Airplane mode for the undisciplined

I have trouble moderating my intake on the internet, particularly during my 90 minute commute to work. When I’m online, new and interesting content is easily accessible which means I don’t get to the books that I’ve bought, the emails that need a reply, the half-written blog posts, the programming projects or the interesting long-form articles that I’ve already saved for reading. Of course, new content isn’t bad, it just has diminishing returns and unfettered access to it, with my level of discipline, is a hindrance to doing everything else.

While I’d love to have the discipline to say no without any help, it’s more important to actually move forward, so unless I actually need (yes, need, not just want) to access something online, my iPad is in Airplane Mode (with WiFi and Bluetooth enabled i.e. no 4G data). My RSS feeds, Instapaper articles and email all automatically sync when connected to my home WiFi and work WiFi, so I do stay up-to-date, but only in batch mode.

Using Apps that are compatible with this workflow is important, and I’ve chosen them, where possible, so that they can operate in offline mode. This means that I can still process things that I’ve downloaded, but can’t get access to any more. Here are a few that I use that have some level of offline support:

  • RSS: Mr Reader
  • Long form reading: Instapaper
  • Email: iOS Mail (composing, but not deleting)
  • Writing: Evernote and Textastic (iCloud sync)

The internet isn’t the problem, I’m the problem, but this is one way that I can make sure the internet serves me, and not the other way around. I’ve tried to work this way for about 6 months, and while I sometimes fall back into old habits, it’s definitely been a win.