Monday Monthly Mission #18

February 28th, 2011 - filed under: Furthermore » Monday Monthly Mission

Winter in Portland. Image by Kristal Passy.

On the first Monday of every month, we take on a ‘mission’ – a shift or habit or inspiration – to work on together. There’s strength (and support) in numbers! On the last Thursday of the month, we reconvene to see how far we’ve come.


Please don’t hate me.

A Year ago (in 3 days) my son was born (Happy Birthday Waits!!!). I popped in here to introduce him, and then I pretty much disappeared for the rest of March. I needed that time – as a new mama, as a broken body, as I was falling so deeply in love – I needed that time to myself. And I came back from my hiatus refreshed and stronger than ever.

Can you see where this is going?

I need to take a break. I need 30 days completely away from the Internet. Here’s why:

  • I form my thoughts in 140-character blocks. MY OWN PERSONAL THOUGHTS. Seriously.
  • I am midway through birthing a new baby, and I need to give it the attention that it needs right now.
  • I am hopelessly addicted to the Internet. I surf it when I should be working. I surf it when there’s nothing worth surfing. I surf it when I should be playing with my kid.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Every time I take a break from Bonzai, it breaks my heart and terrifies me. I’m scared that all my traffic will dry up. I’m afraid that all my readers will leave me. I worry about letting people down. BUT. Every time I take a break, I come back so inspired. I’m always beter for it, and Bonzai is better for it, too.

These are just a few of the many reasons for this particular March Mission. I’m both sick with anxiety and soaring with anticipation. What will this month be like without my computer??!

Will I read the mountain of books that taunts me from atop the dresser? Will I pound out essay after essay for my freelance work? Will I become a better mother? A better wife?

Will I be bored?

I’m allowing myself email, twice a day. Otherwise the computer stays closed. Now, I know that this isn’t feasible for everyone – maybe anyone – else. But, you can easily modify this mission into something that challenges your own relationship with media. Maybe you quit Facebook for a month? Or log out of your Google reader? Maybe you could cut your web surfing down to 1/2 an hour a day. Maybe you should only check Twitter once per hour. It’s all up to you and suited to your own comfort level. But I hear it over and over, from readers here on Bonzai to friends in person – it seems like everybody is unhappy with the time they spend online.

So let’s do something about it.

Starting tomorrow. 30 days. I’ll miss you so much!

So what do you think? Do you accept this mission? And how do you plan to make it work uniquely for you?

  • saundra

    to make this mission work for me i will do my best to check fb twice a day once in the morning and once at night. i don’t know how well it will work b/c i’m a serious fb addict but i do have a ton of stuff i need to get done before new baby comes in august (like make room for it lol) and i do need to spend more time with my kids instead of the internet.

  • Jessica

    WOW! I completely understand that duality of excited about the break, but apprehensive about the time away…good luck, I hope it goes well! :)

  • Robin

    I have been surfing more and more since spring is near, but I feel like at least when ive been surfing lately its been to learn and research things (plants/food/canning etc) so I dont beat myself up too bad. And I have a list of sites that I check daily for new info/posts. FB however is definitely my downfall(at least every hour!) My mission- FB 3x a day :) See you in a month with awesome vegan ads!

  • Vicki

    I’m going to miss your posts terribly, but I think it’s a really good idea. Less computer time is something I desperately need, I have a Droid X phone, so even if someone is on our family computer… I have a mini computer. I am ashamed to say that managing computer time is not my best skill, and there are so many things that need my attention more, so I am going to work at making this my mission too. Enjoy your time away Sayward, I will definitely be here when you come back!!!

  • alison

    I have been feeling convicted in this area lately as well. I work on the computer all day, so I check it at home only rarely. Since I spend all day staring at the screen, it’s too easy for me to randomly check facebook/read articles/look things up online in the midst of my work tasks. The result is that my brain often feels frazzled. My mission in March will be to only check facebook, read blogs, & do personal research 30 minutes a day at most. I don’t think I’ll even need that much time. I plan to allow myself 15 minutes in the morning and see if I want to return for another 15 later in the day. Thanks for encouraging us in this way!

  • Sammy

    Wait, you said
    “I am midway through birthing a new baby, and I need to give it the attention that it needs right now.

