We all have a favourite digital haunt we drift to almost automatically once we’re online. It could be making your way to your favourite Facebook group, double-tapping through your curated Instagram feed, catching up with the latest news on Twitter… and the list goes on.
While these platforms are useful, they’re frankly time-suckers when you’re not using them for a purpose. Not to mention, they can also be the biggest distraction when you’re trying hard to study so you don’t fail your exams. So it’s best to banish mindless scrolling and stop wasting time online. Here’s how you can do just that by taking control of the way you spend your digital time.
#1. Identify your most-visited sites / apps
The first step to being mindful of your time is to determine which sites and apps you use most. This means listing down social media, shopping platforms, games and many more; remember, you have to be honest about your internet usage.
Even if you have a lot of sites and apps to list out, try and remember as many as you can. This unmasking of your habits is, unfortunately, the essential key to stop wasting time online.
#2. Block those distracting suspects
Now it’s time to cleanse yourself of the sites and apps you can live without. For desktop users eager for a distraction-free study session, Cold Turkey and StayFocusd will prove useful. The former lets you customise your list of blacklisted websites, while the latter gives you the freedom to enter the maximum amount of time you’d like to spend on specific websites before blocking them.
To block apps for a certain period of time on your smartphone, download Forest. Whenever you set a time to focus on a task at hand, a cute virtual tree will grow during that time. Exiting the app to visit another app will kill the tree, so you’ll definitely be motivated to keep focused if you want your tree to stay alive.
#3. Eliminate notifications
So you’ve blocked those time-suckers and set specific focus periods; good job! However, some sneaky apps can slip through the cracks and still bombard you with pesky notifications. Take control of those apps and dive into their settings to disable or turn off notifications.
If going through a long list of apps sounds draining, simply put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and set it so you’ll still receive important calls or texts from people on your priority list. Remember, the key is to make this process work for you so you’ll have time to do more important things.
#4. Fork out money when you break the rules
Holding yourself accountable for a few days is a breeze to do, but your willpower might be a little less strong after some time. To combat this, get a friend to help you in your mission to stop wasting time online. It could be something fun like making it a point to text your friend an apologetic GIF every time you waste time online.
Or, go drastic by actually paying your friend a small amount of money when you break your set rules. Transferring 50 sen per blacklisted app may seem funny at first, but you’ll change your tune after you realise you’re transferring more and more cash, thus showing your non-progress in your mission.
#5. Plan your online time
If you feel a little foolish about actually planning your online time, think about those wasted hours you’ve spent mindlessly scrolling through websites and apps. You could have used that precious time to study, work on your assignment that’s due in a few days or even learn a new skill.
Arrange your online time in blocks of hours or by the natural segments in a day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). We suggest checking social media in the evening after you’re done with your day, and even then, to limit each social media platform. Give yourself 15-30 minutes on Facebook, then another 15 minutes on Instagram and Twitter. Will the world collapse if you don’t religiously check in? We doubt it.
#6. Take the Repeat Test
Ask yourself: Would you repeat whatever you were doing today on the next day? If you reply in the negative after realising your day was spent mindlessly scrolling Instagram and chortling over funny tweets you’ll forget in a second, the Repeat Test is for you.
Simply take a piece of paper or draw up a table on Excel and write a column of numbers representing the hours in your day. You can start from the time you wake up or the time you begin studying. For every hour that passes, stop the activity you’re doing for a moment and think about how you feel about how you’ve spent your hour and briefly note down your thoughts about it.
Do you regret going down the Wikipedia rabbit hole for a full 60 minutes instead of studying for your upcoming test? Now that you have a way to recognise patterns of undesirable time-wasters, you’ll be more motivated to stop yourself from repeating the pattern.
#7. Reward yourself!
At the end of the day, you’ll need a pick-me-up after limiting yourself from your usual online sites. Reward yourself with a treat such as a chocolate bar, an excellent dinner at a good restaurant, or a full hour of your favourite game. It’s good to reduce the time you waste online, but you need to have fun too!
After mastering these tips, you’ll soon accomplish the ultimate goal of not wasting your precious time on mindless scrolling on the internet. We’re rooting for you, so go forth and spend your time on more rewarding, fruitful activities!