Makeover Monday: Back Away from the Computer

I’ve been spending less time online these days. That has both a downside and an upside. Down, in that I don’t get to read as many blogs as I’d like or participate in some of my writers’ discussion groups, but the upside is that I’m getting lots of other things done, some that are long overdue and others that are new explorations.

Consciously deciding to spend less time online isn’t a simple matter of Just Do It. Or Just Don’t Do It, in this case. Face it, blogging and tweeting and surfing are fun! I have no intentions of eliminating the blogging interaction. That would be like giving up cake! And probably more difficult. I love interacting in my various communities and exploring new ones. I get most of my daily news from online sources and enjoy researching the most interesting stories. And don’t get me started on how much I enjoy online window shopping. :) Still, while I enjoy all of those things immensely, I can’t put LIFE on hold while I play or procrastinate.

Okay, so getting from there to here is still a work in progress, but I’ll share what’s working so far. Just in case you might be concerned about the amount of time you spend online! :)

Tippy Toe Tools for Managing Online Time

1. Plan how much time you will spend online each day based on the items on your To-Do list that need to get done. (I use the MIT method, as described and credited in an earlier Makeover Monday post.) For example: Keeping up with email is important to me, so I allot 30 minutes each day for it in three 10-minute segments spread throughout the day. Most days, that’s enough to handle the critical items. Some days I even have time for checking out some of the fun stuff, too. :)
2. Make a separate list of the things you want to do online each day and prioritize it. As tasks are crossed off the MIT list, reward yourself with a few minutes spent on the first item on the “want” list. For me, that’s almost always reading other people’s blogs.
3. Use a stopwatch or timer to monitor the amount of time you’re spending online. I use the timer on my iPhone, which has an audible alarm when time runs out. A kitchen timer works just as well. Tip: leave the alarm across the room to avoid the shut-off-alarm-and-keep-right-on-surfing risk. I lied to myself one too many times with the “just two more minutes” promise.
4. Use physical deterrents to avoid plopping down at the computer “for just a second or two” as you pass it. (Big problem for yours truly.) If I’m working around the house, I shut the office door as a reminder that I have other things to do right then. If I’m working on the computer in Word or Excel, I shut down my Firefox connection. When I come across something that requires a quick look-up or verification, I mark it as “Look-up later” and keep right on going with the project at hand.
5. Reward yourself for your successes. Set aside a block of time for unlimited surfing and playing. Grant yourself credits for “free” iTunes downloads. Go for some TCBY peanut butter frozen yogurt. I’m sure you’ll think of something. :)

I’m super envious of those who can take care of all their to-do’s AND still have time for blogging, Tweeting, and general surfing pleasures. I tried, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s a talent I just don’t have. The good news is that I am perfectly okay that way. :)

Am I the only one with online time management problems? No? Yes? Any tips or tricks you have for managing your online time will be appreciated.

For now, my break time is over, and I’m off to test paint the bathroom vanity. I’ll be reading your blogs while I wait for the paint to dry. :)