We have an internet that has every bit of the worlds existing information and digital devices that remind, remember and tell us where to go, you would think that we’d all be leading this simpler life and we’d spend our free energy accessing the endless knowledge online to educate ourselves into a super-mind status. Instead, you might find yourself busier than ever and the only thing you seem to find online is hours and hours of cat videos, food porn, and other irrelevant information that does nothing but eat away the free time you gained from living in the this digital future we dreamed about as kids.
Did the world hand us a shiny Bugatti and we ignore drivers training? Don’t worry about learning, just turn the key and go. Don’t worry about taking the time to learn, just Google the answer and go.
One approach to helping you make the internet more like a tool and less like a black hole is setting digital boundaries that free your time and help you avoid mindless distractions.
I define Digital Boundaries as a set of guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify the type of activities they wish to partake in online in order to not get lost in the black hole of information that exists on the web. (This is of course a play-on definition of Personal Boundaries)
The following are my 3 simple steps to creating Digital Boundaries
In case you weren’t aware, I’m the poster child for A.D.D. It’s not uncommon for me to forget what I’m doing and get lost staring at a shiny object. My interest circle can get pretty full at times and seems to get crowded if I’m not careful with what or whom I choose to allow in. I think that most people are the same way. There’s so many amazing things that people are doing/making/saying/thinking that it’s easy to discover something new and interesting.
The first thing I did to be more disciplined with my online activities was Identify the unchanging interest that are important to me. What do I mean by unchanging? These are interests that will always be important to my everyday life and that I would like to be identified by. An example for me would be – Health. My wife and I are always looking to educate ourselves on better eating habits, better exercise routines and so on. Health is a very wide topic so of course I had to simplify my definition to focus on heart healthy foods and exercises. Once you’ve listed out a set of interests that matter to you, it’s now time to organize them.
From your browser to your social networks, you can group your interests using the tools they provide. Examples include Browser Bookmarks, Twitter Lists, Google+ Circles, Facebook Lists and so on. Search engines and social networks are perfect examples of black holes that can suck you in and rob you of precious time and brain energy. Setting up these tools can allow you to search for information quickly as well as build influence in the right communities. If news is important to you, many news sites like Google News allow you to follow what’s trending but also customize your news feed to focus on what matters most to you.
There’s a lot of great information out there on the web and it’s not uncommon to run across a post from a user you don’t know but really liked what they had to say. It’s also not uncommon for some people to Like, Follow, or send a friend request as soon as they see that post. This is where you should avoid the impulsive/careless buy in. Before you add people to your network, take a glance at what their interests are. You can easily do this by reading their last 20-50 posts. (of course this is more difficult if they have a private profile) This can give you an idea of what they like to talk about as well as their overall attitude. This may save you from adding a person who made a random post about something they normally don’t talk about or someone who comes across as debbie downer.
The web is filled with some amazing knowledge there for the taking. You can learn a different language, learn how to code, learn how to play an instrument, or even take free courses posted by professors from Stanford, Harvard, etc. With Digital Boundaries, you could end your day learning something that matters to you other than what some dude you don’t know had for lunch….
I have to admit, after moving to Central Florida almost 4 years ago I’ve enjoyed sharing photos with my non local friends and family of our pool, palm trees, theme parks, BBQ’s, sand volleyball games, sunsets (sunrises), weekend trips to the ocean, etc. And yes, there’s a certain joy I get sharing them during the winter months.
Growing up in Michigan I do have some things that I miss. I miss the smell of life coming back in the spring. As silly as it sounds, you can smell the plants coming back to life, the lakes, rivers, creeks and mud thawing, there really is something amazing about it. I miss the apple orchards, cornfields and Oktoberfests in the fall. In the summer I miss the week of Independence Day. That week always seems to be perfect for upper peninsula trips and lazying around in a pontoon boat.
I don’t miss snow and frigid temps. I don’t miss the months where the skies, road and trees all appear to be the same gray color. I guess the snow can be awesome, but after a week of it, I’m done and winters lasted way too long.
Michigan definitely holds a place in my heart for many other reasons too, but none of which are the point of this blog. I’ve caught myself in those “I miss Michigan” moments and have had to ask myself whether I’d want to move back. The answer is, no. Sure, if unforeseen circumstances came up (which I don’t even know what those would be) I guess it’s possible, but I feel much happier here in Florida.
I didn’t realize that until I spent 6 months in Tennessee in the first part of 2013.
I was miserable. My wife, Amy, was miserable. Although we didn’t have the snow, we still had freezing temps, gray skies and it was not enjoyable to be outside. I literally gained 10 pounds which I refer to as my “Tennessee 10″. That move made us realize how much the sun had impacted us.
For those that know us, our move back to Florida was more than just about weather, but again, that’s a different topic.
As snow has pounded the north this past week, driving temps down so low that even the Green Bay Packers struggled to sell playoff tickets, I was curious to know if there was anything out there on the web that address the question, “Are people happier in warmer climates?”
Turns out, there is:
Research suggests the pleasure of weather changing, makes us happy. (my earlier thoughts of spring) – LINK
This research suggests that it’s all a matter of how we feel where we are currently – Link
This person sees a brighter mood when they’re in the Sun – Link
From what I’ve found there’s nothing to prove that warmer climates or sunshine will make you happy. Nor does it say that cold weather will make you happy. It does however indicate that when a season changes that it can bring joy to a person.
I do see that living in a 4 season state you are most likely going to experience happiness 4 times a year. 4 times out of an entire year. That’s not much to bank on.
So here’s what I believe is the real answer, and it’s derived from one question….”what do you want?”
For me, I want to be active outdoors year round. I want to look outside and see palm trees (as long as I can remember, I have loved them, and I still do) I want to wear shorts and flip flops throughout the year and have the ocean nearby. I want to live in a place where the seasons don’t hurt or require me to wear bundles of clothes. I want to live where the weather is more predictable. I like hot and I like cool. Call me crazy, but I enjoy the humid months and I love the 50′s-70′s in the winter. I love the sun. I love it. It feels good driving with the top down on my jeep and it makes me happy. The perfect place for me is Central Florida. I’m next to tons of family attractions, I’m close to the beach yet far enough not to fear hurricanes. I love where I live.
Do you love where you live? What type of culture/climate would you prefer? Feel free to ask me about the trials of finding a job and best practices of getting one, the hidden costs you might not expect, or anything else, I’ll be glad to respond!
Every year we get a new White House Christmas Ornament thanks to Amy’s family who work in Washington. This years ornament is a tribute to President Woodrow Wilson, our 28th President.
Here’s a look at the unwrapping:
I love stuff like this. This is a video I want to watch every morning.