Have you ever been without Wi-Fi for more than a few days? If not, can you imagine what it’s like? I would bet you there are thousands, if not millions of people who would rather be without gas, electricity or water than Wi-Fi.
We were recently without Wi-Fi for nearly a week thanks to the incredible negligence and unprofessionalism of our provider. Their name is synonymous with the forging of the Wild West but will remain nameless here. At first I was going to write this article about the appalling service and mistakes that even a large service company makes. But then on talking to people about it, I realized that for this company, this was not unusual. So instead I started thinking about what the experience had taught me.
For many of us Wi-Fi and a connection to the Internet is indispensable and so it is with my family. It has become an essential utility just like these other three mentioned above. We have a 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy who would probably be prepared to lose the use of their right arms rather than go without Wi-Fi and they would certainly happily give up the three utilities.
We stream iTunes and Spotify as well as Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO via our Apple TV, play on-line games via the X-Box and Nintendo 3DS, and connect our 3 Macs, 3 iPad’s and phones. The nameless installer suggested that 20mb download speed was “plenty”. Not so, to you who is no longer our provider.
So apart from now knowing who should NOT be a provider of any Internet services, I was surprised about what being without Wi-Fi can teach you.
Like numerous people I run a business out of our house and my wife often works from home. Yes I know I could use the mobile phone for e-mails and web browsing but I also realized that’s why the phones are called “mobile”. They are for keeping tabs on things when on the go, when mobile, but the interface is sadly lacking when trying to do everyday office tasks.
At first, I was miserable. I felt cut off. When you work on your own, you already are fairly lonely, but with no Wi-Fi you might as well be a hermit.
So now, I was reliant upon coffee shops or the library for a connection. This meant I had to really plan my time. I couldn’t just do what I used too, which was as a thought grabbed me, “Google” for the answer or find the site I wanted immediately. I had to plan my time for what I wanted to focus on, for when I had access to Wi-Fi.
I had the opportunity to really focus on tasks, as social media or a pervasive link to an interesting article that had nothing to do with what I was doing wasn’t distracting me. In fact I was doing less but being more productive.
I planned specifically what that 1-hour link with the Internet would be for, to the minute. For example, I would spend 15 minutes on research, 25 minutes on e-mail, 10 minutes updating and correcting Nozbe and Evernote and 10 minutes on LinkedIn.
I realized that I was being more productive and efficient with my time. I didn’t get tempted or distracted.
I worked more efficiently on e-mails, as I was offline. I focused on my inbox and responding, filing and deleting. I didn’t get distracted looking for the latest new shiny e-mail that has just been delivered into one of my 5 e-mail boxes. I couldn’t.
And then one of the enormous benefits was that we became more of a family again. With no devices or distractions, we sat and read and talked. A fairly novel concept nowadays I know, but that’s what families used to do! Our daughter was regrettably the exception as she went on back-to-back sleepovers with her girlfriends to ensure she had constant Internet access.
Being without Wi-Fi was a blessing. It helped me realize that I needed to focus more and be intentional about tasks and deliverables.
Now I have started this year with a more focused approach to my time on the computer and instead of allowing the Internet to drive my agenda, I now control when I need it and when I don’t. Who would ever thought that being disconnected would have provided more focus on being better connected?
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Peter M. Beaumont is a Management Consultant, Owner of ConnXN and works for pivotal Adsvisors. He is the author of The Relationship Roadmap and is a customer relationship mentor who helps those responsible for their stellar clients protect and grow their business. See more at www.ConnXN.net