A Guest Blog by Melissa S. Treacy
It is truly the “city that never sleeps.” It is always on. It is always there. The Internet.
While the developments in modern technology have brought about amazing advances for the world, it has also brought about some difficulties, especially to those of us working in the Age of the Internet.
I remember when daily news was just that – something that came once a day. (Before I pull up the old rocking chair, and gather the children around for a story, I should mention I’m not quite as old as that makes me sound.)
But the advances in technology have really taken off in our generation. We are the children of printed newspapers, and now are the working moms of a 24/7 online world. And, we’ve had to adapt along the way.
Probably the most difficult part of the 24/7 news cycle is just that: It doesn’t rest. There is no break. It is always, ALWAYS on. There are no longer print deadlines, and stories that must make the press.
We are a more global society, too. This means, even if your community is sound asleep, somewhere in the world it is just the start of a new day.
It is, however, only human to rest. You need breaks. You need, dare I say … a life. It is unreasonable to think anyone should work 24 hours a day, and even if you wanted to, you couldn’t sustain that life. You certainly would not be happy.
Life is about balance. Life is about finding happiness. And, while it is wonderful to love what you do for work, it is also important to have breaks, to find peace, to exercise, enjoy family, and maybe even take a vacation once and a while.
But how do you truly unplug? Can you? Should you? If you ask me, absolutely. Life cannot be happy without balance. With the yin, comes the yang.
I work hard. And I enjoy life. How do I do it? I can only offer one word for you: boundaries.
No matter what you do for work, you need them. And working online means you need them even more. The net is always there. There is always someone commenting. There is always a new story breaking. There is always work to be done.
At the end of the day, you must accept that it is not possible to do it all. This is true of relationships. It is true of housework. It is true of raising children. It is true of life.
There is always more you could do. There is always work. Always. And, of course, it is a necessary evil. Most of us must work. There are bills to be paid and mouths to feed. And, if we’re lucky, we love what we do. But even a labor of love is a labor. It is a job. It is work.
How can you ever have down time if the web is constantly humming? The only way to make it work is to create boundaries for yourself. You need to establish rules. You need to make them rules you can live with and stick to them. You need to find the balance that works for you and for those you love.
Whatever life you want to have, it is up to you to create it. Only you can find that balance. Only you can choose happiness. If you want to have more of “a life,” create one.
I realize that stating it is easy, and doing it is far harder, but the fact of the matter is only you can take those steps. Every journey begins with the first step. Carve out some time for you today.
It may start with a five-minute resting of the eyes. Maybe you will take ten minutes to meditate or just sit in peace and enjoy it.
Each day, you can add a bit more. Maybe you will work your way up to a day off, or maybe two per week. Call it a “weekend,” and get wild.
You need to disconnect. Modern technology makes it so easy for us to stay connected. We carry a complete computer around in our pockets, able to reach friends with social media, news with the touch of a button, and work with just one click.
But just because you CAN reach all that tech, doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to it, and certainly not 24 hours a day.
If you want to have a life, if you need more breaks, if you need time to breathe, there is only one thing you can do: give yourself boundaries.
Set aside time each day, week, month … whatever schedule works best for you … and walk away. Let it go. It will still be there, and I promise you taking a break of any length will not cause the Internet to come crashing down. The world will keep on spinning, and the sun will rise again.
It is okay. If you need someone to allow you a break, do it yourself. Take that break. Schedule that vacation. Take a weekend off.
I could offer you tips, like keeping your telephone in the other room when you go to bed at night. I could say to spend one day a week with the Wi-Fi turned completely off. I could say to vacation overseas, so the phone doesn’t work at all, and you cannot be reached.
But the trouble with technology is, if you aren’t committed to the break, to the down time, to having a life, you will find ways to “cheat.” The web is all around us, and it is too easy to find ways to reach work, to check messages, to read “just that one” email. But it is a slippery slope.
You have to commit to you. You have to realize you are worth it. You have to decide there is more to life than work. And, once you do that, once you truly deem yourself worthy of the separation, you’ll find it: that balance, that peace, that value.
You’re worth it. Commit to it. Do it. Have boundaries. Take breaks. You deserve it.
Melissa Treacy is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in the industry. She is the single mother of two teenagers, three dogs, and a cat. She currently resides outside of Philadelphia, where she has lived since college. She is a Penn State Nittany Lion graduate, and a proud lifetime fan. To reach Melissa, email email@example.com. She is always looking for a good story to write!