    Does that mean your pregnant again ( Did I miss a post?! )

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Ooooh, this is a tough one. But the fact that it *seems* so hard is probably a good sign that I could use a break as well, n’est-ce pas? Since I do both my primary work and secondary freelance work online, I can’t unplug 100%. But I *know* I can shave off a lot of my time spent online. So, for the month of March:

    No more HootSuite (eek!); personal e-mail and Google reader will only be checked from work when I’m on a scheduled break and at the end of the day; and nothing at all after 9pm.

    Easy peasy, right? Right?! Guess I’ll report back at the beginning of April…

  • Moira

    @Alison – you hid the nail on its head. Your mission is now mine. It will be good discipline to stay more focused with my work. See you all April 1.

  • tine

    Oh goodness this would be sooo hard for me, but I think I’ll join by quitting or limiting a bunch of sites. I already made turned off twitter updates on my phone and quitting most of my fb games… baby steps!

  • Vicki

    @ Sammy.. I could be wrong but I think she was talking about the book she’s writing.

  • Theresa

    Yikes! I know this is only scary because it’s truly something I need to confront. I have to be online at work to do my job but I find myself distracted, often for considerable amounts of time, by facebook, stupid links and researching/shopping. Several months ago I stopped using my computer in the evenings because I felt mine and my husband’s online time was a barrier between us and some serious quality time. It was so much nicer! Sometimes you forget that things like eye-contact during conversations really make a difference. Unfortunately it only stuck for a month or two and I’m now back where I started. Great mission! I’m going to try limiting myself to email in the AM before work and try confining my personal surfing to non-business hours (like lunchtime).

  • ~L~

    I’ll totally jump in and do this with you. We’re moving tomorrow (!!!) and there will be TONS to do and get acquainted with at our new place, so I’d planned on taking a break anyway. I’ll probably check my email once a day since family will be far away, but no WoW for a while since it’s taking over my life. Again. Horde FTW. =)

  • Emily

    I’m in. With finals looming and me feeling like I’m falling behind with my schoolwork, I think cutting out a lot of my internet time will help.

    My internet goal for March: No more than 1 hour a day of personal web-surfing. 15 minutes in the morning, then I can have the 45 minutes later if/when I’ve finished the work I need to do for school or otherwise that day.

    I’m hoping that knowing other people are doing this (and that I’m publicly announcing my commitment!) will help me stick with it. Good luck, everyone!

  • Kimberly

    Oh oh! I need to do this too…very badly. I’m a stay at home mom and I spend the majority of my days on the computer (though to be fair, I’m generally nursing my daughter during that time too.) I desperately need a break from the internet, or to at least tone down the time I’m online. So. I’ll do this too! How it’s going to work for me is; email and facebook check twice during the day (morning and night), for no longer than half an hour. I blog as well, so if an idea comes to me, I’ll type it up on word instead of coming on the internet. The only other time allowed on the internet is to make our weekly menu, in which I’ll only be able to check out food websites.
    I seriously need to get out of the web world and back into real life. My mom and sister in law are coming into town later this month and I desperately need to get my house in order.

    I’m excited now! I NEED to do this. You’ve totally inspired me. Thank you!

  • Kathryn

    Have a wonderful break! I can’t not be on the computer (college sorta makes it a requirement) but I’m definitely cutting down on blogs/Stumble/Facebook/etc. Last semester the internet on my laptop stopped working for three weeks and though it was inconvenient when I needed to do work for classes, it was just fine when I didn’t need it. So less internet means less procrastination, which is always a good thing!

  • Emily

    Only checking my reader in the morning over a cup of tea. You can’t break a morning ritual, right? :P

    Good luck! We’ll miss you!

  • Sayward

    Thank you, thank you, thank you All. =)

    I feel a lot better about this now, and I’m so glad I followed my intuition and went through with it (I was so nervous!) It sounds like a lot of you guys are in similar situations and are feeling the same way. Hopefully this is just the gentle nudge you needed! It’s awesome that so many of us will be doing this together.

