9 months offline – what I’ve learned

In this article you will learn:

  • Fat and sluggish – Why mindset and figure are ruined by surfing
  • Relentlessly Disclosed – These studies show why almost everyone should monitor their internet consumption
  • Experience report live offline – How suddenly more time, more energy and more enthusiasm are available
  • Immediate measures – How to control the flood of information, use the Internet more efficiently and throw off ballast

It’s been a good 9 months since I stopped my activities in social networks and limited my time on the World Wide Web to the bare minimum. Once a week I read and answered e-mails, in rare cases Google was used when I needed important information. Otherwise I was out. Offline. These are my experiences and the lessons I learned from them.

The only interesting question for me was: How does life change if you consistently limit your internet consumption?

Of course it wasn’t about living permanently without the internet. Who would want and be able to do without it? But I wanted to see what problems the internet might cause and how to solve them.

In doing so, I discovered that there is actually “only” one major problem: Excessive passive Internet consumption, also known as “surfing”.

However, this causes a number of symptoms that affect many of us.

# 1: Surfing shapes a reactive mindset

If you move aimlessly and haphazardly on the Internet, your brain is trained to react to external stimuli.

You are bombarded with it on the Internet. On Facebook, YouTube, on news sites – everywhere you are flooded with content and encouraged to click, read, watch.

We are particularly susceptible to this because this is how our “default mind” works. This is the state of our brain when “nothing is coming up”. We are then in reaction mode , ready to react to external stimuli.

So that’s natural in itself. However, we get into trouble if we stay in this state too often and for too long.

Because just like in physical fitness, we are ultimately a mirror of our habits. We are good at what we often do. What we seldom do we can do worse and worse.

The more often and longer we are in the reactive default mindset, the worse we get at concentrating. And we not only lose the ability to act purposefully and focused, but also that Motivation to do so!

Motivation is not only the cause , but also the by-product of our actions. Motivation arises and grows through action.

We’re surfing more and more …

This problem affects the vast majority of Internet users.

The analyst Ben Bajarin reported as early as 2016 on a statistic published by Apple (at that time it was about the advantages of the fingerprint sensor for faster unlocking of devices), according to which smartphones are unlocked an average of 80 times a day.

If we subtract 8 hours of sleep from the day, that means we pick up the cell phone every 12 minutes on average!

It can also be assumed that the average number of daily unlocks has continued to rise since then.

Anyone who uses their mobile phone so often does not do so in a targeted manner, of course, but usually just wants to “check whether there is something new” – and thus shape the reactive mindset.

Isn’t that the norm in society now? People’s attention spans are getting shorter, and there is less determination. According to a study by the University of Scranton, just 77% of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions for more than a week. After 2 years it was only 19%.

As a fitness trainer, I recognized this many years ago and changed my focus from “Which methods bring the best possible results” to “How do I get my clients to stick to it consistently”. This is the real challenge these days. Leave the comfort zone and act consistently (without being distracted).

The examination of the data from 32 fitness studios showed that 12.5% ​​of the members only exercise once a month and 32.5% do not exercise at all. That means: 45% of the memberships are pure waste of money.

The main problem is attitude.

Successes must, for example, occur overnight if possible, otherwise the search for a better program that promises faster success begins after 1-2 weeks. We call this phenomenon “program hopping”.

However, if you want to be successful, you need the right fitness mindset.

In reality

… namely, everything that is worth striving for requires persistence, focus and patience. In my experience, at least, that has been proven time and again – nothing of value arises overnight.

Therefore it is important to train and develop this ability to concentrate on an activity, to be maximally present, .

I have worked on it even more consistently in the last few months and can tell you that it changes EVERYTHING. Your training will be more effective, your diet will be healthier, your relationships with your fellow human beings will be better, you will be more efficient in all situations – at work as well as privately – and above all you will be happier, because you have the ballast no longer holds back from the past and the future.

A truly liberating feeling.

Focus is the key and that is also and especially true of the time you spend on the Internet. Passive consumption creates a volatile mind and a life without direction and vision.

# 2: Surfing floods your head with information

There is one thing the Internet offers in abundance: information. As soon as you go online, they flow unfiltered and from all directions.

