How do you Unplug and How Should You Use Your Time Online?
How do you manage internet time, and when do you know if you’re having too much internet? This article will answer all these questions for you, but first, let’s look at too much internet and its negative effects.
In this internet age, perhaps you can never go a day without going online. When you do login, what do you mostly spend your time on?
What is the large chunk of your time spent on in the internet? Is it browsing through your news feed and reading status updates of your friends? Is it watching videos? Is it reading articles? Is it playing a browser game? If you’re not sure, the next time you sit in front of the computer, bring a timer with you and record the time you spend online. Also, tally what you do with its corresponding time spent. If your results display a large part of your time on tasks that aren’t really necessary and what you call important, then, you might want to reinvent the way you manage your internet time.
Additionally, you might also like to look at how much time you spend on the internet. If it’s half or almost similar to the time you spend sleeping, then, you may want to cut down on your internet time.
Too Much Internet and Its Negative Effects
When is too much internet? You know it’s too much when you don’t really get much out of being online. The internet is supposed to be a convenient way to get information and to complete processes. But if you get more negative effects compared to the benefits, then, you are spending way too much time in front of the computer. What are these negative effects? There are several, but we’ll only discuss two main things that will directly affect you: sleep and productivity.
The most likely instance that you are online is at night, because that’s the only time you have, if you have work or school during the day. Hence, if you spend a lot of time online, the most probable case is that you get less sleep.
Let’s say you get home at about 6 in the evening. You watch a little TV, eat dinner, and start your internet session at about 8 PM. You go ahead and do what you usually do: check your email, check your Facebook and Twitter, upload some pictures, watch videos, read some interesting articles, and so on. You enjoy what you’re doing, and before you know it, it’s already midnight. If you stop and go to sleep, you could still get a good six to seven hours of rest, but if you don’t and you still go on, you’ll sleep lesser than recommended, and that will hurt you the next day. Since you lack sleep, you won’t be in top condition to perform. Your focus won’t be as good and you’ll feel sleepy before the day ends. Additionally, if you make this a habit, it could affect your health as your body won’t be able to recharge at the time that it’s supposed to, because you’re awake.
While it is true that the internet was made to help make things faster, such as acquiring information, it can hurt your productivity. The main reason is because it is a source of distraction. The internet not only is a great source of information, but it also has a lot of other interesting and fun places to go to. You can play games, watch videos, listen to music, chat with friends, look at pictures, shop, and a whole lot of other fun things that will most likely distract you from what you really need to do. Hence, being online exposes you to tons of distraction, which you might not resist if you don’t have a good strategy of dealing with it.
For example, when you watch a video in Youtube, you tell yourself you’ll only watch this one, but while watching it, you notice something interesting on the side bar, so, after the video ends, you click on that video and watch it. Then, the same thing happens until you’ve watched about ten or more videos, when you initially only wanted to watch one. Let’s say each video is about 4 minutes, so if you’ve watched about ten, that would mean you wasted 40 minutes of your time, when you could have used that to finish your important tasks.
The same goes for Facebook. When you login, the first thing that you probably check is your notifications. You look through all of them and give additional comments. Then, when you’re about to close it, a notification appears on your wall, so you check it out. Then another one comes, and another, and another. It will go on and on, until you’ve noticed that you’ve made a chatroom out of a single wall post or uploaded photo, or you’ve checked through all your news feed and replied to most of them. It’s a big time hugger and it’s incredibly magnetic, no doubt about it.
Now that you know the negative effects of too much internet, what should be the next course of action? You can do two things: start with unplugging for a day or two: look at life without internet and then, reinvent the way you use your internet time, or immediately start with the latter.
I suggest to start with unplugging, because it will help you see what life is like if you remove the internet out of the picture. This will also help motivate you to spend less time on the internet and spend more on the outside world, doing things that matter.
The least you can do this is for a day. You essentially just have to turn off the computer and remove yourself in front of the PC. You can do whatever you want as long as it does not involve interacting with a device, such as playing with your game console or watching TV. Take this day off and relax or get some sleep. You could even read a book, go out and hang out with friends, go to the beach, or start a new hobby.
At the end of this exercise, reflect on your experience. What positive thing did you experience that you weren’t able to when you were logged in? Keep that in mind and then proceed to managing your internet time.
Managing Internet Time
To manage your internet time, you basically need to do two things: to set your priorities and to set a time limit. Both need to be done in the order presented to set an appropriate time limit for each.
Set Your Priorities
In order to manage your time, you must first have a clear idea of your priorities, specifically what you want to accomplish in the time you use the internet. Is it for work? Is it to have fun? Is it to learn something new? Is it to communicate with friends? List them down in order, with the first one being your number one priority. These items will be used in setting a time limit, so keep them.
Set a Time Limit
Once you’ve got your priorities straightened out, set a time limit for your usage of the internet, so that you can control what you do and how much time you spend on them. If you don’t have a limit, you might just go on aimlessly surfing online for hours on end and forget to focus on what’s important, such as the tasks that you need to accomplish. This limit depends on the tasks that you have lined up to do. So, give a rough estimate of how long it will take you to complete them, if these are the only things you’ll do. That means, you won’t check other websites that are not related to work. Then, set another hour or less for the other things you want to do online. For example, two hours can be a good time limit if you only need to do a few things such as research, check your email, and watch the new video of a certain Youtuber.
Next, divide your time limit among the items on the list. You can choose to divide it evenly or have more time for items that you consider as top priorities, such as items 1 and 2. You can then distribute it evenly for the rest. Let’s say you have three items on your list: work, fun, and communicate with friends. If you have two hours to spare, you can assign an hour for work, thirty minutes for fun, and another thirty minutes for communication. Remember that this is merely an example, and these time limits may even be too much, so think of a range that is efficient and is enough to fulfill your needs.
In addition to setting the time limit, you must ensure that you follow and stick to it so that you can free up some time for yourself, and for some productive activity. Setting up an alarm that will go off when the time is up is a great idea. Once you hear the alarm, logout and turn off your computer unit. No extensions and no more excuses. You’ve reached your time limit and you should stop whatever you’re doing.
Now that you have spare time, use it wisely. Do something productive with it. You can schedule an activity with your friends and family, decide to start a new hobby, or get the sleep that you need, especially if it’s already late. Take note that you’re managing your internet time because you want to be productive while doing so, and you want to free some time for yourself. Hence, be creative with what you use this free time on, and prioritize your health above anything else. If it’s late and you need to sleep, you don’t have to force yourself to spend time with friends or work on a hobby. Just go to bed and close your eyes.
About the author: Jorge Blanco is a personal development junkie, expert on goal setting, time, project, and life management, a master strategist and planner, and a passionate entrepreneur. He is the author of Design Your Life: 5 Steps To Create The Life You Want, a complete guide to making a positive change in your life, and living a life by design, and the Goal Setting Workshop, a blog about goal setting, productivity, and personal development.