Setting a timer to minimise time online

I’ve been trying to minimise time online (to varying success). For August’s Happiness Project theme of ‘Minimalise’ I’ve set the resolution to spend just one hour of my time on the Internet each day. By my time I mean personal time, eg not work time. A lot of my work involves spending much longer than an hour each day on the Internet, but this should (in theory) be focused time where I’m using online resources for a specific purpose.

Why I’m choosing to minimise time online

In contrast to this my free-time Internet usage is often defined by an aimless meandering – less surfing and more bobbing about wherever the current takes me. This isn’t such a bad thing, and can lead to interesting areas, but the tendency to so easily become distracted by another piece of seaweed floating by in the water bugs me.

I’ve noticed my attention span worsening over the years, and I do think this is directly correlated to the rise in personal technology. I used to be an avid reader, and I still love reading but find myself easily drawn to the more passive allures of Netflix and the online world.

This isn’t to say I’m against the Internet, though. I’m definitely not; like Sara Tasker from Me & Orla (whose entire back catalogue of blogs I can read courtesy of the Internet) I find wonderful benefits from the online world, especially when it comes to socialising and networking. For introverts like us the Internet presents wonderful possibilities for being in a space full of people and at home in your comfies at the same time. But, as Kayte from Simple and Season says, the Internet (especially social media) can be an exhausting place.

In the evenings, especially if I’m a bit tired from the day, I can easily turn to my phone/iPad/sometimes even my laptop and lose hours. I emerge foggy-headed and, usually, grumpy that my evening has disappeared and I don’t feel relaxed. This is often followed by an inability to get to sleep. There is a point where I’m enjoying what I’m doing online and it’s engaging/relaxing/pleasurable. This is swiftly followed by a point where I turn into a zombie, and that’s when it becomes less fun.

Be mindful about how you spend your time online.

Spending more mindful time online

My one hour per-day resolution is to help me become more focused with my online time – to be more mindful with it. The rationale is that, because my time is limited, I will consider whether I really want to click that button as my thumb hovers over the Twitter app. I will take time to ask myself: ‘will this add value to my life right now?’

Another hope is that this resolution will help me with my slow-living development. The Internet – having the whole world at my fingertips – makes me want to do everything now, now, now. Book a holiday; research house prices in the area; pursue every single thought/idea/question that pops into my mind just because I can.

I don’t think I want to be that person. Or, at least, I want to remember what it’s like to take more time over things, remember what it’s like to not know something, and return to curiosity and my own imagination in the evenings. It’s gone varyingly so far. More than once I’ve forgotten to turn my hour’s timer off and started randomly beeping in public places, and sometimes I just forget to turn it on. What it is doing, though, is making me more aware of how I’m spending my time online and – even when I do forget to turn the timer on – my internal clock is letting me know when enough’s enough.

Do you do anything to minimise time online? What do you and how does it work for you? 

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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