Strategies for Getting Offline

Let's say you spend four hours a day on meaningless internet content. Assuming you sleep for eight hours, that's three months a year. Three months a year on Youtube, social media, and Netflix. If you sat a child in front of a television all day for three months, it would be considered child abuse. 

If you started at 16 years old and live to be 76, you will have spent fifteen years on meaningless internet content. Imagine realizing on your death bed that you wasted fifteen years watching Youtube and reading tweets. Fifteen years you didn't spend with your children. Fifteen years you didn't spend pursuing your values. The thought terrifies me.

If you want to get offline, here's a few strategies that might be helpful. You may not be able to quit cold turkey, but these tips might make the journey easier. I hope they help you to live a meaningful life.

Feel free to send me an email and let me know if they work.

The Internet

Use a content blocker

It may be obvious, but a good blocker is an effective way to gain control over your online activity. If you're habituated to a particular pattern, trying to address the problem with direct willpower often fails. Habits are subconcious, and so a simple conscious decision might not be enough. It's good to address the problem structurally, like how a recovering alcoholic might avoid going to a certain part of town. A content blocker is that kind of indirect, structural modification.

I recommend Cold Turkey, which I've used for a few years. There's many different ways to set up blocks and rules, so it feels supportive instead of restrictive.

Schedule internet downtime in your router

Your router's built-in features can be a decent alternative or supplement to a content blocker. Many routers allow you to schedule periods without internet access. 

By scheduling regular downtime, you can intentionally practice being away from the internet – maybe it's all evening, a few hours before bed, or just dinnertime. However you want to schedule it, it's a great way to be intentional about being offline.

The Devices

Let your gadget expire (or downgrade)

If you can't give up the smartphone, then consider letting it expire.The technology improves so quickly that after a few years your old phone will feel closer to a simple phone than the latest iPhone. And then it's easier to make the switch.

Alternatively, you could immediately downgrade by purchasing an old smartphone from eBay. 

Get two phones

Get a smartphone and a simple phone, and move your sim card to test the waters. You don't have to make the conversion, but you can see how it feels. Maybe you need the smartphone during the week, but want a lower-tech experience for the weekend. All you have to do is switch a sim card.

But be careful which simple phone you buy. Most of them aren't the quick, minimalist experience we like to imagine. They often run an operating system too powerful for it, which creates a slow, frustrating experience. They almost seem designed to get you back on a smartphone. I recommend Nokia's 225.

"Can't I just use my old flip phone?"

I wish, but probably not. Old phones run on networks that are being phased out in the US. 

Leave the device at home

Go on a walk or drive without any devices. There's no commitment, and everything will be waiting for you when you get home. Pay attention to any anxieties you have about the experience. If you feel a profound sense of dread, that's a good indication you should reconsider your relationship with the internet.

And once you're comfortable with a short break, try a longer one.

Make the screen black and white

Most devices have an option in the accessibility settings to turn the screen monochrome. Without the intense colors, you'll find the draw to be weaker. It's like a slot machine without flashing lights.

The Profiles

Delete one social media account

It may be too much to delete your entire online life all at once. So consider deleting just one account. If you only occasionally use Twitter, for example, just go ahead and delete it. You'll see how it feels to be without it, and eventually be able to handle more.

Clean your profiles

If you don't want to get rid of any accounts just yet, go through your profiles and start removing things you don't want up and unfollowing/unfriending people. A good social media audit may help you realize just how little you actually need the thing.

And Beyond

Do a thirty day experiment

Set up your content blockers for a month of no-fun-on-the-internet. See what it's like for thirty days with no Youtube, no forums, no social media, no streaming, and no fun on the internet of any kind. It's not forever; it's just an experiment. But after a couple weeks, you'll gain an interesting perspective on your relationship to the internet.

Follow your other interests without hesitation

Once you have some space between you and the internet, make sure you follow whatever interests arise. Do you suddenly want to try knitting? Go find a craft store. Would it be cool to grow potatoes? Do it. Follow those interests without hesitation. You don't have to knit or grow potatoes forever, but there's something good in that direction. They're little elements of the meaningful life making themselves known. 

Talk about your experience

Talk to your loved ones about what you're doing. Be transparent about your experience and how you're feeling. Are you feeling better or worse? What do those feelings mean?

Life doesn't immediately become better once you're offline. You might feel a sense of loss or emptiness. You might feel like a car that's rev'd up with nowhere to go. But it won't be long before the quality of your experience improves. Working on your relationship with the internet is a serious challenge. And so having people to support you is invaluable.


You're trying to improve your life, and that's one of the most admirable things a person can do. I hope you find these strategies useful, and I wish you all the best.