    See you in 30 days. =(


  • Pat

    I wouldn’t be able to quite computer totally, I just recently started blogging. I need it as an outlet, or maybe just to sort all the Ideas in my head. But quitting Facebook for 30 days sounds like a good plan, also surfing less for new Ideas and finally sitting down and making all the ones I have already lined up would be a very good Idea too…who knows maybe I finally manage to finish the book I started reading a month ago…
    This is a very good MMM! I Wish you a great break, and happy Birthday to Waits (hope he gets a whole week of Birthday Party too ;-) )

  • @tishushu

    I’ll be here!:)

  • erosan

    Game on. Except my take on this MMM will be using internet strictly for business related inquiries during this month + half an hour daily for checking personal emails and stuff.

    Have a great MMM (and enjoy your time off the web), we’ll miss you!

  • Melissa L.

    You go girl!!! See you in April!

  • Sara

    Good luck!! Clearly we will all be here when you get back :) I hope waits has the most lovely first birthday!

  • Olivia Jean

    I’m in, except I work on the computer, so that will have to remain. I like the idea of 30 minutes for non work computer time, and thats it! (like I tell my 4 year old)

  • Melisa

    I feel so guilty over staring at the screen and telling my poor baby, “In a minute. Wait just a minute. Hang on, I’m busy!” Really?!? I’m busy?! With fucking what? Definitely nothing more important than listening to the wonders of the three-year-old imagination. I need to spend time drawing pictures and writing the alphabet and answering bizarre kid questions. And I need to do nice things for myself. I would feel SO MUCH DIFFERENT at the end of half an hour spent reading or sewing than at the end of half an hour spent staring, brain-dead, at Facebook or Etsy.

  • Katie

    OK, this is gonna be tough, but probably the best thing for all of us! I can’t stay away from the machine entirely, though boy do I wish I could, so I’ll do this: school-related internet work only, with ten min in the am and twenty in the pm for time-wasting. I am anxious to see what I do in the time-wasting period; will I read the news, or will I read about the outfits of celebrities that I don’t recognize and other useless pop-culture nonsense?


  • Joselle

    I think this is a great thing you’re doing for yourself and your family. I will join you. Being on the computer hurts my hands and body so much. I’ve no business being on it at all but mentally, I love it. Physically, I have bad repetitive strain from being on a computer. It’s one of the main reasons I left my job as an editor. And I don’t want to mess up my hands more than they already are.

    An idea: do you have a phone you can check email on? I find email on phones less hypnotic and tempting than the computer. If I were you and I decided to check email twice a day, I’d cave and surf! :) Just a suggestion.

    Also, can you just set up a vacation message saying all urgent messages should become phone calls? Or only answer emails related to your book and ignore the rest? Really, if it’s SO important, you will be called.

    Best of luck with this. Enjoy this time. Of course, I won’t know about what you think of my comments because I definitely need to complete this monthly mission. Bye!

  • Laurah

    I read this entry yesterday and it didn’t really appeal to me, but the more I’ve thought about it the better of an idea it seems. I spend so much time aimlessly browsing without even enjoying it.

    My rule is going to be this: I can use the internet only if it’s part of a real-life project- working on a poster, looking up a knitting pattern, emailing a professor, etc. Other than that, I’m going to try to stay off!

  • Courtney

    When you start forming your personal thoughts to fit in a Tweet, definitely time to take a break.

    I actually wish that I could partake in this mission. I just don’t use the internet that much. I probably could cut back on the time I’m spending personalizing maps on Google. :)

  • Lily

    I don’t think you need to worry about your traffic drying up, Sayward. When you state when and why you’re taking a break, people understand. Your blog is really great and interesting, and people like the group that visits here.

    I felt similar when my little girl was smaller; even now sometimes, it’s ‘easier’ to veg by a computer than take the face to face time to build the relationship. It’s a great feeling when we can recognize our errors, and be self-controlled enough to override our weaknesses for the good of our family (friends, world, etc), and even more so when we can have the balance of a circle that understands and respects us when we need time to ourselves and/or a nap. When my kid gives me a kiss and a teddy, and says ‘Have a good snooze’ (or says, Mommy, you need some chocolate), it cheers me up right there!

  • Meredith

    I’ve made it a point not to get on the computer while my child is awake simply because I too was surfing while I should’ve been playing with him! Good for you! Also, I know you wont see this for a month but I thought I’d ask before I forget: Since you’re vegan, and obviously dogs are carnivores, what do you feed your dogs while staying true to your veganism? See you in a month!!

