I don’t know about you, but the Internet has the potential to be one of the biggest time-suckers in my day. It’s easy to say I need to hop online and do a bit of research or get my work done, and then feel justified in turning my back on other duties. That’s why I had to come up with real ways to cut my Internet time—and the same ideas can work for you!
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The reality is, I hop online to see what’s happening on Facebook and a few forums I belong to, check in with my friends and, in short, start connecting with the world. And isn’t that what we’re really looking for online—ways to feel connected? Connections matter, especially if you’re a writer who is otherwise cut off from other adults all day, every day.
Thankfully, there are real ways to cut your Internet time….without feeling cut off.
Research for work and all your writing projects—a.k.a. legitimate time online—is not what I’m talking about in this post. There may be situations where that time needs to be monitored too, but what I’m referring to in this post is the time spent playing. Dialing back your fun time will allow you to whip through those items on your to-do list.
Reduce Internet usage over time
This is, by far, my favorite trick. Like any good habit, disciplined use of the Internet is formed with practice, over time. Have you ever tried to cut yourself off all at once? How long did that last before you felt so alone and disengaged that you had to sneak back online just for a little peek?
Instead, try cutting back a little more each day to make room for the things that really matter. Consider your goals and internalize your priorities, the goals you’ve been ignoring in order to order to watch cute kitten videos.
Block off a chunk of time to play
Realize that it’s okay to spend time connecting with your friends and seeking entertainment online—in moderation. Setting a certain amount of time is more efficient than checking in throughout the day. A minute here, a few minutes there all add up to more time spent than if you set aside a half hour in the morning and/or at lunch.
Use a good, old-fashioned timer if you need the additional help. (By the way, blocking your time works for all kinds of tasks and is much more efficient than multi-tasking!)
Turn off notifications
If you’re like me, you get a little rush every time your phone buzzes with a new message, but what a distraction! Recently the email app on my phone was glitchy and I stopped receiving notifications. Guess what? I forgot about email.
Most likely, all Facebook/Twitter/Instagram notifications can wait until an appointed time. You can easily turn off all notifications and get on with your day.
Block specific sites
There are programs and apps that can help you by blocking specific sites that you know you have trouble staying away from. Cold Turkey, Chrome Nanny and Focal Filter are just a few. I haven’t tried these myself, so use at your own risk!
List your favorite sites
This is an important step in not feeling cut off from your main connections! List your favorite sites in order of importance. By importance I mean the places online where you have the most emotional investment, the places you can’t fathom doing without. This may take a bit of thinking but it’ll pay off. Then, stop visiting your least favorite first and keep working your way up the list until your Internet time is in line with your priorities.
If you work online, chances are you’re involved in some type of social media. And we ALL know how easy it is to get sucked into social media! I mean, have you ever clocked how much time you spend on this? The best thing to do is automate your social media as much as possible—meaning it’s time to be reasonable. While we still want to be authentic with our audiences, there are some bits we can automate with tools such as:
Mass Planner: this tool is used for following and unfollowing people on all major social media platforms, as well as liking posts and even commenting.
Boardbooster: another tool for Pinterest users to help automate pinning because let’s face it, as much as we love Pinterest, we can’t spend all day online!
It all comes back to knowing your priorities and what you really want out of life. Do you want to play online or do you want to write a book, compose a great work or run a marathon? Or do you want to watch yet another puppy video? We all get the same 24 hours and you get to decide what to do with yours. Your life is the sum total of how you spend each day, so make it count!
Have you ever felt like you needed to cut your Internet time?