So I did something pretty drastic this weekend that I wanted to share with you.

For quite a while, I’ve been frustrated with how I’m scheduling and using my time. When you don’t have a 9 to 5 office job, your days can flow one to the next, weekdays into weekends without clear delineations between work and play. I both love and hate this. On the one hand, I love having a totally flexible schedule and am grateful for it everyday. But on the other hand, no matter what I’m doing, I always feel like I should be doing something else, like I’m wasting my time with this when I should be doing that. And the worst part is, because I already feel like I’m not doing enough, I never make time for a lot of things that are true passions because it feels frivolous and indulgent.

All this crystalized for me when I started journaling about it. I made a list of all the things that take up my time during a given week as well as the things I’d like to do but can never seem to find the time. I want to draw and paint more; I want to finally watch all the films in my ridiculously long Netflix queue; I want to re-read all the classics and all those books I’ve only read reviews of; And of course, there are all those house projects. Well, guess what? These are all offline activities.

I knew (even before this little exercise) that I was spending too much time online. The web has been the source of so many wonderful things in my life, including real friendships, but it can also cause so much anxiety. I want to keep up with everyone and everything and not miss out on the newest and the latest. Of course this is an impossible task and I’ve become better about letting go but I need to do better.

So what was the drastic thing I did? I went completely offline. And I plan on doing that on the weekends from now on. The one exception is Instagram. It’s my visual diary and I want to keep documenting my days which only takes a few minutes. But that is all. This will leave my weekends free to do all those other activities, and most importantly, without guilt. And by the same token, on weekdays, I won’t feel guilty if I fall down an internet rabbit hole every now and then.

Life is short and we need to make time for the things that we love doing instead of just complaining about not having time. So what about you? What’s your relationship with the internet like these days?  Have any strategies for balancing life online and off? I’d love to hear.

*Living La Belle Vie is an FTRB series about celebrating the everyday. You can read more about it here and see other posts in the series here.

(Cartoon by Dean Vietor/New Yorker)



suzie from PalazzoPizzo

Hi Ally,
today, I totally wasted my time online at the computer instead of painting.
However, I reconnected with some lovely blogs and bloggers. Coming across your post makes a perfect end. Will switch off now :-)
Good Night from Bangkok


Hi Ally,

I’m a freelance copywriter and editor, and I work from home, so I totally hear you about needing to separate work and personal. I shut down at 5pm during the week when I pick up my kids, and I don’t reply to emails unless it’s an emergency til the next morning. On weekends, I clean through email once, but otherwise, I am offline. :)

Jamie Herzlinger

Fantastically true! It is as if we need permission to un plug. Thanks for helping to validate our inner desires to disconnect! Have a great rest of the week

Arlene Gibbs Décor

I was just talking to a friend about this.

One of the biggest downsides to being self-employed AND working from home is, I’m always working.

I’m going to make a real effort to put some structure into my life.

I’m not sure I can go completely offline for the entire weekend right now. My immediately goal is to stay off for one whole day (except for Instagram).


I have also started to limit my time online – and really, it’s just the iPhone that’s the problem! It’s way too easy to check every email and instagram message that comes in. I’ve started turning everything off at 8pm every night – this includes phone, TV, computer. Instead? I get myself ready for bed, curl up with my animals, and read for a couple of hours. I’m shocked at how much of a difference this makes. I put my iPhone in a plugged in spot across the room, which makes it less tempting than if it were sitting on my nightstand. I don’t look at it until morning, and truthfully, I think I’m also sleeping better because of it. I used to wake up in the middle of the night and…check the phone, instagram, etc. It’s just not needed! I’m getting through some of my books I’ve wanted to read, and I also feeling more creative myself as a result.


The iPhone is my downfall too. I also keep it on the nightstand and you’re right, it’s just too tempting. It’s a GREAT idea to put it out of reach and I’d love to try it. I don’t know if I can bring myself to do that just yet though. Baby steps…..

Ampersand Design

Ally you summed up my problem with being online:
“I want to keep up with everyone and everything and not miss out on the newest and the latest.”
That’s what keeps me on my computer for hours on end. It’s not good. I however did turn my phone off for 6 whole weeks recently and it was bliss. May need to try it with the computer too.

Sandy K

Heather in Arles

I loved this Ally. Especially as I am using mu Sunday afternoon to get caught up with internet stuff while I have a good book right next to me!
Signing off et merci…


This is so right on with how I feel that it’s uncanny. I have a lot of unstructured time, yet I always wonder why I seem to accomplish or enjoy so little. I’ve even described my time online as a “rabbit hole” as well. I feel like my time on the internet has so many rewards (like finding great advice like this!) yet is so hard to prove or document, even to myself. I’m glad I came across this post and your solid advice! Good luck with your own anti-internet time!


Can you really say you drastically went offline if you are still daily documenting your life with instagram? These fragmented minutes spent posting food pictures are part of what eats away our ability to focus on our bigger dreams.

Tanisha Shulamit

What a great article. I just decided to do away with my FB account this last 2 days. I am tired of it. I have Google+, my blog, Instagram and Pinterest. Who needs the extra distractions?


I agree! The internet is both a blessing and a distraction and I like that you are taking time to disconnect. I need to try out some of this journaling that you have been doing so that I may see how to better organize my time.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment! I read every one and reply through my own comments.