In my quest to become more disciplined in 2016, I am focusing on better managing my time online. Yes, I gave up my smartphone a year ago for this very same reason. Recently, however, some of my bad habits have crept back in on other devices.
For whatever the reason, this is an area where I really lack self-control. If you do not struggle with checking in on social media several times a day, you rock. Seriously, I want some of what you’ve got.
But since you’re here, I’m guessing you might have room to make some improvements as well. So, I’m going to tell you how to kick this habit for good. Are you ready?
Step 1) Sell your smartphone.
Step 2) Disconnect your internet and live off the grid.
Just kidding. Although there are times when I feel like that’s the only way to escape all the noise that social media can bring.
But, since this is the real world, I’m sharing with you some practical ways to manage your tech time.
1) Set boundaries and enforce them.
Recently, I have shifted my daily planning into “time blocks.” This allows me to focus on one task at a time. Before, I felt like I was trying to do a lot of things at once but not doing any of them well.
With time blocks for homeschooling, housework, errands, business and blogging, I don’t have to stress. I know what needs to be done is scheduled and will be completed during the appropriate block.
So, I am applying the same principle to my social media time. And to enforce this schedule, I am using a program called Cold Turkey. I love this program because I tell it which distracting websites to lock me out of and for how long. I’ve even included my own blog in the list because it can really take over my day if I let it.
I used the free version for awhile and it was fine, but I recently opted for the paid version. The paid version has a scheduling feature, so I can tell it when to open the window and when to close it again. With the free version, I was responsible for “closing the window” once it was opened and I wasn’t so great at that.
My social media window is now open from 7:30 – 8:00am (I’m using this as a “reward” for getting up and completing my morning routine on time. If I don’t and I miss it, I have to wait until the next window opens.)
The next window is from 2:00 – 4:00pm, during my kids’ afternoon nap/rest time. This doesn’t mean I’m on Facebook the whole two hours, just that it’s accessible. This is when I do almost all of my writing/blog work. Once 4:00pm rolls around and my kids are up, the window automatically closes again.
Lastly, I have one more check-in from 8:30-9:00pm. Again, a type of incentive for staying on schedule and getting my kids into bed on time. The best part is I’m no longer losing sleep by mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest or Facebook.
This might sound overly restrictive but I have found so much freedom within these boundaries! It forces me to be intentional with my time before it runs out. Which brings me to my next tip…
2) Have an agenda.
If you’re like me, you rarely get online with the intention of wasting time. It always starts out innocently enough. A thought pops into your head…
Hmm, what’s the answer to that question? Let me Google it real quick.
Muffins. I want blueberry muffins. I bet there’s a recipe for super easy blueberry muffins on Pinterest.
Oh, wow. We’re running low on toothpaste. I should add that to my Amazon Subscribe & Save order.
But nine times out of ten, once I got on my computer, I would do “my rounds” checking in on various social media sites. Next thing I knew, thirty minutes had passed and I had completely forgotten what I was online for in the first place.
Now, instead of running to the computer each time a task pops into my mind, I write them all down to complete whenever my next window opens. This may seem silly, but it’s working to keep me on track!
I created a printable to help keep me organized. Now, it’s simple to jot down my ideas as they come to me and I am much more productive with my online time.
I am in no way affiliated with any of the programs mentioned in this post. I am only sharing from my own personal experiences. If you are like me and sheer willpower just isn’t cutting it, then I highly recommend looking into one of these programs.
Other Resources You May Find Helpful
- Use an app like RescueTime (PC, Mac or Android) or Moment (iPhone) to log your usage. (Warning: Results can be shocking. Not for the faint of heart.)
- Other programs available for blocking distracting sites: Anti-Social (Mac or PC) and Freedom (Mac, PC, Android, iPhone/iPad)
- Article: Why My iPhone is Better as a Dumb Phone (I found this to be really interesting. If I had seen it a year ago, I might not have ditched mine after all.)
What works for you? Do you have any tips to share for using your screen time wisely? I am always interested in hearing new ideas, so please share in the comments!