Internet Diet Results: Week 1

Last week I talked about my desire to cut back on my use of the internet in the hopes that I could gain more willpower to make other positive changes, as well to find more balance in my life. I decided to start by simply logging my internet use in an attempt to understand exactly how much time I was spending and how I was spending it. For Monday through Saturday I wrote down all the times I spent on the internet and what I was doing during that time. I don't have a smartphone, partly because I didn't want to always feel tethered to the internet and the opportunity to constantly check my email and Facebook. However, after logging the amount of time I spent, I've realized that between the fact that I'm on a computer all day at work and the placement of my laptop in my bedroom, it doesn't really matter that I don't have a smartphone. I think that, like most things, the internet is just a tool and can have many uses, both negative and positive. At this point in my life I cannot just give up all computer use or go offline completely. It's not going to happen. I do all of my banking and bill paying online. I get my news and weather reports that way. I communicate with a lot of people through email, including for my church calling and in my position as an assistant blog editor. I feel that the Facebook is a valuable tool for me in maintaining relationships with friends and family. But, like any tool, the internet can be misused and I think I am developing some unhealthy patterns. Here's my diary for the week, and then I'm going to describe some things I noticed:


Monday June 17th
7:00-7:20 Checking email, reading news & weather report, reading blogs, Facebook
9:20-9:25 Checking email and news; reading news story
11:00-11:10 Checking email; reading news stories and article on Slate
1:20-1:30 Checking email, reading articles on Slate
3:30-3:32 Email check
5:20-5:25 Email check and news
7:30-8:15 Facebook and reading blogs
9:30-12:15   Facebook chat, responding to Segullah, emails (multitasking with laundry, going to bed, etc), random articles (slate, salon, buzzfeed)


Tuesday June 18th
7:05-7:30 Email, weather & news, reading blogs, Facebook
9:00-9:03 Email check, weather & news
11:00-11:02 Email check
1:20-1:25 Email and news check
3:25-3:35 Email and reading articles on Slate
6:15-6:30 Email, Facebook, and blogs
8:30-8:36 Email, Facebook, blogs, news, looking up a recipe
10:45-11:35 Facebook, blog comments


Wednesday June 19th
7:10-7:30 Email, news, Facebook, writing emails
8:30-8:50 Email, posting for Segullah on Facebook, reading old posts on Segullah
10:40-11:00 Email, reading articles on Slate
1:10-1:15 Email, news
2:20-2:30 Email, updating Google calendar, news
4:30-4:35 Email, checking news
6:00-6:30 Chatting on Facebook
9:00-11:30   Chatting on Facebook and playing Words with Friends; reading Hotmail, blogs, and scheduling Segullah posts


Thursday June 20th
7:15-7:25 Email, news, Facebook
8:30-8:45 Email, Facebook (sending a message), reading Slate
10:30-10:35 Email check
12:20-12:30 Email and Facebook
2:45-2:55 Email, weather, news, Facebook
4:50-5:00 Email, news
6:40-6:45 Checking email, reading blogs, and looking for book club address
10:00-10:40 Email, reading blogs, Facebook, weather, news, checking credit card statement to balance budget, Slate & Buzzfeed


Friday June 21st
7:15-7:30 Email, news, blogs, Facebook
8:40-8:50 Email, news, updating Facebook
11:45-12:05 Email, news, Slate articles, checking Facebook
2:30-2:40 Email, news


Saturday June 22nd
11:15-11:45 Email, news, reading blog posts, Facebook
1:30-2:00 Email, chatting on Facebook
6:00-6:30 Email, news, blog posts, chatting on Facebook
9:15-11:45 Facebook chat & Words with Friends, articles on Slate, the Atlantic, Buzzfeed

In the morning I usually wake up at about 6:30 and immediately shower. Then, as I noticed with the diary, I "quickly" hop on the computer to check my email. Usually that turns into reading blog posts, reading the news, and checking on Facebook. According to my records, I'm spending about 15-20 minutes each morning doing this--I didn't take that time when the kids were in school because I needed to be getting them up and ready for the day. I often feel like I don't have time for scriptures and exercising, but it looks like I've got 20 minutes in the morning to check on the internet, so I might want to reconsider my use of that time...

Next I noticed that I actually check my personal email and news quite a bit while I am at work. I really don't know what the policy is on personal internet use at work; I'm a full-time employee so I assume that they are just expecting me to be a mature adult and not waste my work time. I thought I was quickly checking on things, but it looks like I am spending too much time throughout the day. I realized that, without consciously trying to, I've been checking my personal email about once every two hours. After a few days of tracking it, I also realized that I tend to want to check my personal email when I come back to my desk after being away for a while. It's become a semi-conscious habit--probably a good one to break. I do sometimes get important things through my personal email and I don't want to go all day without checking it, but I can cut back on my habit of checking it so much. Another thing I noticed at work was that when I'm faced with a hard task or a lot of tasks that I need to choose from, my first impulse is to distract myself by hopping on the internet. This realization is a great starting point for more mindful, self-controlled internet use and for better productivity at work.

And finally, the rest of the night. For a while I had set a goal of staying off the computer between the time I got home from work and the time that the kids went to bed. I've slipped out of that habit and now tend to sit down and get online during slightly slow times, like while dinner is cooking. The kids are good at entertaining themselves and often when I get home they are happily doing stuff on their own, but I think I should be more present during that time that they are with me and we are actually all at home together. Or I could use some of that time for doing little tasks around the house that need to get done. Then, after I get the kids in bed I generally get online to relax. I usually think that this will be a quick check of things like email and Facebook, but I often end up reading a bunch of articles on other websites and/or starting a chat conversation with a friend on Facebook. Sometimes if I'm chatting or playing Words with Friends I will be multitasking at the same time while cleaning the house, folding laundry, or cooking. I also used to spend a lot of time reading articles on the LA Times and The New York Times, but when they started limiting free access I switched a lot of my reading to sites like Slate, Salon, and The Atlantic. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing; it would probably be good to just remind myself that I can't possibly read everything on the internet and I should spend more time on other things. And as the night goes on and I get more tired, I tend to start really wasting time on completely mindless stuff like Buzzfeed (25 incredible pictures of cats!) 

On Friday night I went to a ward camp-out, so I didn't log any internet time from that afternoon through the following morning. And when I came back and hopped back on, I found that I hadn't missed that much. I can live without checking up on everybody and everything all the time. I used to live without it and I still can. This next week I am going to keep a diary again, but this time I will set some goals. My first goal will be to reduce the amount of time I spend on personal internet business while I am at work. The second goal will be to stay off the internet until the kids are in bed at night. We'll see how well at do at both those when I report back next Sunday. 

Comments

SeƱora H-B said…
I admire you for doing this! I need to cut back on my internet use, especially now that I have a smart phone. I spend an outrageous amount of time online - I'm almost afraid to see how much.

I can't wait to read how things go for you this week!
Earth Sign Mama said…
What do you mean "I can't read everything on the internet"??? I can't? But, but...it has words and words must be read. Sigh. (See, it is a genetic problem.)

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