This is my story how I was able to survive for three weeks without wifi. I was in a rural area in Portugal, wild boars were strolling around at night, the supermarket was a half an hour walk away, and we didn’t have any neighbors or entertainment close by. Let me tell you the story how I lived without wifi, and how I even discovered advantages of no wifi. Yes it is true, there are some benefits connected to being without wifi connection.
This is how our survival adventure started in Portugal
What a disaster, the wifi is not working anymore. There was a lightning strike close by last night and we got struck too. And it doesn’t look like the wifi is going to function the coming days. And since we run this blog the lack-of-wifi-disaster is an immense disaster.
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This wifi crisis took place when we were house sitting (read here about the life of a house sitter) a quiet and beautiful estate in rural Portugal for a 9 week period. When we accepted the sit, we were happy that these simple living circumstances would help us focus on working online. We checked with the owners the wifi was good enough twice, just to be really sure.
And now we are panicking a bit. Because, how can we work without wifi? Almost all my work related and leisure related activities are dependent on good wifi. I wake up with wifi (and JD) and go to bed with wifi, probably after I have watched an episode on Netflix. So I ask myself the question; what do I do with my life when there is no wifi? How to survive – in the worst case scenario – a few weeks without wifi?
I felt lost without wifi but I stood up again
Being without wifi felt strange in the beginning. I wanted to dive in my online routine’s but I couldn’t. There was a disturbing feeling in me of disconnection from the people back home and even the world. I needed some information to write a blog but I couldn’t search for it. Was I missing important updates?! And I was afraid that I couldn’t be productive. Btw, being productive is a struggle I more often wrestle with.
But soon I started to experience several advantages of having no wifi.
Being offline helps you to get the real value work done
I will talk about more advantages of no wifi, but let me start with the first and biggest benefit of being not online. Or better said, I will start with dismantling the first assumption about having no wifi. I am talking about the conviction that it is impossible to work and to be productive without wifi. I had that conviction. But I found out that it is not true. I dare say that, in most jobs, wifi is not necessary for more than 50% of your tasks.
Without wifi, my attention was automatically focused on the ‘real’ work; the primary process of vision and strategy, writing content, writing marketing messages etc. Planning and networking are side-activities, important side-activities, but they are not the core of your job or business.
When there is wifi, I tend to give a lot of attention to those side-activities, and less to the real value adding process. (and then I am not even talking about distracting activities like checking the weather forecast and my email) Apparently it is easier to lose myself in those tasks than in for example, writing a high quality piece.
Having no wifi facilitates me in creating more value. Isn’t that funny?
These are the advantages of no wifi I experienced
Let me go over the advantages of no wifi.
Without wifi, I reach a deeper focus – advantages of no wifi #1
My mind isn’t busy with my people back home and with what they send to me and say. I am focused on writing my piece, without resistance. The creation of my blog was with less energy and effort than it normally would cost me. I am forced to focus on what I am doing, because there is no distraction. I reached a very productive and calm peace of mind. Normally this process gets interrupted by visiting a news website for example. And I never get to that nice place. There are more advantages of no wifi.
Deciding what I want instead of letting the supply dictate me – advantages of no wifi #2
I noticed another benefit of this wifi crisis in Portugal. I realized that usually my days are filled with responding to things that reach out to me. Whether it is a friend, or a marketeer that wants me to click. Responding to an email, responding to attractive headers in my wall, responding to whatever. Without wifi, I am the one that has to decide what I am going to do. Not the convenient offers that are around me. Because they aren’t around anymore, thanks to the lack of wifi. I thoroughly think through what I want to do this morning, instead of giving my time away to random stimulus unconsciously.
I was more present – advantages of no wifi #3
Gradually I got more sensitive to the beauty of the surroundings. My senses started working better. The sound of slamming doors told me we had visitors. We could tell by the traces on the ground that wild boars and human had been strolling there. I wouldn’t hear or see that normally.
I am more present. When I am swallowed by wifi (read: doing social stuff in my laptop) some kind of figurative patches appear before my eyes. Those patches stand in between myself and JD, and in between myself and my environment. I am there, but I am not there at the same time. Without wifi, I am. It is all about connecting better.
I was open to new things and different activities – advantages of no wifi #4
Without wifi suddenly room arised for different things. During our time in Portugal it left me a lot of time and attention to read books. And I love to read.
JD and I started to discover ‘new’ things. And don’t think about spectacular things right now. We discovered subtle small new things, but they are a metaphor for something bigger. We found out we carry very nice music with us all the time, we never listen to. I have hundreds of interesting books on my ereader I didn’t have a look at for a while. I love to read in the evenings instead of watching Netflix.
