The computer can be a colossal time-eater. Here are a few ways I have found to streamline the time I spend online (besides the obvious one, staying off altogether).
1. Use a feed reader.
I subscribe to all the blogs I read regularly on Google Reader. It’s a one stop shop, and now scanning through all this information takes just minutes. I’m able to subscribe to things I feel are truly helpful to me (blogs about Christian mothering, homeschooling, and health, for example) and skip the distractions that come by just surfing around.
2. Do things in batches.
How many times have I gone to the computer to look something up and ended up being there for 30 minutes? Looking something up turns to “just checking my facebook for a second,” which turns to answering correspondence or following links. I try to make a list of things I need to do or look up online and do them all at once, instead of wandering to the computer many times a day. If I do need to look something up quickly, sometimes I will stand. When I sit down in that comfy chair I’m tempted to stay longer!
3. Use a handheld device.
Maybe this goes without saying since most of us have smartphones these days, but using your phone or other handheld can be a big time saver. I think excessive multitasking can be detrimental, but it is nice and efficient to be able to check Google Reader, for example, when I’m doing something mindless.
4. Don’t get embroiled in pointless discussions and activities.
When I first became acquainted with the internet, I thought I had to respond to every question if I knew the answer, jump into every conversation if I had an opinion, and defend my position at all costs. Now I know that 99% of the time, the conversation will go on just fine without me and other people smarter than myself will comment. This leaves me free to join discussions that are truly meaningful and important. Some people really enjoy games. I find them a waste of time. I am sure there are things I do online that other people would consider a waste of time. The point is not to skip everything fun or recreational, but rather to choose wisely and do what is helpful for you.
5. Read meaningfully.
As I mentioned in #1, I try to mostly read things that will actually help me become better at what I do, or what I’m passionate about. Sometimes I succeed more than others. But my time is limited and the internet is almost unlimited. So I have to choose wisely where I will put my reading time.