was not change my tools, but change myself.
I came up with a plan, a simple set of habits that I wanted to build, and that’s really what I want to monitor here.
1. Drink a glass of water first thing: not strictly No Surf related, but it was a small thing that I could do every day and feel good about.
2. Write for 90 minutes: although I have been writing for years, and for the most part doing it daily, I have made this a habit as it is something I want to do instead of browsing the internet.
3. Write gratitude journal: this is related to another habit, I find it very useful to take a moment every morning to reflect on three things that I am grateful for during the last twenty-four hours.
4. Internet delay: this was the big one. Not a complete internet blackout as I have tried and failed at before, but a small and simple habit that I am building up daily. Initially this was for five minutes when I first got into work, but, by increasing it by a minute every day, and also implementing it when I get back from my tea breaks and lunch break, I now have 88 minutes every day when I am not surfing the web.
5. No Surf first: when I do go online, I have made it a rule that the very first website I go to is this one. This helps to reinforce my decision to do No Surf.
6. Leave tablet at work: I have access to a work tablet and it has been my downfall many times in the past. I think the phrasing of this habit is useful as I am not placing an outright ban on using it, all I have to do is leave work without it in my bag.
7. Meditate: this is something I am very pleased to have started and highly recomend it to everyone reading this. If you are sceptical then check out the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I have suffered with severe anxiety in the past and even after a short time, I can see that meditating is helping.
8. No Reddit: although I’d quit social media a while ago, I found myself wasting a lot of time on Reddit so not using that is now a habit.
9. No News: and when I stopped using Reddit, I found myself going to trashy news sites for the same rush. I have also decided not to visit news site, listen to news on the radio or watch it on television. If I want to see the news then I am going to have to buy a newspaper.
10. Leave restrictions enabled: after saying that I am making a point of changing myself rather than my tools, I have a confession to make; my phone and iPad (I have no other personal computer) are locked down to prevent me browsing the web, the app store or anything else that I consider a waste of my time. My wife has the passcode. This works very well, but only when I don’t ask her to remove the lock. Although she is willing to help me, we have two children so it isn’t fair for me to expect her to parent me as well. So the agreement is that she has the password, but I can ask for it any time I want. My goal here is to only do so once every 21 days, so that I can do app updates.
That’s my list of habits and so far it’s going very well. By the end of this year I should be up to 400 minutes a day without using the internet which is loads of time for all the other things that I need to do. To be honest, I no longer see complete abstinence from the internet as my end goal. If I can cut it down to a reasonable amount and use it in a way that is beneficial then that’s fine with me.