Losing time online? Try an Internet diet.

Just like the “one more biscuit” or a “slither” of chocolate cake, it’s easy to over-indulge online. Searching for auction-site bargains, replying to emails, checking out our old flames on facebook, all internet-based activities can end up eating into our precious time. And it can be hard to stop following those enticing links to special offers, “OMG” news stories and Star Trek trailers…

If you find that online browsing is dominating your time, you are not alone in finding the internet addictive. There are a number of steps you can take to get a bit more balance between offline life and cyber space.

  1. Pick a social media day or time. Instead of constantly checking twitter, updating your facebook status and pinning onto Pinterest, try to only visit these sites at a regular time each day or, even better, on one day each week. You’ll probably be surprised at what little difference it makes to be out of the loop. Maybe you’ll actually talk to your friends instead. 
  2. Unlike more. Reduce the number of stories you see in your newsfeed on Facebook and you may well spend less time following them up. This doesn’t mean you have to unfriend everyone.

    One way to cut facebook traffic is to move some friends onto an “acquaintances” list; that way you’ll receive fewer updates from them.

    In addition, periodically go through your list of “liked” pages and prune them. You can do this by logging into your facebook account, editing your profile and going right down to the bottom of your profile page where all your “likes” are listed. Click in the top right hand of each box and you will see the option to “unlike”.

    Reduce the number of emails you have to deal with by unsubscribing from all the ones you don’t really want. An emptier inbox can also save time online.  

  1. StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you concentrate on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted hours or minutes have been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.

    It is highly configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc). StayFocusd is one of several good reasons to use Chrome as your internet browser. 

  1. WasteNoTime is another browser extension, available on Safari browser on Mac, and on Chrome, which is designed to help you manage the time you waste on the Internet by showing you the websites where you spend most of your time.

    You can then decide whether you are spending your time in the most productive way, or whether you are watching too many YouTube videos!

    As a result you may decide to remove these sites from your favourites/ bookmarks list, making them less easy to access quickly, or you may set up Block List to automatic block selected web sites as soon as you have spent predetermined amount of time on them each day. 

  1. Use an egg timer. A good old-fashioned hour-glass type, an alarm on your mobile phone, or http://e.ggtimer.com/ can help you keep your unproductive internet use to a minimum. For example, half an hour of accounts work, followed by five minutes checking your email. Then back to work. This does require good old-fashioned self-discipline as well, though! 

Thanks to guest-blogger, Alison Bayne, of Mumtopia