Why Cyberloafing is a Spiritual Problem for Christian Writers
What does it mean to “redeem the time” if you are a Christian writer?
We are all familiar with the passage where this idea is found: ”Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Now, more than ever, we need to make the most of our time if we are writing Christians books that we hope will bring salt and light to our sin weary world.
But it’s not easy. Christian writers are just as likely to engage in cyberloafing as anyone else.
What is cyberloafing? You may not have heard the term before but you have done it.
It’s when you’re working away in a high productivity mode and suddenly a demon within you says, “It’s time to check Facebook.”
You lose all motivational momentum as you stop to satisfy your irrational desire to see what’s happening on Facebook, check prices on something you want to buy, watch cat videos or otherwise take a mental vacation from the task at hand.
This is a serious problem. According to a 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal, there are studies that show businesses in the US lose as much as $85 billion each year due to this kind of employee cyberloafing. The loss may be far greater if you are writing for the Lord.
Why is cyberloafing such a threat to you as a Christian writer?
Writing requires devotion. Most Christian writers feel they have a connection with the Lord as they write. You break it when you succumb to thoughts that take you away from the ideas he is giving you. It’s an undisciplined act that becomes nothing more than a bad habit if you allow it.
It’s a lot like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29-34). Christian writers are trading their creative flow for the emotional jolt they get from checking their Facebook page.
This is not to say you shouldn’t have breaks. However, to keep your focus you should schedule them. A break for reflection or prayer is desirable, even a snack or exercise break is good, but you never want to abandon your work on a whim.
Why Cyberloafing is a Spiritual Issue
Your time is valuable and cyberloafing squanders it. You want to be concerned about this as a Christian writer. If you’re wise, you have writing word count goals but you can’t meet them if you give in to cyberloafing.
In a study, Professor Triana of the University of Wisconsin Business School determined that cyberloafers spent up to 2.5 hours each day away from their work. Even if you only type 30 words each minute, that means you’ll write 4,500 fewer words that day, 22,500 fewer words during the work week.
Lost time builds up when you are gone cyberloafing for just 10-15 minutes at a time. But as most of us know, cyberloafing can easily turn into chronotaraxis, which is the distortion or confusion of time. We take a minute to check the price on an item at Amazon.com, for example, and the first thing we know we are also comparing prices and reading reviews. We lose an hour or more when we intended to leave our work for only a few minutes.
You may say, “It’s my time, I’ll waste it if I want.” But is that true for a Christian writer? No, not if we acknowledge we are bond-servants to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:22) and understand what that implies. Hymn writer Isaac Watts understood and penned these words: “Dear God, let all my hours be thine.”
How You Can Redeem Your Writing Time
The first thing you can do pertains primarily to writers. Most of us are doing research on the Internet, so that’s kind of like working in a dynamite factory. We want to make dynamite, but we don’t want it to blow up in our hands. In either case it’s easy to get distracted and that’s when something bad happens.
That’s one reason I have been a longtime advocate of doing book research independently of writing. Get all your research done before you start writing. You don’t need the distractions that come with simultaneously researching and writing. If you are missing some fact, simply put a marker at that point in your writing and do your research after your writing session has ended.
The second thing a person can do is more general. If you have self-control issues, you can put a site blocker on your Internet web browser. For example, if you use Chrome, you can go to the Chrome Google web store and choose from the many site blockers they have available.
They block the sites you are tempted to use. You select them. Most are time-triggered so you can block Facebook for four hours, for example. If you’re wise you’ll set it to eliminate temptation during the entire work period you have set aside whatever that time may be.
The idea of a Christian cyberloafer is in direct conflict with the calling of a Christian writer. It is time to repent if you are a Christian writer and are a cyberloafer.