Have you ever noticed how much text there is on a Facebook page? If you look at your timeline as normal – an advertisement here, an article there, a picture there. Everywhere information and opportunities for interaction.

That in turn has several consequences:

  1. You get lost in little things. That always happens when you lose focus and let information get to you unfiltered. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see what really counts and what is just superfluous ballast.
  2. You’re procrastinating. Honestly, it’s so easy to get distracted on the internet. Sometimes it comes in handy when you should do something that you don’t really feel like doing. We even have a word for it: procrastination. The problem is, you can’t make any headway and all that shit that you put off in front of you burdens you, adds up and at some point sticks to your hands. Better to tackle it right away …
  3. You live without reflection . Most of all, surfing helps keep you busy. Busy, not productive. The busier you are, the less time you have to take care of yourself and reflect. What happens then has been tried and tested a million times: indolence, destructive habits and, over time, frustration arise and spread like a damned California bushfire.
  4. You’re getting more stupid. I am completely serious. I felt it in myself. The more we fill our pears, the more stupid we become. Intelligence requires a clear and focused mind, which is blocked by superfluous ballast.

# 3: Surfing makes you sluggish

That is quickly explained: It is wonderfully pleasant and easy to “drift” on the Internet. Damn comfortable, and it’s getting easier and easier to turn our heads off.

Strictly speaking, that’s actually intentional, because if we’re honest, 99% of the time the internet is about selling something. It is best to address our emotional side instead of rational thinking.

However, when comfort becomes habit and spreads, and this is now more the rule than the exception, then life becomes torture, because discipline is lost and at some point even small things are outside the comfort zone.

The fundamental insight:

The easier you make your life, the more complicated and exhausting it gets.

That is why lazy people tend to be more irritable because they are often overwhelmed by life.

# 4: Surfing is bad for the eyes

A major study by the American Vision Council in 2016 found that around 80% of Americans looked at screens for more than 2 hours a day. Of these, 59% reported typical symptoms of digital eye stress .

Typical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain
  • irritated, red, dry Eyes

There is scientific evidence that excessive use of screens can damage eye health.

However, the exact causes for this have not yet been fully deciphered.

Recent evidence suggests that the increased amount of blue light in modern display technology (based on LEDs) can potentially harm eye health.

The connection between intensive screen consumption and reduced blinking frequency is also well documented and recognized.

With concentrated computer work, this can drop from an average of 20-40 beats per minute to less than 5 beats per minute. As a result, the eyes become drier, the outside temperature of the eye rises slightly, which in turn causes the water content of the tear fluid to evaporate more, the tear film thickens, the oxygen supply and aerobic metabolism of the cornea are impaired and free nerve endings in the cornea can be irritated – also known as itching. A compensatory supply through increased blood circulation then often leads to the familiar reddening of the eyes.

In the end, this confirms what has long been intuitively clear: namely that spending too much time in front of the screen can damage the eyes.

Experience # 1: Social Exclusion? On the contrary!

The first observation – you can live happily without being on social networks, constantly communicating and being up to date on everything!

During all this time, I by no means had the feeling that my social life had to suffer. On the contrary, I had more time and was out with friends more often.

I was even able to determine that the relationships with some people have deepened, precisely because there was no longer any communication via WhatsApp or Facebook, but only by phone in real life. In Messenger, people behave and communicate differently than in real life. Shorter, more compact, less profound, less personal. At least that’s my experience.

Experience # 2: More time. MUCH more time.

Once again I realized how much time you can actually waste without even realizing it. When you are “online”, it literally slips out of your hands.

Suddenly I had a lot more time than usual and could reinvest it as I wanted. Reading, exercising, meditating, working, going out – you have more time for EVERYTHING when you surf less. The weekend suddenly feels a lot longer.

Instead of killing time in front of screens, you can look at cities, attractions and, above all, explore the local area. It’s unbelievable how little I actually knew about my closer home. I only knew most of them by name and from the passage.

Visiting new places also helps to lead a life outside of your comfort zone, because all our routines are localized. That means: Your habits, especially those of a destructive nature, are in the brain with your everyday ones Environment linked.