JD and I went out more often. Right after breakfast as well. And I loved it. A stroll to the beach. Walking to the village.
Inspiration and relaxation – just because I have no wifi – advantages of no wifi #5
After a few days I realized I sleep better at night when I read a book instead of let myself sucked in in the online world.
I had more inspiration. I got a broader view on things. A good description would be, it was like zooming out and rising to a different level. Because I wasn’t busy with futile things there was inspiration, insight and room to make significant improvements concerning our Dutch e-learning project.
After three days there was rescue
After three days without wifi I found a new source of wifi in the village. So obviously I used it eagerly after three days without being plugged. And I realized: “I don’t miss anything”. Nothing is happening. There wasn’t anything interesting in my inboxes. Connecting with wifi once in two days suffices for communication with friends and family.
The most important purpose of wifi to me is targeted information searching. And I stress the word targeted here, because it is about searching for information I really need, or information or a service I really like, and not because it is there.
My new wifi behaviour
So now I had my wifi source in the village. Quite far away, at a place not that convenient, and no wifi at home. I started to use wifi in a more focused way. Getting some things done with attention, instead of wandering around on the web for hours without really noticing anything. Sending and receiving a few messages, uploading and downloading a few things I had prepared before. And that was it, nothing more. The way I like to use wifi. The way wifi services me, instead of the other way around.
These are the habits I was able to throw away without constant wifi and it made me happy (and productive!)
- first thing in the morning – even before getting out of bed – checking my messages
- my crazy tics: checking my news website several times a day, checking my email several times a day (I receive 5 emails maximum), checking my facebook more than several times a day
- every time I pass by a device that has wifi (laptop, tablet, ..) checking whether something new came in
- responding to incoming messages immediately
- closely watching notifications and likes
- watching series many hours week. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but that is just the point I guess. It is a very comfortable and lazy way to spend my spare time, but I found it adds value to a very limited extent in the end. I still do watch series I like, but it has to add value to my day
- searching for necessary information using as an excuse to be not productive. As a legitimate pastime, online surfing without use. Disguised in a useful jacket. It looks like I am working. So it probably is working. NOT.
- checking all incoming messages immediately – and a result of that – the message straight away affects my state of mind (I know, that is another point for improvement, I keep it for another blog). Gone is my previous mood, I am busy with the content of the message now.
- following the news closely. Without checking news updates every day, I find I don’t miss anything. Incidents don’t tell you anything, the trends do. Real big news rarely happens.
So would I say I really do not miss wifi when it is not there?
Actually, not really. It is more about a feeling of freedom to be able to do what I want and what is necessary, both online and offline, the moment I want to. But I learned that in practice I don’t need much wifi. The drama of having no wifi was just a fraction of what I expected.
In fact, it also gives a great feeling of freedom not to be ‘bothered’ by wifi. It is a talent of wifi to quietly claim a lot of your time and attention, if you are not careful. And that is just one of the advantages of no wifi.
I remember traveling on Cuba for a month, automatically without wifi because it is Cuba, and it gave me so much peace and quality time.
Wifi is one of the greatest inventions of past years. It can perfectly serve you in living the life you want, the way you want it. But it can also easy devour you when you are not in the lead. It is a gradual process.
After three weeks the wifi is back to stay – this is what happened
After three weeks the internet company is finally there to fix the wifi connection. I have a feeling of regret. I quite liked life without wifi. Because I got to see and feel the advantages of no wifi. And will I be able to retain the benefits now the wifi is back?
My breathing is higher, I feel more rushed.
With a sense of discipline I decide to take the lead in how I am going to use the brand new wifi connection. Because before I know it, things are the same as before this 3-week adventure.
These are the wifi ground rules I set with me, myself & I
You like to here a few? Let’s go. Social media contacts just one time a day in a batch. Just one time per day the weather forecast (for the record, I am not that interested in the weather, I would call it a check tic). Going online at least an hour after waking up. No wifi connection during writing a blog or other content. To get to know more of my ground rules, you can send me a message.
A few days later my rules end up in the trash bin, and my wifi is on the whole day, starting from the moment that I wake up. This is not about the wifi connection anymore, I would call it personal leadership and discipline. My relation with wifi is complex and remains one with ups and downs.
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Further reading about Portugal, personal struggles and personal leadership
Do you like to read more about our time in the South of Portugal? Read How I felt awful on a stunning hilltop in South Portugal
Or are you interested in trying house sitting yourself once too? Read How to become an excellent house sitter in 13 steps