  • Bo

    I most definitely have some similar issues as a result of my internet usage in general. This is a very challenging mission, which I fully intend to complete. I have paintings to do, reading to do, and a reorganizing my mind to do….etc..etc. Good luck to you lady.

  • Meghan


    I don’t know about Sayward, but dogs aren’t carnivores, they are omnivores like us. While cats are obligate carnivores, dogs can eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. I know/have known many vegans in real life and on the internet that have fed their dogs vegetarian or vegan diets. I don’t have any companion animals because I am definitely a cat person, but wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to make cats be vegan. :-(

    Oh! And to be useful, I googled, and in this post and particularly the comments: Sayward discusses feeding her dogs a veg*n diet.

    (I’m cutting down on the internet for this MMM, but obviously not removing it all together, since here I am!) :-)

  • eternitysojourner

    brave soul you are for taking on this mission! most feel the same but do nothing about it. taking care of your “inner” world, will ultimately make your activism more authentic and sustainable, as i’ve learned. your family needs a “whole” you and so does any endeavour you pursue.

    i’ve been working on reducing my internet time and what helps me is identifying what priority tasks i need to do first before getting online and examining my purpose for each website/blog i check out. it also helps that my 3-month old is only sleeping for about an hour at a time. she needs to interact with me, not watch me interact with an inanimate screen.

    my monthly mission is to start an online course in family herbalism. being able to care for yourself and family, prevent illness, and avoiding the need for doctors is DIY city for me! hubby and i were managing just fine (for the most part) but with a little one who’s not yet vaccinated, i need to be better informed and more empowered.

    you haven’t lost me as a reader! i plan to return after a month! blessings on your journey and enjoy being “unplugged”! ;)

  • Diana

    Ha, this is a funny mission to stumble across as I revisit your blog after many months away – been a bit busy with my 8 month-old. But I totally relate to what you were saying about surfing instead of playing with your son, since I’ve done that too. Even worse, sometimes I resent the time my son takes away from other things. But I then I really started thinking, ‘what is spending time with my son keeping me from doing?’ And the answer is: nothing of great significance.

    The internet is such a time suck, and I know it’s not good for me. When I go online I tell myself it’s to do something for myself and have some me-time, but in the end I don’t feel better because I’m so undisciplined about it. Some things are useful and/or good for me (like this blog :), so my mission is to make the difference between aimless surfing that just wastes time, and constructive or necessary internet usage.

    I think having in mind that it’s part of a mission to cut down on the internet time and be mindful of what I’m doing online is going to be very good for me. Good luck to everyone else on this very necessary mission for the Internet generation!

  • Jay

    Aside from eating better out of the Crazy Sexy Diet book you recommended, my March goal is to not watch any TV at all, which is huge for me because I watch a TON of it. Three days in and I’m still detoxing, but I’m sort of liking the new pace of life without television…

    Good luck to you!

  • Sue Miller

    I miss you already, but have already begun a similar mission….good luck!
    Sue in Ohio

  • Michelle L

    I totally understand! I am known to take time off of my blog to deal with family matters, but it is always so hard! Enjoy your time away :)

  • Minna

    This must be one of the best missions, Sayward! Seriously. You are so inspirational. I think we all could use some time off the Internet. For me, I know I can’t ignore the tubes (I’m a student and all schoolwork goes through email, need to read articles etc), but I am going to limit my time on Facebook down to one visit per day. It’s a Huge time waster! So, each time I feel like checking FB, I’m going to read news/articles/even better – a book – instead. That’s gonna be a tough one, but knowing how big your mission is compared to my one FB visit per day… child’s play :)

    Good luck and ENJOY!

  • kory

    Ooooo…. ouch. I sooo need to do this… this part “I am hopelessly addicted to the Internet. I surf it when I should be working. I surf it when there’s nothing worth surfing. I surf it when I should be playing with my kid.” is so totally me right now… *breathe* I can do this… I can do this…

  • Jessie

    awww… i just discovered your blog and became an immediate fan. well, enjoy your break and look forward to your return! <3

  • Leah

    Sounds like a positive change. I quit my facebook games several months ago because I came to the conclusion that they were simply an epic waste of my time. However, I still feel I should edit my internet time. I check facebook umpteen times a day, fiddle around on google and youtube, and can spend HOURS looking around on etsy! I don’t journal anymore, I don’t draw, and I rarely crack open a book- and those are all things I have loved since I was a child.

