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how to waste less time online

13 Sep 2018
Freeing up time and mental energy can improve your headspace
Got the Facebook blues? Hours on Instagram leaving you flat? Dank memes keeping you from that assignment?

The internet’s fun but let's face it: it can be pretty distracting. A lot of us spend longer online than we want to doing stuff we don’t feel is a good use of our time. This isn’t just annoying – it can also be unhelpful for our mental health.

Whether you want to spend less time browsing social media, gaming, surfing the internet or looking at porn, small changes can make a big difference to your headspace.

The key to changing habits isn’t willpower – it’s support. If you’re keen to spend more time doing stuff you love, it’s a good idea to put plans in place to make the transition easier. Check out these tips on how to get more control over your internet usage and create more space and freedom in your life.


Charge your device outside your bedroom

Find that hours of screen time are eating into your sleeping? One way to make sure you don’t spend too long looking at your phone in bed is to not look at your phone in bed at all. Try charging your phone, tablet or laptop outside of your room. If you need an alarm, you could go retro and get an analogue alarm clock – they’re easy to find and buy online or in store.

Do you have to set a bunch of alarms, or press the "snooze" six or seven times before you actually get up? You could try a standing mat alarm clock, which you need to put your bodyweight on to turn off!

Make your apps less appealing

Apps are designed to grab your attention for as long as they can. One way to use them on your own terms is to make them just a little bit trickier to access. This can give you an extra moment to think “hang on ­– do I really want to do this right now?” You could do this by:

  • changing your settings so you don’t get notifications
  • moving your app icons to a back page, so you can’t see them every time you open your phone
  • if you use a visual display, making it black and white to reduce the appeal of brightly coloured apps.


Delete your account

Don’t worry – there’s no need to go back to hand-drawn maps and sending messages by carrier pigeon. Social media can be fantastic and add a lot of value to our lives. But that doesn’t mean we need to have every kind of account there is. If a particular platform isn’t making your life better, it might be worth deleting the app from your device for a while or getting rid of your account completely.

Which social media networks support you? Which ones don’t? Draw up a list of the pros and cons of each social platform you use to help you decide whether or not to keep it. You might decide to get rid of Instagram and keep Tumblr, for instance.


Take pause

If you feel an urge to go to social media or whatever it is that distracts you, it’s helpful to give yourself a moment to reflect. Just stop, feel your body in the room, and take a breath. Is this really how you want to spend your time right now? Odds are the urge will go away quicker than you think. Meditation can help you get better at noticing your urges and making more mindful choices.

There’ll probably be times when you get distracted anyway. If you do, it’s important you don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re doing really well, and the more you practice the easier it can get.

Build up other parts of your life

When we have better focus, clarity and mood, it’s a lot easier to make conscious choices about how to use the internet. Spending time offline also gives us a chance to do other stuff too, like: