Today’s world has us on the Internet at work, on the Internet for leisure, on the Internet at home, and on the Internet even when we’re on the go. Surely that can’t all be time spent productively, plus, what does all that time spent connected do for our human connections?
Yes, we’re in touch with distant family and friends, and we have access to more information than ever before, but something primitive within us tells us we need to disconnect in order to reconnect to the family who live under the same roof, to nature, and to ourselves.
So if you’ve promised yourself that you’ll waste less time online, here are 10 tips to make it happen.
1. Unsubscribe from newsletters and other email you receive but don’t read. Take time over the next two weeks to go down to the bottom of unwanted or unsolicited emails and click the Unsubscribe link. Less email to go through means less time wasted online.
2. Have a plan when you go online. Don’t just sign on and wander about aimlessly, clicking on whatever looks interesting. Make a list of things you want to accomplish, just as if you were writing a grocery list before going to the store.
3. Set a timer. Buy a cheap egg timer and keep it on your desk. Try setting it for an hour. The ticking clock may keep you more productive, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly time runs out.
4. Schedule daily exercise. Even if you’re not willing to put a specific time limit on your Internet usage, schedule other activities that take place in the real world so that you have guaranteed time up and out of that chair.
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5. Remove apps from your phone that make social media easily available. Or consider canceling your data plan. If accessing the Internet from your phone isn’t essential for your job and you find yourself unnecessarily checking email or scrolling through Facebook at the dinner table, it’s time to consider this drastic measure.
6. Set an Offline Day. It doesn’t have to be a Saturday or Sunday, but that usually works best since those are traditionally non-business days and your family is most likely to be home. Do this at least once a week.
7. Find a new hobby that you love. Learn to knit, scrapbook or create other types of art. Take up bicycling, yoga, or kickboxing. Sign up for a cooking or foreign language class. You will expand your mind, keep yourself busy away from the computer, and if you love what you’re doing, you won’t even miss the Internet.
8. Sign off every evening. When you’re finished using the Internet for the day, sign out of your accounts and your browser so it isn’t as tempting or easy to jump online as soon as you wake up. Sit down and have breakfast. Watch the sunrise. Meditate or pray in silence for a few minutes. Make your bed. All these things help set the tone for the day.
9. Close those tabs! Don’t keep all your social media websites open in tabs while you’re working. Instead, sign out and focus on one task at a time. Leaving these types of constantly-updated websites open all day is a distraction that will slow you down and keep you on the Internet longer.
10. Download RescueTime. RescueTime is a “web-based time management and analytics tool” which helps with productivity in various ways. Focus Mode allows you block certain parts of the Internet for a specified amount of time. The time tracker in RescueTime tracks how much time you spend online and where you spend it. At the end of the week it will email you a detailed report with clear graphs. If you’re in denial about how much time you’re wasting online, here is the hard data you need for your reality check.