    So, at this point, I will limit myself to one facebook check a day, and e-mail twice a week. Perhaps I will find time for the things I used to love, and might even find the time to CALL my Mom and my Aunt!

  • Christina

    Oh, I just found you! Oh well I hope you have a great month…Happy Birthday to your little one and I’ll be here when you come back.

  • jenny b

    Is it time yet? LOL :)

  • erosan

    Sigh… alright, confession time: I’m quitting this MMM. I don’t regret it, though. I learned something about my lifestyle.

    To me the whole don’t use internet but for half an hour after work just didn’t work. I am hopelessly addicted if you will, not to the internet, but to the information it provides. See, most of the time I don’t use internet for gaming or social network (in fact other than twitting once every month or so, the closest to social networking I do is post on this blog constantly), but to look for information. I google, wikipedia or otherwise search information pretty much 24/7. Internet is the best encyclopedia ever if you know where to search. And I need it. I can go for days without really using the net but for blurbs of 3 to 5 minutes for looking the name of that protein I was telling my friend that proves the chicken came before the egg while we were chatting the other night, for example (for the curious: ovocledidin-17).

    So there. I don’t feel like I failed the mission though. I know where my priorities are. I play with my kid and surf while he sleeps, I do my work just fine and I am not obsessed enough with facebook to have a blackberry to reply to every other post even while I’m in the john.

    That said, best of luck to all of you that are still giving this MMM a go.


  • Tasha

    If I weren’t a student, I would definitely take on this full mission – the internet is such a time suck! But alas, it would be impossible to keep up with my work, so I’ve given up Facebook as the next best thing. I began March 1 and after the first few days away I don’t even miss it anymore. It’s such a wonderful feeling!

    Good luck to everyone!

  • sj

    miss you friend! hope all is well and super productive/totally awesome/relaxing all in one!

  • TeniseRae

    I miss you tooooooo!!!!!

  • TeniseRae

    Alright! I think I’m going through some serious BA withdrawals now!! Ugh!!!

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Thought I would check in with a mid-month progress report, since I’m allowing myself a few minutes during the workday day to hop online for personal stuff. Here’s what I proposed:

    No more HootSuite (eek!); personal e-mail and Google reader will only be checked from work when I’m on a scheduled break and at the end of the day; and nothing at all after 9pm.

    And how am I doing? I’m happy to report that I haven’t been on HootSuite once since starting this. I was in the habit of just keeping it open all day, and I would glance over a lot more often than I’d like to admit. It’s disappointing how much my productivity at work has increased with this mission, because I always thought I was good about keeping internet time in check. (And as a supervisor, it is *imperative* that I do so.) As for staying offline and off my mobile after 9pm daily, I’ve amended it a little; if my husband and daughter are both asleep *and* I’ve gotten anything I need to get done around the house/studying/yoga/etc, then I turn my phone back on. Oh, the convenience of SMS technology – I practically don’t need a computer. I canceled the data plan on my phone a long time ago, which forces me to actually get on the computer to get online. But so much can be done via SMS! Hence the 9pm rule. And the most interesting thing is that I’m writing all of my freelance articles out by longhand – craziness! – and then putting them online completely polished, in one go. It’s like being back in high school and using the new computer lab (dudes, I’m almost 40, we had ONE computer lab and it was never full).

    Looking forward to Sayward’s return in 11 days, just in time for Friday Feedback and Love Lists!!

  • Meghan

    Why hello thar, ad banner! :-)

    I did really really well with this mission for the first uh… 4 days of the month. I admire those of you succeeding more than I!

    I think I just really need to come up with a plan that will work for me to break my internet addiction. I just haven’t found it yet. But I will!

    P.S. I really want your book to get published soon, because I have a feeling my husband won’t think “But I want to wait for the booooooook!!!” is a good excuse for not tryin’ to get knocked up yet. ;-)