All right, yesterday I wrote about 5 time drains. And I’ve admitted to you before, that managing online time is something I struggle with. Giving up Facebook certainly helped, but I’ve realized that, over the winter, I’ve still spent more time on teh internets than I should.
And–the funny thing–is that nearly everyone I talk to says the same thing. Which has led me to do some thinking.
Why Does the Internet Have so Much Appeal?
Why are we so content to stare at our computer screens, for hours a day? What does the Internet do for us, for me?
Well, in my case, being online provides me with…
- A creative outlet and a hobby.
- A chance to contribute something positive to society and the world in general (albeit a small population of the world!)
- A community in which I belong.
- Incredible, intellectual discussions.
- Friendships as close as any in “real life.”
So, obviously “just saying no” is not the answer, as recreational online time does serve a real, positive purpose. In fact, that is what I learned when I gave up most of my online time for Lent last year.
So what’s the problem?
The problem comes when this online time interferes with the rest of our lives. Admit it: there have been times when you’ve been on the computer, when you probably would have enjoyed doing something else, much better. I will confess that I have spent sunny days checking the same blogs over and over again, and that there are times I missed out on opportunities to play with my daughter, because I was staring at the screen.
It’s really a matter of balance and moderation–two things that we really struggle with in Western cultures!
My plan, to find a bit of balance with my online time, is twofold. First, I am going to be more intentional with the time I spend online. I will focus on one task at a time, rather than trying to multi-task. When I’m blogging, I’ll keep my e-mail closed. When I’m doing work-related tasks, I will resist the temptation to check my e-mail or blog comments.
Second, I will designate times, in my daily rhythm, for rescreational online time. It will actually be a sizable amount of time, because I want to put my best into my blog posts and my e-mails to friends. The difference is, it will be intentional, in its place. I won’t be sneaking in online time when I should be doing something else. It won’t be spread out through the day. And it will be spent doing meaningful activities.
Here is my plan:
- The majority of the blogs that I follow, I have subscribed to. I will subscribe to comments as well, so that I don’t find myself going back and checking everyday. The few that don’t allow subscriptions (hint: You know who you are–add a subscription option!), I will check once a week.
- Recreational online time will be limited to mornings, after my morning routine and yoga, and evenings from 7-9. I will answer e-mails, read and write blog comments, and write posts.
- I can use a little more time on weekends, to get ahead of writing posts and get caught up on e-mail.
I think that’s a solid, realistic plan. And, of course, it’s not set in stone. So I will keep you posted, and tweak it as necessary.
Note: It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway–rhythm is not routine. This is not carved in stone. If a friend is going through a rough time, of course I’ll do what I need to to support them. Basically, if it’s something that I would answer the phone for during dinnertime, then it is a priority and could possibly get more than my “allotted” time. Being a decent human being is still being a decent human being…
So what about you?
All right, now it’s your turn. What are you going to do to be more intentional with your online time? Have you managed to keep your virtual interactions from interfering with your real-world life? If not, what can YOU do?