I Spent 25 Days Without the Internet. Here’s What Happened:

As referenced in my previous post, I intended to spend the last few weeks of the summer fully disconnected. On the evening of Thursday August 11th, I turned off my laptop and deleted all the internet related apps and email. My phone was essentially a really expensive flip phone w/ Google Maps. While disconnected from work was a big part of the experiment, the real goal was to see what happened with I didn’t have a screen to fill my down time. Waiting at the airport, sitting on a train, killing time on a Sunday morning, how different would this time feel?

By the Numbers:

Email:

  • Business emails: 1188
  • Personal emails: 744
  • Required reading: 51
  • Required responding: 22

Facebook/Linkedin

  • Notifications 123
  • Friend Requests 9
  • Messages: 6

Books Read:

  • Alexander Hamilton (ok 65% done)
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (ok 75%)
  • The Shelf Life of Happiness
  • American Gods
  • In Good Faith
  • The Innocent Client
  • A Foolish Voyage

In a word, longer. There seemed to be more hours in every day. Each week I sketched out the days with to-do’s, adventures and appointments and would miraculously find blocks of two or three hours that didn’t seem to be there before. Each day felt more intentional. They had to be.  Because if I didn’t make a plan for my time I’d just end up staring at the wall.

Here’s the funny thing. The whole experiment wasn’t that hard. After the first week the habitual phone checking tendencies began to subside. I woke up in less of a hurry. I walked a lot. I made dinner. Went to baseball games. Had diner breakfasts. Read a newspaper. Washed my car. Exercised more. Spent less money. I texted people. Made phone calls. Wrote letters on paper.

And you know what, business didn’t collapse. Clients didn’t get angry. Most email wasn’t that important. Donald and Hillary still dominate the news. The Buffalo Bills are setting up for another disappointing season. The world keeps on spinning.

I haven’t internalized how I’ll apply the lessons learned, but I committed to putting systems in place that prevent me from wasting time surfing the web that would be better spent outside, reading, or staring at the wall.

Week-by-Week:

Week 1: Distractions & Detox

Digital Detox Home Screen

My Home Screen For 25 days

I spent the first few days of the detox at the World Domination Summit, connecting with other adventure seekers, entrepreneurs and non-conformists. This was the easiest few days of the detox as my days and nights were packed start to finish. That said, I found myself spending less time in the hotel than I typically would have. The crutch of the web at your fingertips makes it a whole lot easier to waste an hour here or there.

Once I got home, the real challenge began. Sitting at home without any distractions is a whole different ball game. I’d find myself reading, training the dog and exercising all by 10 am and in need of other activities, which it turns out was projects.

screenshot-2016-09-07-12-51-16Adventures:

  • Portland WDS scavenger hunt/fun run
  • Long trail run through Forest Park in Portland
  • Underground hike through Ape Cave, Washington State

Revelations:

  • There is a lot more hours in the day.
  • Renting a car without using the internet is a pain in the ass.
  • Going to a restaurant without checking the reviews gives me anxiety.
  • I still check my phone 10x times a day only to realize there is no apps to check.

Top

Week 2: Settling In

This is when the hard period really set in. I’d pretty much run out of house projects. A guy can only read so much. Exercise can only fill so many hours. The days really slowed down and it honestly felt like there were 2x the number of hours in any given day.

To fill the time, I’d set a goal to write a letter each day and while I didn’t manage 25 letters, I did get 10 or so out, the bulk of which I knocked out during the second week.

screenshot-2016-09-07-12-51-28

Note: Both blue days were MTB ride days, hence less steps.

Adventures:

  • Mountain biking Susquehanna State Park
  • Schuylkill River Trail bike bar crawl.

Revelations:

  • I do not miss social media at all.
  • Getting the weather report from the newspaper is annoying.
  • I have no idea what is happening in the news (not totally a bad thing)
  • One can only read so much non-fiction.
Top

Week 3: Where did all these hours come from?

I found myself settling into a routine and feeling fairly productive. The urge to check my phone had subsided. I felt less “bored”, which I think was actually the addiction to filling down time with the web beginning to fade a bit.

screenshot-2016-09-07-12-51-36

Adventures:

  • Pinnacle & Pulpit Rock AT loop
  • Attended 2 m3inor league baseball games
  • Tried “floating” or sensory deprivation

Revelations:

  • I do not miss social media at all.
  • Getting the weather report from the newspaper is annoying.
  • I have no idea what is happening in the news (not totally a bad thing)
  • One can only read so much non-fiction.
Top

Week 4: Prepare for Re-entry

In the last 3-4 days of the detox I found myself settling into a routine and feeling fairly productive. The urge to check my phone had subsided. I felt less “bored”, which I think was actually the addiction to filling down time with the web beginning to fade.

Adventures:

  • Swim across Seneca Lake
  • 2 Finger Lakes National Forest Trail runs
  • 2 full boat/lake days

Revelations:

  • I now have more anxiety about checking back in than I did about not checking in a couple weeks back?
  • Can you just pre-delete all emails?
  • Wait, college football starts this week?

So what went wrong?

All and all very little that couldn’t be rectified. I had a late payment on a business account that was set to auto-draft incorrectly. I paid a bit more for a flight I couldn’t purchase while off the web. I missed a fantasy football league draft. I had a mediocre meal or two. I had a couple client related fire drills, that the LooseGrip team handled easily.

Worth the trade off on the above? I’d say with out question. 

 

Leave a Reply