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5 Ways to Stop Wasting Time Online

5 Ways to Stop Wasting Time Online

Do you sometimes find yourself online placing bets with total strangers in article comment sections about whether or not Kimye will name their next baby South West when you should be working to make your next deadline? Don’t feel bad; it’s a problem many of us face. There are websites and discussion threads completely dedicated to cat videos, and Ivy League institution. The University of Pennsylvania even has a class called “Wasting Time on the Internet.”

If you’re one of those people who just can’t seem to quit tweeting, liking, or Googling, here are five tips on how to stop wasting time and get shiz done.

1. Log Off Social Media – Yes, All of It

Humans are hard-wired to seek out social connections. We crave attention and a feeling of being close to one another that we often satisfy through the use of social media. It doesn’t even have to come from our own friends. You probably check out George Takei’s Facebook page more than you do most of the people you went to college with.

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One way you might’ve heard suggested on how to stop wasting time on social media is to shut it off. Before beginning work or sitting down to study, log out of your social media accounts, delete them from your phone, or block them through your browser settings to reduce the amount of time you can procrastinate.

2. The Repeat Test

In order to see just how much time we’re wasting sometimes we need to write it down. The Repeat Test is a great tool to help you keep track of your daily habits and activities and how doing them made you feel.

Start by drawing a table representing each hour of your day. At the beginning of every hour, take a minute or two to write down exactly how you spent the last 60 minutes, along with a short note of how each task made you feel. At the end of the day, go over the list and review which habits were productive and which need to be eliminated.

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3. There’s an App for That

Yes, there are apps to help keep you from Googling all day long for the newest iPhone product to hit the market. Apps like Facebook Nanny can help limit the time you spend on social media. Other apps like Concentrate allow you to specify which sites should be blocked and which you might need to visit, while an app like Checky can keep track of your online habits and let you know where you need to work on self control.

4. Schedule Your Internet Time

You schedule your workout times, possibly your meals, and your travel plans, so why shouldn’t you schedule your Internet time too? Instead of leaving yourself free to hop online willy-nilly throughout the day, schedule specific times when you’ll allow yourself to browse the web.

Whatever posts you see that look interesting in the morning will still be there in the evening, so it’s not necessary to click on it right away. Make note of your favorite games, social media pages, and news sites and schedule a window of time to visit them. Just make sure you stick to this schedule.

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5. Take Work Breaks

Stopping your study session or workday in order to play online could indicate you simply need a break. Research has shown regular breaks help us prevent boredom while also helping us retain information over time. In fact, studies show taking a break every 90 minutes could improve our productivity.

Set a timer for work sessions, then take a short five minute break to help maximize your potential each day. Walking, eating, and even looking at cute animal pictures can help us relax and recoup energy throughout the day, so this is the perfect opportunity to log onto Facebook for a quick Grumpy Cat fix.

Training yourself to focus and avoid playing around online is tough, so use the tools above to help you get started. Remember, it’s all about willpower. Learn how to assert yours and you may find yourself getting more done than ever before.

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Featured photo credit: raneko via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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