Have you ever wondered how much time you waste on the Internet?
In a survey by Survey.com, 26 per cent of people admitted to wasting at least two hours every day. The participants named the Internet as the most significant time waster by a big margin.
A study by Tim Pychyl found out that participants spend an average of 47 per cent of their time online procrastinating. He calls this a “conservative estimate” in his book.
With so much time spent on the Internet, it’s no wonder why we end the day thinking: “Where did the rest of the day go?”
The Problem with the Internet
While the Internet has allowed us to be more productive, it amplifies our distraction loving mind. It’s a double-edged sword with productivity.
It’s so easy to get lost on the Internet, going from one distraction to another: from sports news, articles about Elon Musk, to checking Reddit to see how much karma you got on your last post.
The Internet allows us to do two things: Work and Distractions. Whenever we go on the Internet, we often have to decide between the two. Decision fatigue kicks in, and we get more prone to distraction as the day passes by. More often than not, the Internet distracts us. We go on social media, check emails, go on online communities.
Unless we get clear on what we’re using the Internet for, we do unnecessary work to procrastinate. We respond to meaningless email, we do unimportant things, or get sucked into news and entertainment.
This problem is why it’s important to practice mindfulness when using the internet. I call this mindful interneting. By practising mindful interneting, you become much more productive, and you get to spend your time better.
How to practice mindful interneting
- Start with intention. It’s easier to practice mindfulness online if you intend to be aware of your Internet use instead of surfing on autopilot.
- Use handwritten to-do-lists. Having your to-do-list on your phone makes it easy for you to slip into distractions when you need to check it out. While apps are useful, write what you need to do every morning on paper, and don’t check the app.
- List the tasks where you need to use the Internet. Use it when doing these tasks and disconnect when you no longer need it.
- Get an app to remind you to focus and be mindful of your actions or take a break. Some examples include BreakTime for Mac, Mindful Clock for the PC, and Chrome Extensions like Teeny Breaks and Mindful Internet Use.
- If you need to use the Internet for your tasks, use website blockers such as Freedom or Cold Turkey to block your distractions.
- Slow down and be aware of your actions. You can do this by pointing out what you are surfing. Saying to yourself: “I am scrolling through Twitter” sounds weird, but it will cause you to be aware of it, and you will spend less time on it.
- Block time to surf the Internet. If you’re starting with being mindful interneting, don’t go cold turkey—schedule time for you to surf your vices. You can go on Twitter and Netflix for an hour after the day’s work. Don’t do this at the start of the day, as it might distract you from starting your tasks.
- Give new meaning to how you use the Internet.
- You think you are missing out, but you’re not missing anything because wasting time on the Internet does nothing for you.
- You think the Internet is something you need to be social, but it’s not. You can be social without using the Internet at all.
- You think browsing the Internet is about relieving stress, but it’s not. It does not calm you down; it amplifies your anxieties and fears.
Start being mindful of your Internet use.
While mindful interneting enables you to waste less time, it also nudges you to focus on your most important tasks. You won’t get sucked into distractions and waste time on unimportant things like social media and email.
Keep in mind that you might face some setbacks while trying this out. You will get stuck in a rabbit hole now and then, but trying it out is better than nothing.
I don’t dislike the Internet. I value my productivity too much to stay connected all the time. You don’t want to look back and think about all the things you could’ve achieved if you disconnected.
So start now.
Try disconnecting from the Internet for thirty minutes tomorrow.