Going Off is a Good Thing

The frustration was boiling up inside of me. How could this be happening? It was the beginning of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day! I had everything planned perfectly for productivity:

My writing routine was in check:

Before noon √

Proven effective writing location √

Coffee √

Pre-outlined piece √

Wait a darn hot minute, why isn’t the Internet working? “Um excuse me, the Internet isn’t working.” Panic was setting in. What would I do without the end-all be-all Internet?

I would be more productive in less time than I have been in a LONG time.

After the panic subsided and I made the choice not to allow the lack of Wi-Fi control me, I began to write. Hello, you don’t even need the World Wide Web to write. As much as I love the luxury of my MacBook Pro, had it come down to it, I wouldn’t have even needed a computer. I could have pulled out a pen and put it to paper.

Here’s the thing, you are constantly telling yourself you need to be connected to the online world and for Earth to align perfectly between Mars, the Sun and Moon in order to work or be productive. I’m so not a scientific person so my analogy may not even be possible, but I do love a good episode of Big Bang Theory. Could I please meet Sheldon!?

What you are telling yourself and the reality of your situation is drastically different. You do not need to be connected online in order to be productive. Actually, what this little dilemma taught me was quite the opposite. You need to go off in order to accomplish more.

In my new 10-Day Success Challenge, I specifically outline a few tips on how to become more productive, two of them include removing distractions caused by connectivity. What’s that you say? But Stephanie, I don’t have ten days, I need this information now!

Ok Ok, I hear you. 

How going offline is a good thing:

  1. Focus. Cue the awesome soundtrack music because when you disconnect and go offline, you eliminate all of the pesky interruptions that distract and defocus you. Email and social media notifications alone are enough to keep you from getting any task done in a timely manner. Completely eliminate them and magic happens. Think you can’t, think again. Your email and social media are not that important, if it’s an emergency someone will CALL you. Has someone ever contacted you via your inbox or LinkedIn when they had to reach you immediately? Me either.
  2. Clarity. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” A quote from one of my favorite television series Friday Night Lights, and the perfect mantra for, well, anything. Clarity being the starting point. When you are able to have clarity, you are able to produce more. It’s why I outline my writing before beginning. If I know where I’m going it’s a lot easier to start. Side note: I open a past article to start a new piece so I’m not staring at a blank screen – because as a writer, a blank word doc is hella scary! Getting clear on what you are trying to accomplish is much easier when you disconnect and focus.
  3. Productivity. The side effect of going offline is the increased productivity. Why? You eliminate the ability to procrastinate. Reply, comment, like, open browser window, open another, read email, click through on link, three hours later…that action item on your to-do list you started on still isn’t done? Well no wonder! Cyber space is the modern day Alice and Wonderland rabbit hole and you are consistently and “accidentally” falling down it. Don’t fret. You are not alone. However, with this newfound awareness, you have the responsibility to choose to go down the rabbit hole or step around it.

Two ways to go offline effectively:

  1. Disciplined. Close out of email. Close out of Safari or Chrome or Internet Explorer, please tell me you don’t still use Internet Explorer, whichever you use. Put your computer to sleep if you do not need it to complete your task. This disciplined approach will boost your productivity by leaps and bounds.
  2. Extreme. Unplug, turn it off, or go where the Wi-Fi does not roam. This extreme approach may be necessary if you are unable to be disciplined. This is the approach I was forced into using but man was it effective. Know yourself and your tendencies. I know if I still have access to the temptation I may break and jump down the rabbit hole. I also know when I completely remove the temptation, I will be coerced into productivity and knock some major items off my list.

The Internet wasn’t working and I was supposed to write. Write indeed I did. I not only wrote two pieces, they were two pieces I had been struggling to finish for over a year. Maybe it wasn’t writers block like I had chalked it up to be. Maybe it was a mental block caused by the need to be connected everywhere online instead of being fully present offline. SMH, major insights for life in general right there.

I ask you, beg of you, and take the time to go off. It’s bound to be a wonderful, magnificent, all right, very good experience.

Promise.

Stephanie Melish
About the author: 

Stephanie Melish is the Chief Executive Officer @ Stephanie Melish, where she is an inspirational speaker, career coach and writer.  Follow her on Twitter.