Simplicity at Work: Why Shutting Off the Internet Helps Me Work on the Internet

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Right now, as I write this, I'm not connected to the Internet. In fact, I've got my laptop woefully balanced on my lap as I listen to the rhythmic cadence of windshield wipers sweep away Oregon rain; I'm in the passenger seat as my husband steers the minivan around Pacific Northwest mountains.

We are nearing the end of my book tour, hitting 24 states and covering 9,000 miles in two months as a family. This passenger seat has been my office for most of it. I connect to the Internet via my phone when it's needed; otherwise, the bulk of my days working, writing, brainstorming, and creating have been offline with rolling hills and gnawing cows as my companions, me occasionally wondering aloud about the stories of derelict barns and ghost towns whooshing by.

I've known this for years now, but this past spring has reminded me of this truth I easily forget: I get more work done when I'm not distracted by the Internet.

I recognize the irony, seeing as the bulk of my work as a full-time blogger exists because of the Internet. And let me be quick to clarify I'm not anti-technology, shaking my Luddite head at all those "other" people connected to Facebook like it's a lifeline, their smartphones a veritable IV bag of fluids bringing them time-sensitive nutrients. I get it. I really do. The Internet is a blessing in many surprising ways—click on the icon waiting in my dock on my laptop, and I'm connected to faraway people, new ideas, opportunities to minister and serve, and in my case, the ability to earn an income. So, it has its place. But that place, oftentimes for me, is actually not during my work hours.

As a writer, I don't need to necessarily connect with people and places while I purge my thoughts with a cursor. By disconnecting, I can practice a habit of producing before consuming, of hearing from God how He wants me to work before I share it with others. This disconnect is a subtle, simple thing, but it reaps powerful fruit in my work life. By going off-line, I'm better focused, I'm able to single-task, and I can shut out potential voices of doubt or disappointment. I'm more willing to take necessary risks because I can only see what's right in front of me. My work feels simpler. Just do the next thing, one thing at a time.

I'm learning to savor the beauty of working offline on a deck chair overlooking a lake, cup of coffee in hand and God's creation my office walls. Or in the passenger seat of our minivan, trekking through cities alongside my family, the open road before us. I can only do this, really, if I'm willing to disconnect.

Facebook and Twitter have their places, and I'm grateful for them. But they're not always needed for me to work. Disconnecting from them fosters in me a sense of deeper creativity, contentment, and risk-taking—just me and my digital pen, listening to God and letting Him guide me in my craft.

Simplicity at Work

In our complicated, 21st century, high-tech, high-speed world, people have begun to crave a simpler approach to life and work. In the series Simplicity at Work, The High Calling explores simplicity in the places we work and the ways we work; and, perhaps more subtly, we want to explore simplicity at work in us through a variety of stories that reveal ways people find freedom and success when they simplify. Join us for Bible reflections, featured articles, and discussion. Invite your colleagues to do the same.