If you change places, you can overcome destructive habits more easily. A great way to build momentum.

Experience # 3: More relaxed, more balanced, MORE ENERGY!

During this time I trained more than ever before and was much more relaxed and balanced . There were also stressful times in between, but they seemed to have less influence and to pass faster, because stress can apparently be better reduced OFFLINE.

You can do breathing exercises, meditations, yoga and the like – all good methods to reduce stress. In my experience, however, it doesn’t work as well as sitting under an old oak tree for half an hour at dusk and listening to the wind.

I now do this every night after training, simply because it really works! I’m talking about clearly noticeable relaxation and noticeably more restful sleep.

Maybe it sounds a little bizarre to you because it’s abnormal. But abnormal does not mean unnatural. Most people sit in front of the television in the evening. That is normal. Crazy, right?

So you really have to ask yourself: Who wants to be normal today?

To be normal means to be overweight, to struggle with back problems, diabetes or other affluent diseases, to sit most of the day, to pause in front of the TV, to have trouble sleeping, to be overly sensitive, not to be able to pull-ups having to play pool with a rope …

A little exaggerated, but it gets to the point. Maybe it’s time for new standards. Sitting outside for half an hour in the evening and doing NOTHING turned out to be the perfect transition from activity (the training before) to regeneration.

I am now even convinced that such a transition or trigger is necessary in order to be able to relax properly and regenerate completely.

Now I’m not necessarily a natural boy, but limiting my time surfing inevitably means “back to the roots”. And that, as my experiences have shown in the last few months, makes life much less complicated and gives noticeably more energy – our most important resource.

It is not the money and not even the time (because when you look closely, time problems always turn out to be a lack of energy) that prevent us from realizing our dreams. There is a lack of energy.

If you were wondering why this article appeared on a fitness page, now you have the answer:

Surfing steals a lot of energy, which in turn blocks the lifestyle towards smart fitness training and an athletic lifestyle.

Of course you can’t do without the internet, but that wasn’t the goal. Think of your energy like water flowing through a hose and the internet like a large-scale sprinkler.

So far, my energy has “watered” a lot of weeds (debris and ballast) in addition to the crops (in this metaphor, those things that are really important to me) (and chances are that it is no different with you) ).

The goal is now simply to direct the water more intensely on the crops, to invest your energy in those things that are important to you personally, that will bring you further and enrich your life.

That’s why I set up three simple rules for myself over a month ago, which so far have served their purpose perfectly:

§1: Set fixed time frames for “free” internet use

Free internet usage is now divided as follows:

  • 30 minutes for answering business emails – immediately before the lunch break
  • Another 30 minutes for surfing (sports news, news, social networks etc.) – in the late afternoon BEFORE my workout ( After that, relaxation is called for; screens are better off then)

By the way, it is very important not to put this time window on the morning. Many people start their day in such a way that they first look at their mobile phones, answer messages, surf the web, watch TV. Yes, that’s convenient, but you don’t get anything on the chain that way.

How you spend the morning shapes your mindset for the whole day.

If you let yourself go and start the day with just reacting to everything possible, you will hardly be able to muster the desire, energy and the necessary concentration to be productive, to get closer to your goals and yourself to take care of the things that really matter.

Conclusion: The morning is the time to act, not to react. “Internet consumption” should ideally take place at other times of the day and in a clearly defined time frame, otherwise things will end up quickly and you will wonder where the time has gone.

§2: Eliminate distractions

My cell phone is not unlocked in the morning and during the day. No WhatsApp, no emails. All notifications are deactivated anyway, which I can only recommend to everyone.

If you want to speak to me urgently, you can call me. Otherwise, I don’t allow any distractions. If I go online during this time, then only with my “mission”. To be productive, not to see what’s coming up.

That means: I use the Internet – and not the other way around.

Don’t let the internet use you! Use it to go your way. You have to set the rules. The internet should obey you, never the other way around.

To do that, you have to take radical and consistent action against distractions. There is no other way to regain control.

§3: Controlling the flow of information

Not only distractions, but the sheer volume of information is an issue. Here it is essential to set limits and organize yourself.

