The Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it. ~ William Gibson Click To Tweet
The world is more connected than it’s ever been before. In just one click you can be chatting with friends on the other side of the world or accessing hours of entertainment that is tailored to your specific needs, immediate mood and individual preference.
You can research nearly anything in the entire world spanning the majority of human existence, and most of the time it’s pretty accurate.
The internet is unequivocally one of the greatest human inventions ever, if not the greatest.
It is also one of the greatest distractions, productivity blockers and time drains in most people’s lives.
All the information we could ever need is right there in the palm of our hands; too much information. We are most definitely in the age of information overload mixed with a dash of FOMO (fear of missing out).
But how damaging is all of this consumption to our physical health, psychological health and to our productivity? Over the past few years we’ve begun to realize that’s it’s not all that good at all.
Adverse effects can include the lowering of self esteem, increased stress levels and a disposition towards anxiety and depression.
Here are 4 ways to use the internet as a force of good in your life:
1) Optimize Your Social Media
Scrolling through social media can be a real time drain, the semi-interesting things that you come across and forget minutes later are not doing you any favours.
So it’s time to do some social media optimization, starting with Facebook.
Personally I delete people that I don’t see face to face within a year or so (with some exceptions such as family and childhood friends) but the less drastic option is to unfollow their posts. The next time they post something that’s a waste of your time click the little down posting arrow and hit unfollow.
You’re still ‘friends’ with them but you just don’t get the daily deluge of updates about their personal life. After a few days of culling you will find Facebook giving you just the updates of the people you’re really bothered about and that matter in your life.
The solution on Twitter is equally as simple, you may follow lots of people who you want to keep some sort of a track of but you don’t want to see all of their updates, simply add all of the people that you want to see regularly to a list and from then on use that list as your new timeline.
When you want to go back to all of the people you follow simply go back to your normal Twitter feed.
Think of these solutions as a data-filter, it’s great to have all of that data available but really you can’t keep track of it all or make sense of it all, filtering it allows you to make sense and just grab hold of the important stuff.
If you’re really serious about minimizing your social media time then deleting the apps is also likely to cut down your usage, having to open your browser and head to the website instead of using the convenient app is enough to put you off bothering some of the time.
2) Replace The Internet With Other Things
Just like those struggling to quit smoking, you might need something else to do with your hands, typing, clicking, scrolling and tapping have become ingrained into us, they are very intuitive processes and on a basic level very rewarding little experiences that offer immediate feedback.
And on an emotional level many people go on the Internet to connect with others and feel apart of something. While the internet is a part of most people’s profession lives, it doesn’t have to become the main source of our social and leisure time.
So instead of aimlessly reading a news feed, have a plan for what you will do instead. Feel the urge to check Facebook? Try calling up a friend instead. Have the urge to scroll through online shops even though you don’t really need anything? Why not walk to a local shop instead.
Establishing a direct plan like this will ensure you know what to do each time you feel an urge to go online without cause.
The internet is a superb form of stimulation and it would be difficult to imagine life without it, but we forget there are so many other healthier ways to stimulate your brain, that in reality don’t really cost any money or take lots of time away from us.
3) Have A “No Internet” Day
It might be time to go off grid.
Some call this the “Internet Sabbath” were for one day a week, thou shalt restrain from all things web-based. The great thing about having a no Internet day is that it only requires a one day commitment which most people are capable of on a regular basis.
Sharing your “Internet Sabbath” with friends is a great way to reconnect and encourage others to see how freeing unplugging for one day is. Making a tradition of sharing a meal or getting together on this day instills the habit and makes it that much easier.
You will be amazed at how much you get done without a smartphone or tablet distracting you. You will naturally be inclined to complete tasks you’ve been putting off and may even find yourself joyfully organizing the cutlery drawer.
And it’s important not to be too hard on yourself, sometimes you will need to use the internet on your no internet day, but that’s okay – maybe trade it for an hours no internet on another day.
4) Turn It Off
When all else fails there is one option that will guarantee you get off and stay off the internet.
Turn it off.
It’s a bit extreme and really, if you follow the above 3 ways to minimise your internet use, we think you shouldn’t have to take this drastic action.
Maybe it will be needed in extreme cases to enforce family time, but rather than going cold turkey having a healthier relationship with internet-use it the best long term solution.
So once you’ve come to terms with the internet and realised that it’s okay not to answer every email, see every Facebook update or favourite tweets everyday you can take a more relaxed attitude towards the internet and make it work for you, rather than being at its beck and call every time you hear a ping use it to serve you and improve your life.