I wasted . . .
- 15 minutes on ThiftBooks.com searching for and ordering the last four books in a series I am reading.
- 20 minutes checking out the new Hallmark Christmas movies for the coming Holiday Season.
- 15 minutes reading through posts on Facebook (I was munching on my peanut butter toast at the same time, so maybe not a complete waste of time.)
50 minutes of my day gone — and I hadn’t done a minute’s worth of work. Sadly . . . that is just today.
What About You?
The Internet is an amazing place to spend time. The temptations are boundless. It is filled with information that appeals to any age and can be accessed so quickly it sometimes boggles the mind.
If you are like most people, you spend far more time on the Internet that you should.
The average American adult spends more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media. Six hours and 42 minutes of that are spent online.
If you have fallen prey to the enticement of unlimited information at the touch of your fingers, it is probably time to implement a few practices that will assist you in using your time more effectively.
7 Ways to Stop Wasting Time on the Internet
The Internet can be a powerful distraction, but the techniques listed below have been useful in helping me overcome the siren’s call of the keyboard — most of the time.
The suggestions are not necessarily easy and will require some serious self-discipline, but with practice, they become easier. The results will also be encouraging and can be an incentive to keep up the good work.
1. Face Down Your Enemies
Over the next few days, list every website you visit and the amount of time you spend on each one.
Then organize the list in their importance to you and the benefit you receive from this — the lists should range from “critical information for work” to “total waste of time.”
The last category would include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, etc., which are entertainment only.
If you don’t have the willpower to resist visiting unnecessary websites and/or your work involves using the Internet, install site-blocking software for various browsers such as LeechBlock for Firefox and StayFocusd for Chrome. The applications can be set for 24/7 or to work at required time intervals.
Check out this website for other available choices — many of them are free: The Top 10 Website Blocker Software and Browser Extensions. In addition to acting as your personal willpower valet, they will also protect your kids from inappropriate site visits.
2. Say No to Temptation
Resist the driving need to start your day reading the headlines and checking out what’s happening in the world and/or gathering the latest sporting event scores. That can easily kill 30 minutes to an hour.
The Internet is the greatest procrastinating tool of all times. With a few clicks, you can look up anything that pops into your head. You also have your favorite, bookmarked sites that are irresistible.
If you don’t work for a corporation where your Internet activity is monitored — pretend you do. It may ease some of the temptation to use valuable time surfing the net or visiting your favorite sites. Remember — time is money for you, as much as it is for corporations.
3. Be Well-Prepared
Have a designated computer for work only. Be sure it is clear of extraneous files and information. It should be set up and ready to go when you sit down in the morning.
Have all the documents and information you need for the day’s projects quickly accessible on that computer.
Jumping from one device to another is distracting and increases the temptation to “take a minute” on the Internet; plus you have to refocus each time you switch.
Get comfortable, focus on the job at hand using your designated computer and go for it.
4. Be Purposeful
Do not open the Internet unless you know exactly what you are looking for. Intentional logons, rather than random, reduce the possibility of being sidetracked.
Be “a man (or woman) with a plan.” Logon — do what you need to do, or find what you need to find — and logoff.
5. Be Accountable
Hold yourself accountable for the way you use your time. There are good time-tracking apps to help you plan your day and track time spent on each task. YOu can also do it the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper.
As you schedule blocks of time, include small blocks for checking email. Unless your work depends on communication with clients/business partners, it would be smart to limit it to once or twice (at most) per day.
Also, schedule time for Social Media (preferably after work) — “Keeping your use down to just 30 minutes a day can lead to better mental health outcomes,” according to research published in December in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
Time tracking keeps you honest — and highlights time wasted on the Internet so you can make adjustments, as necessary.
6. Take Control
Set autoreply on your email and don’t check it except at scheduled times.
Set your phone on “do not disturb” or turn the phone OFF if you can’t resist checking messages or using it to quickly surf the Net.
Accept the fact that you cannot multi-task. The brain can only focus on one thing at a time.
If you continue to work under the assumption that you can multi-task, it is far too easy to rationalize that it is OK to have the Internet open while you are working on something else, or while talking to a customer on the phone, etc.
When you are in multi-tasking mode, your mind is actually quickly moving back and forth between tasks (refocusing with each switch) and slowing you down (wasting time) in the process. You are not giving each task your full attention, which means productivity and effectiveness suffer.
7. Give Yourself a Rest
Make Sunday a 12-hour digital-free “day of rest.”
Give your mind, body, and fingers a rest. NO TV, Computer, phone, etc. (7 am to 7pm.) Disconnect for a full 12 hours — a complete “day of rest.”
This will be the most difficult technique to implement. Addiction to phones and computers is a fact of life. At first, it may feel like the world will end if you are not connected. But . . . it won’t!
Spend the day doing anything you want . . . or doing nothing at all. The only rule is that you relax and enjoy the time free of all electronics.
Play with your kids or grandkids, cook, walk, hike, swim, dance, read, sleep, or sit in an easy chair and stare into space. Reconnect with nature, your family, and yourself.
When Monday comes around, you will be surprised at your sense of well-being, your ability to focus, how the need to be constantly connected to the Internet has diminished, and how much more you will accomplish. A “day of rest” can change your life.
Accept the Challenge
I challenge you to monitor yourself for the next few days.
- Find out how much of your valuable time are you wasting every day mindlessly surfing the Internet and being glued to a digital device.
Take advantage of all the extra time you will have once you free yourself of time-wasting activities on the Internet.
Life is short — time is limited — make it all count.