Do you feel you’re spending too much time online? Is the Internet eating away at your productivity, or hindering actual relationships?
Sure, the Internet has streamlined our work processes and brought us closer together. And yet, ironically, it has negatively affected our real life interactions and made us less productive (because who wouldn’t rather watch cute cat videos than do actual work?).
But don’t sweat it. With a bit of effort, you can wean yourself off the Internet. Here are 7 ways to do it.
Honestly assess your internet usage
With social media and tons of websites on any conceivable topic just a click away, it’s easy to get sidetracked. After all, it’s only a five-minute break. Right?
A nifty trick is to start tracking your internet usage. There’s even an app, called RescueTime, that lets you know exactly where and how much time you’re spending online. Once you’ve seen the stats black on white, it’s much harder to kid yourself. You’ll be surprised at how much those “five minutes” add up!
Use email more efficiently
Before the internet was a thing, written correspondence was carried out via snail mail. This was tedious and could take a while.
Oh, how times have changed!
Nowadays, you can write an email, send it to multiple people in one go and get a reply within minutes. Awesome, huh? Unfortunately, it’s also surprisingly easy for email to take away a huge chunk of your day, or even become an end in itself. Figuring out ways to spend less time on your emails will cut down on your online time and make you more productive.
Choose phone calls over email
Remember when people used to get things done by having actual conversations?
Email sure is a quick and convenient way of getting a point across but it can also turn into a nightmare of interminable threads and people speaking at cross purposes.
Next time you read an email and something’s still unclear, just pick up the phone. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can sort things out.
Take a break, away from the computer
It’s a known fact that the brain can only focus for so long before it starts to wander. Expecting yourself to work for eight hours straight without a break isn’t just unrealistic, it’s downright inefficient and a first rate productivity killer. It’s much more efficient to work at something for a set amount of time and then take a break. There’s even a name for it - the Pomodoro Technique.
But it isn’t just about having a scheduled break, it’s also about what you do in that break. Get away from your desk, do some stretching exercises or go for a short walk to clear your mind. Bonus points if you leave your phone at the office.
More pointers on how to incorporate the Pomodoro Technique here.
No phones at the table
These days, it’s becoming increasingly common to see people in bars and restaurants completely zoned out and staring at their phones.
This makes us sad.
Here are groups of friends, families, even people on dates, and they’re staring at their phones and tweeting about what a great time they’re having instead of actually enjoying each other’s company.
Next time you’re at the table, even if you’re just having a quick breakfast at home, put your phone away where it belongs and engage in some good old-fashioned conversation with your loved ones.
No tech in the bedroom
There’s ample scientific evidence that technology can negatively affect our ability to go to sleep. Our body has specialized receptors which sense light and dark. These receptors cue the brain as to whether it’s time to wake up or go to sleep. Electronics emit light, which disrupts the body’s natural sleep cycle and promotes wakefulness.
Banning technology from your bedroom can drastically improve the quality of your sleep. It’s also much easier than you think. If you use your smartphone’s alarm to wake you up, consider getting an old school alarm clock instead. They look cool and they don’t receive emails. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and more productive, guaranteed.
Use the internet to enhance your life, don’t make it your life
Most importantly, make the internet a means to an end, not the end in itself.
Sure, the internet is a wonderful place full of endless possibilities, but that doesn’t mean it should become a substitute for real life experiences. So by all means, do use the Internet to connect with others, but turn those connections into meaningful real life relationships. It’ll be worth the effort.