I think as stay-at-home moms, it’s very easy to let things suck up our valuable time. For me (and maybe for some of you, too) the computer has historically been a big distraction. I knew I was spending a little too much time online, and I toyed briefly with disconnecting our home internet service altogether, but since I shop and research online, and because I use internet resources for our homeschool, that didn’t seem like the best solution. What I needed was more self-discipline!
Here’s how I’ve (mostly) conquered my temptation to spend too much time online and not enough time in real life.
First, I owned up to the fact that I was spending too much time on the computer when I should be spending it with my children, or doing other things God has called me to do. Confession and repentance are key in changing behavior.
Next, I utilized a few internet tools to simplify the time I spent online. Facebook has been a huge help in keeping up with friends and family. Sure it’s fun, but it’s also been very practical for me. Most of the people I contact regularly are on Facebook, so it’s a one-stop shop for communication. I also subscribed to blogs I read using Bloglines. Instead of clicking through long link lists for updates, I just have to go to one place to see who has updated. Subscribing to each blog or feed made me carefully consider whether or not I really needed to stay up to date with this particular information source. I eliminated a lot of blogs I used to check regularly, saving the ones that are most helpful to me as a wife and mom (and a couple that I read just because I enjoy them or find them inspirational). Now when I get online, I typically only go 3 places: email, Facebook (trying to avoid the temptation to play games or get sucked into the more time-intensive aspects of it…I use it mostly as a glorified email service), and Bloglines.
The final and most helpful thing I’ve done is to leave the computer off until after lunch. I don’t even check email in the morning any more. Although I wasn’t spending hours at a time online, it was easy to “just check one thing” for a couple minutes, and before I knew it my whole day was derailed. Those few minutes add up. This is probably a no-brainer to most of you, but it has revolutionized my days. When my mornings go badly, the whole day is shot. I stay on track much better when the computer is not calling my name. If I think of someone I need to write or something I need to look up, I keep a running list and handle it all in one session after lunch, while the kids do something quiet. (This way I also know they are not running wild while I am distracted…I am sure my kids are the only ones who take advantage of mom’s distraction!)
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my online time and I don’t believe it’s wrong at all, if properly managed, just as I don’t think watching TV or engaging in other recreation is wrong. Balance and discipline are the keys. I just want to make the most of my time. In 50 years I cannot imagine saying, “I sure wish I had spent more time on the computer and less time with my family.”
So what about you? How do you manage distractions and time-wasters in your day?