Limit information

The garbage will come by itself if we don’t actively prevent it. This is called entropy, according to which it is simply EXTREMELY MUCH more likely that the level of disorder will increase instead of decrease.

That’s why our buildings crumble over time, that’s why a broken laptop doesn’t repair itself. And that’s why you will find again and again that ballast builds up in your life if you don’t dispose of it regularly.

§1 and §2 are excellent starting points for limiting the flow of information. Other useful measures:

  • Limit news sites.
    I used to have multiple sources to stay up to date on social issues. That doesn’t make sense. Most of the news is negative, which leads to a pessimistic and simply wrong view of the world.
    An information diet is essential here.
    A news site, a sports news site. 2x a week. On the one hand, it is completely sufficient to have an overview and on the other hand, it keeps the ballast minimal.
  • Organize social networks.
    Firstly, I have unsubscribed from “news” from all the people on my friend lists that actually don’t interest me. I’m not interested in whether any average guy I haven’t seen for 5 years drinks cocktails in Thailand and posts flat wisdom about it. I only want to stay up to date on really close friends, family members and inspiring role models.
    Second, all pages that do not match my interests 100% have been unsubscribed. This was especially true for fun sites that post funny memes and the like. I have nothing against entertainment, but from my point of view it should also go hand in hand with added value, otherwise you become stupid over time.
  • Block ballast pages.
    The easiest way to avoid familiar websites and to reduce the information ballast. Otherwise you will call it up again and again out of sheer habit. For example, Chrome has the “SiteBlock” extension to keep you on track.

Organize information

After the input has been minimized, it is then to be organized.

Seriously, in today’s world, organization is half the battle . The sloppier you are here, the less you get on the chain.

Because you are needed on many fronts and simply overwhelmed if you do not provide structure.

For me there were two main steps:

  1. Filter emails, sort important messages thematically and store them in the appropriate folders. Most emails in the mailbox can in principle be deleted directly. The others, however, need to be archived as easily as possible. Anyone who creates structures here will ultimately save a lot of time and better keep track of things. By the way: If I don’t know whether an email could be used again or not, the well-tried principle ‘If in doubt, against’ applies to me. Most of the time we plan 1: 1,000,000 situations that of course do not occur. In other words, most of what we think we could need again is ultimately no longer needed. Applies to mails as well as possessions. In addition, the “damage”, the occurrence when we threw something away or deleted something that we would have needed again, is usually much smaller than we imagined beforehand.
  2. Make notes. Whether useful knowledge, your own ideas and trains of thought, brainstorming and data – if it is important, it should be recorded outside of our heads and above all in our own, summarizing words. Otherwise, 90% of them will easily be forgotten ( Ebbinghaus curve, see picture below).
    I personally use Onenote from Microsoft; is available for free on all devices and supports handwritten notes very well (much better than for example with Evernote). The web clipper is also particularly useful, with which videos and text can be cut out from the Internet.

In the beginning, there is insight …

In this article, you learned exactly where the problems of modern internet consumption lie, why they affect almost everyone of us and how to deal with them. All of this, however, in addition to some scientific research, mainly from the perspective of my experience.

Hopefully this will be useful and inspiring to you. However, profound, lasting changes only arise from OWN knowledge.

That means you should question yourself and think carefully about whether and to what extent YOUR internet use could be problematic for you and your life.

Take your time for this, because you need it to be honest and to look objectively at your everyday life, which all too often takes place without reflection and in autopilot mode.

Many people walk through life wearing a mask, blinding themselves and others because they don’t take the time to question critically.

Because that can be quite uncomfortable at times. It is easier to stay in your own comfort zone and say to yourself “everything is okay”.

But the price is high and rising. You live past yourself and do not notice the damage that is being done. Only when it’s too late.

Better to wake up early and ask uncomfortable questions: How much time do you spend on the Internet? What part of it is really productive? What price do you pay for the difference in everyday life? (Examples: Do you have motivation problems? Energy problems? The feeling of not having enough time?) WHAT can you change and WHY?

I have answered all of these questions for myself and have benefited greatly from them. Now it’s up to you. Take your time. Be honest.


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