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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

5 Ways to Keep the Internet from Controlling Your Life

The internet is a great blessing.  I love it.  But ever feel like the internet is controlling your life?  Ever feel like you started to get something done, then somehow wound up on Youtube watching Denver the Guilty Dog?  Did you just click and watch Denver the Guilty Dog? 🙂

You’re not alone:

  1. According to Nielsen, US adults spent an average of more than 30 hours a month on their phones in 2013.

  2. The average Facebook user spends 46 minutes per day on the site.

  3. It would take you 2 weeks (24 hours a day!) to watch all the video uploaded to Youtube — IN THE LAST 60 SECONDS.

I think we can all agree: The internet can be a monster that eats up your time.

Here’s how to tame the monster:

1. Know your biggest digital time-wasters.

Do you know where you waste time?  What sites suck up your margin?  What “escapes” are turning your life into a deadline rush instead of an intentional march?  (Hope it isn’t this blog… 🙂 )

For me, that’s a no-brainer.  Here are mine over the past 24 months, in approximate order: * Internet news (Drudge, HotAir) * Social Media (Facebook, Twitter) * Youtube (have you seen my channel? 🙂 )

So I did an experiment.  I blocked some sites, & completely swore off political news for 3 months.  Here’s what I discovered: cutting it out did absolutely nothing negative to my life.  There was not one negative result in those three months, from not knowing what was going on in politics.  I still knew what I believed.  I still could defend my political philosophy if needed.  I just had 30-45 minutes more time daily than I had before!

Once you’ve identified where you’re using your time most unwisely, you need to:

2. Use a tool that prevents time wasters from controlling your life. 

It’s crazy, but my fingers do the “Ctrl+T” to open a new Chrome tab and type “dr” (for Drudge Report) or “f” for Facebook literally automatically.  Usually this happens when I hit a snag in my work (preparing sermons, or administrative work).

It blows my mind to realize that I can waste valuable time with no conscious choice whatsoever.

You know how it goes… you get to FB, and you see a notification, *clickclickclick* and 45 minutes later, you’re watching a “dumb women drivers” video on the timeline of some dude you haven’t seen since high school.  But I can’t totally block Facebook.  It’s too tied to my job & church.

So what to do?  Here are my favorite tools:

StayFocusd – this great Chrome extension is a fantastic way to not only identify your time wasters, but strategically limit your time on those sites.  It’s extremely customizable, and includes a “nuclear option” that will block all websites for a pre-determined amount of time with one button.  It’s my new favorite thing.  (I have 20 minutes in aggregate for Facebook & Youtube.)  This keeps me moving forward and focused while on Facebook.

If you’re a Mac user, you can also check out Anti-Social.  (Available for Mac & PC.)

3. Capture your mornings.

I’ve written about using tools to do a morning routine. Mornings are so important — and so fragile. The margin you need to really live out your values can get sucked up by emails & social media.  There’s a reason why Julie Morgenstern called her book on time management “Never Check Email in the Morning.

That’s why you need to capture that time with a routine that reflects the things that are truly important to you.  For a long time, I had an item on my morning routine checklist that said, “Do not turn on the Laptop (0 Minutes).”  I still don’t touch it until after I’ve accomplished what matters most.

Mornings must be on purpose.

4. Increase your mindfulness about your time on your phone.

Apps like Moment (for iPhone) and BreakFree (for Android) or Checky (for iPhone & Android) will tell you things like how often you unlock your phone, or how much time the screen is on.

Just being mindful of this sort of thing can be a game-changer!

5. Use a tool that blocks porn.

I must address a huge time-drain that doesn’t get nearly as much press as social media… it’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

Is porn draining your productivity?

Pornography composes 12% of ALL websites on the internet.  Porn terms are the most searched terms on the internet.  Porn’s annual cash flow is bigger than the NBA, the NHL, the NFL and MLB — COMBINED. Statistically, baseball is not America’s favorite pastime.  Porn is.  And it’s not just at home.  2 out of every 3 visits to a porn site occurs during working hours.

Statistically, baseball is not America’s favorite pastime.  Porn is.

Someday, I will write about my battle with pornography, and the freedom I’ve found in Jesus Christ.  But for now, let me just tell you some of the tools that are helping me.

PHONE:  On my Android phone, I use X3 Watch’s accountability app.  If you need something more robust, Covenant Eyes also has a mobile filtering app and a desktop version.

HOME NETWORK: OpenDNS is a great free tool (with a paid version) that has the ability to filter every device that connects to your router. (Including your children’s devices!)  You can set a filtering level, and create a custom block/allow lists, view reports of attempted sites, and more.

LAPTOP: K9 Web Protection has a free version that is quite good.  Their paid version is even more robust.  For several years, I used BSecure as well.

No filter is perfect.  But if you have a problem here, it’s worth it to sign up, install a blocker of some sort, then give the password to disable the filter to someone else.

A pain?  Sure.  Worth it?  Yep.

Exit Question: What about you?  What are your greatest time-wasters?  Discuss in the comments below or on my Facebook page.  Just understand, I only have 20 minutes to get my response written. 🙂

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