Have you ever recalled an afternoon writing a business report on your computer? If you know how to spend less time on the internet, you're aware of focusing on this one task. On the other hand, the next thing you know, a notification sign goes off on your web browser. It's a new message on your Facebook account: you only intend to check it for a minute, but end up scrolling through Facebook for the next 20 minutes.
How to spend less time on the internet
Even though the internet has made our lives easier and more convenient, it does have downsides as well. I'm going to list some of the best tips on how to spend less time on the internet. These tips include:
1.) Using a journal to keep track of your time
2.) Taking regular breaks
3.) Setting time blocks away from technology usage
4.) Utilizing block or disable icons on your computer
5.) Using software to limit your computer usage as well
How to spend less time on the internet: Use a journal
Writing time limits in a log will remind you not to spend too much time in one area. A general rule I follow is I set aside one hour daily to non-important tasks. Within the one-hour time slot, I break it down into the following:
- 30 minutes to checking and responding to emails
- 15 minutes to restrict social media accounts, instant messaging, chatting
- Fifteen minutes to anything else you desire: check the news, watch videos, etc.
Now, this may not be the exact breakdown for you, depending on your lifestyle. But I use this model to help me save more time on work I need to get done. Therefore, I set aside one hour each day to knock out these usual mundane activities. Before I started this practice, I ended up some days being stressed and not accomplishing much. Having this written down and sticking to them helps me stay focus.
Taking short breaks from electronic usage is vital to recharge yourself. My own rule is to take five-ten minute breaks after every hour I work on the computer. Whether it's getting up to stretch, moving your body around, or drinking water, whatever it takes to re-energize yourself, make an effort, so you're ready to go back to work.
What I've discovered over time by taking breaks is I found myself more energetic, very relaxed, and even more productive. I used to have days when I would continuously work without taking breaks. I felt not as focused or clear-minded I should be around the time. Using a computer (or a smartphone) for prolonged periods can have negative health consequences if it becomes a bad habit. Therefore, not taking regular breaks from spending time online can make you feel sluggish and slow.
Set time away from the internet
As valuable as the internet has become in society, it is crucial to set time aside for non-tech/internet activities. Whether it's meeting friends, going to the gym, or just being outdoors, these are very beneficial to live fulfilling lives. Regardless of what day it is, I force myself to get out of my apartment daily. It can range from a short walk, going to the store, or anything that requires me to get outdoors.
Based on my current schedule, I set a two-three hour time block away from my electronics and screen time. I may go to the gym, grocery shopping, or be outdoors and experience nature at it's finest. At times, I'll leave my phone at home just so that I don't get lured away. I know it may sound crazy, but you be amazed to find you are more focused than before. I put a time set aside where I clear my mind while not being distracted. Remember, it's okay to step away from your electronics or internet use temporarily.
Use Block-Offs/Add-on features
When you need to get meaningful work done, it's necessary to limit distractions while you are working on a computer. Web browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have add-ons where you can block-off sites that can easily distract you. Social media sites are enormous distractions. So you should turn off all notifications that pop up on your computer while doing serious work. The same method applies to smartphones. As an iPhone user, I usually turn off all messages in the settings' app, so I don't get easily distracted and throw away 10-20 minutes of my time
Use Time Management Software
There are some apps aimed to help people save time from computer usage. Software services such as RescueTime and Sanebox work well in saving time from using the internet. Additionally, apps such as SelfControl (for Mac users) and 1Focus are useful tools to keep track of your time spent on the internet. For iPhone users like myself, one great feature is the screen time app. This app keeps track of your phone usage and shows how much time you've spent on your phone daily and weekly. I check it often so I can monitor my time spent on my iPhone.
For iPhone users: Check out a brief video below on how to limit your screen time.
In the digital age, staying focused and getting more things done can be very challenging. At this point, technology and electronic usage are not going away, and that's not a bad thing. There is no need to get rid of our electronics (that sounds too extreme these days). But more importantly, we should be mindful of how we use technology effectively. Hopefully, these practical tips will help you manage your time while using the internet daily.
Which one of these tips do you like and will start applying to your daily habits?
Leave a comment below and please share this post with others.
Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.