Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How To Tame The Internet Monster

How To Tame The Internet Monster
by Cathy Bryant, (c) 2009

One thing everyone has in common is limited time. Various activities vie for our time, and life often becomes an exercise in juggling it judiciously.

The internet is one area which can be prone to stealing or wasting time, yet it can also be a useful tool to stay connected, learn new information, and remain current.

So how can we best use our time on the internet? The answer: Goals and Boundaries.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is/are my purpose(s) in using the internet? (Entertainment, relaxation, knowledge, self-expression, connecting with friends, exploration, research, other?)
  • Why is it important to me? (Knowing your motivation can be very revealing. Take the time to answer this question.)
  • How important is it in light of my other goals, hobbies and interests? (This will help you determine the amount of time you should spend on the internet.)
  • What amount of time do I realistically have to spend on the internet? (Set a time limit and stick to it. If you don't, you will find yourself meandering through cyberspace, not even aware of what time it is. You know what I'm talking about--we've all been there and done that!)
  • Do I need to divide that time up into smaller time limits? (Example: 30 minutes to blog, 30 minutes to check/answer e-mail, 30 minutes to connect to friends/family on social media sites.)
  • Where do I draw the line? (Knowing ahead of time what to avoid will help you.)

TIPS: Here are a few ideas that have helped me in my internet time.
  • Keep an Internet To-Do List - I keep a sheet of paper beside my computer. As I think of things I want to accomplish online or sites I want to visit, I jot them on this list. After I complete my internet goals, if I still have time left I will complete one or several of the items on this list and mark it off. If you're super-efficient, you can come up with a way to prioritize this list with special coding.
  • E-mail Filtering - This may seem obvious, but it took me a long time of internet usage before I finally was forced to organize my e-mail. I set my spam filter at the highest level. When I log on, the first thing I do is check my spam, to see if anything important inadvertently landed in my spam folder. After moving these items, I delete my spam. Next I move to my inbox. I look to see how much time I have to deal with e-mail, and in my head I already know the mail that I must take care of, what I really don't want to mess with, and what I wouldn't mind taking a look at if there's time. I first of all select anything that looks like spam and move it to the spam folder, so the computer will catch it next time. Then I delete e-mails that aren't necessarily spam, but are ones I just don't have time for. Next I read all of the e-mails I deem important, dealing with them accordingly. If I have time left, I choose a few of the "maybes" and deal with them. Every few weeks, I go through my inbox and remove any leftover e-mails I originally held on to for further reference.
  • Blogging - I keep a list of possible blog topics and materials. I set aside a certain amount of time during the week to write, and I choose from my list, marking items off as I use them. Believe it or not, I try to write my posts on days when I seem to have the least amount of free time. I do this mainly because I can usually write a blog in a short amount of time. By blogging this way, I save my biggest chunks of free time for activities which take more time. I usually write blogs for a week to ten days in advance, so if I come to a particularly busy time or unexpected events, my blog is covered.
  • Social Media Sites - First of all, I set up my accounts on these sites so I get e-mail notification of any activity (messages, events, etc.). I also keep my sites listed in the side bar of my blog, so when I'm through working on WordVessel, I can pop over to a few of these sites. I try to visit them all at least every other day. That may seem like overkill, but my view is "Why have a profile on a SM site, if you're never going to show up?"
The internet monster can be tamed, but it takes a conscious effort on our part to make it happen.

A Texas gal since birth, Cathy lives in a century-old farmhouse with her husband and a phobia-ridden cat. Her debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist and tells the story of a disillusioned widow's quest to find home. The book is available through Amazon.com. For more information, visit www.CatBryant.com.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cathy & Mimi -

Excellent article! I never thought of a to-do list for the Internet. It's taken over where TV left off.

Susan :)

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