The internet is an powerful tool, allowing us access to information on virtually anything, at any point in time we feel we need this information. We have gone from dial-up to high-speed to having the internet on our smartphones.
My first introduction to social media was MySpace, and it was so interesting to read people’s pages, to see what they had written or look at their pictures. Not long after my daughter was born, Facebook became open for public use, not just for those in University or College, and I soon signed myself up for an account.
I recently looked back at my Facebook history and noticed that at first I was only updating my status every few days. Now, I update a few times a day, and also update Twitter, check my e-mail, subscribe to hundreds of blogs, post to Tumblr, write my own blogs, etc. Every day!
Perhaps you are not as consumed by social media as I am, but with all these applications offering something appealing, it is easy for me to get carried away online. The internet is a powerful tool, but it can also be over-powering.
Have you ever been in a moment with your children and thought to yourself, “This is so awesome! I have to share it!” So you snap a picture, go onto Facebook, upload the picture, type in a caption — and by the time you are done, that moment is gone. I find that sometimes, I am so interested in documenting and sharing the moment that I miss the actual moment itself!
Sometimes I also notice that when I forget my phone (I pretty much do all my web-surfing on my phone now, the computer just seems too inconvenient for most of the surfing I do!) upstairs on my nightstand, I have a more calm, peaceful morning. I accomplish more. I remain in the moment with my children. I am less stressed. It seems that the moment I think to myself, “I haven’t checked Facebook today” or “I wonder how many comments that picture got” my heart starts to race, and I feel almost panicky, needing the information now. I am unable to wait for a better time.
By no means do I plan to completely quit using social media, as I love how it allows me to keep in touch with friends and family, and also to reach out to other women. Social media is a part of my job as a photographer and a part of my ministry both here at Inspired Mama but also through staying connected to the teenagers in our youth group (my husband is a Youth Minister). So while I do plan to stay connected, there is definitely something to be said for limiting the time that we spend online.
How to Manage Your Online Time
1. Think about what you are accomplishing by spending time online. What is your purpose for being online? Is being online a part of your job or are you mostly spending time online for personal reasons? Are you needing to write e-mails, blogs, or are you usually just checking Facebook and maybe sending a couple of e-mails?
2. How much time am I currently spending online? For me, I am logging on for a few minutes here and there, but spending even 10 minutes online for every hour I’m awake would be two hours and 30 minutes a day! I’m sure there must be other ways that I could better spend my time!
3. Prioritize. Follow only the blogs that truly inspire you or that you truly care about (hopefully Inspired Mama is one of them!). Maybe you have to sort through your friends list or arrange your Facebook news feed so that only the people you really want to get updates from appear in your feed. Un-follow people on twitter who’s tweets you always scroll past anyway, or those who just aren’t really that important and worth your time that would be otherwise spent in real moments with your loved ones.
2. When is the best time for you to spend time online? For me, I think the best time would be during nap time and when Eva is having some quiet time. Or, after the kids have gone to bed. When I am using the internet during a quiet period of the day, I am able to focus more and be more productive online. When I constantly check my phone for updates and e-mails, I read them but don’t respond.
3. Choose! So, since I use the internet both for work and for pleasure (as most people these days probably do!), there are going to be some times that I need to use the internet for a longer period of time. But lately, it is mostly for pleasure and it is stealing moments from my life as I feel the internal pressure to stay up-to-date. So for the next week, I am going to try and keep my internet usage at 1.5 hours a day.
Would you like to take the challenge with me?
Here is what I’m going to do, but you feel free to adapt your usage to an amount that best suits your needs:
For the next week, I am committing to using the internet for 1.5 hours a day during quiet times of the day when my children are sleeping or busy. After the week, I will reflect on how my week went and assess what action needs to be taken.
This means, I am not google-ing every little question that comes into my mind (How old is Prince William, I need to know NOW!). I am not checking Facebook every 5 minutes to see who has commented on what. I am reading and responding to e-mails efficiently, not skipping and forgetting about them because I don’t really have the time at that moment to read all of them.
This also means, I am more attentive to my family. I am in the moment. I am less stressed.
Doesn’t that sound good?