Monday, July 28, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Computer Time

In this age of so much information available at our fingertips, it can be so easy to spend much more time then necessary on the computer. However, we must be disciplined in this area, because you don't to spend so much time on the computer that you don't have time to truly live real life.

The internet is where it is the easiest to waste time. Though non-internet things take time, usually it is time spent on things that need to be done, such as editing videos, sorting pictures, writing documents, or studying for tests. However, online, one can do a million things at once, and it's all too easy to surf the web as the time flies by, wondering how the minutes could go by so quickly. Although I certainly don't have all the answers as to how to be more disciplined on the computer, I'll share some tips.

The one non-internet computer thing that takes discipline is that of computer games. I am very grateful for parents who limited our time playing computer games. Growing up, we could have only 30 minutes each day playing games, or on very special occasions, perhaps 45 minutes playing on it with someone else (but only rarely!). This helped so much in us not getting addicted to computer games (or video games, since they didn't allow them in our house). Though we didn't always like having a time limit, it was good for us to know exactly how much time we could spend, and that we had to get off after that. Looking back, I see the great wisdom in that. Now-a-days, I very very rarely play games on the computer. Once in a very long while I'll play Tetris with my sister, but I've found that there's so much other things to do then spend time playing Solitare or other such games on the computer.

The first would be choosing a good web browser. Having a computer-geek brother has been wonderfully nice, and he downloaded the Firefox web browser for me, which has worked really well. It loads web pages well, and I like all the tools and extensions it has. Tabbed browsing, scrolling between tabs, and more, it's worked great! However, having had not much experience with Internet Explorer, there could be things I'm missing as well. =)

You also want to have a good email provider. I've used Gmail for quite some time now, and it has been really nice. You can easily label and archive email, which helps keep your inbox less cluttered. If I receive email from a certain person frequently, they have their own label and archive. If it's a group or e-zine I subscribe to, I also label and archive those. That way, I can easily find the emails I need by clicking on the right label. Now, you can also color-code labels, which makes it fun!

While email can be a great way to keep in contact with people, it can also be time-consuming. I try to not do many forwards, though survey emails can be fun sometimes. I try to not subscribe to too many e-newsletters or special deals from websites - I only want to get ones that I'll actually use.

Another thing I try to stay away from is too much chatting. Instant messaging can be fun, but it can also eat up time quite quickly. Also, by trying to keep a conversation going and read/browse or write other things, the time quality spent on both will go down. I only sign in to chat periodically, when I know that I have time to talk to others, or I want to ask someone a quick question. I have enjoyed talking to friends and family using it, but have also observed that chatting tends to be more of a superficial and mindless type of conversation, so I try to write emails or letters more to stay in touch.

As you all probably know, there are so many good and interesting blogs out there that one could read! Knowing which ones to spend your time on can be challenging when there are so many out there! I've had to remind myself time and again that, much as I'd liked to, I can't read all the ones I know of. Periodically, I try go through and decide which ones I truly benefit from reading, and which ones I should just stop reading to free up some of my busy schedule. Blogs can be a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family, read about other people's lives, or be encouraged and inspired. The blogs you read will be different from the next person's list, but the important thing is that you not be overloaded.

After much resistance on my part, Elijah finally convinced me to subscribe to blogs via Google. By clicking on a blog's RSS feed and clicking "subscribe via Google", You can decide to have the blogs show up on your personalized Google homepage or be sent to your Google Reader. I have mostly used Google homepage, which allows me to see at a glance which blogs have updated recently. The tabs in the homepage have also wonderfully allowed me to keep track of different blogs. On my homepage, I have blogs listed that update frequently and I'd like to read every day, or blogs of family and close friends that I want to read as soon as they update. Right now there are 12 blogs on there, but they don't all update at the same time, so it's doesn't take that much time to keep track of them. I also have 3 other tabs, named M-T, T-F, and W-S. Each of the tabs has around 9 blogs listed in each of them, and I try to discipline myself by only clicking on the tab that corresponds to the day. That way, I can keep track of many different blogs, and by only reading them twice a week, it doesn't take up all my time checking them every single day to see if they've updated.

I've had to lay aside the drive to always read the latest post, knowing that it will still be there for me to read, even if it's a few days after it was written. I've also had to release myself from trying to keep up with all the comments. If it's a blog or post I really like and want to read the comments on, I can easily click on the post later and see if anyone else had added anything. However, not going to the blog's homepage every time keeps me from spending too much time reading all the comments. Also, I don't have time to comment on every post, though it would be nice to! I try to only comment if I have something worthwhile to add, or encouragement to give.

Of course, then there's the time that is spent on updating and doing things for my own blog. I do keep up with and read all the comments made on Maidens of Worth, as well as email and various things sent to us from various readers. There's not always time to respond to each individual person as I would like to, but I try to keep up with things as much as I can. I try to post on a regular basis, and though writing posts takes quite a while sometimes, I like to see it as a ministry of encouragement to others. It's also very encouraging to hear what others think! Also, I do try to keep up with who reads our blog, periodically clicking on the blogs of those who comment, especially if they're new. Thank you to all of you who take the time to comment!

Website forums can also take up a lot of time, as there is so much to read and respond to. I've been on quite a few forums in past years, but currently I only visit one on a regular basis: the Rebelution forums. I can't read everything there, and I rarely have time to post, but it is an encouragement to see the interactions of other rebelutionaries. I really appreciate the high standards they hold to, making each topic easy to read by requiring good grammar and spelling and making each topic thought-provoking by making sure that only good and worthwhile content is posted.

Then there's a wide variety of other websites one could be a part of. The only social networking site I'm a part of is Facebook, which I joined so that I could see pictures friend's uploaded. I don't really do much on it, for I don't want to spend all my time on it! I don't add many applications, play many games, or take many tests, though once-in-a-while it can be fun. Mainly, I enjoy using it to keep up with the lives of family and friends. I try not to check it too often, and don't update my status every hour - I'll often go a few days between changing anything or even logging on. Though there's so much to do and read, I try to keep it to the minimal.

Now, it may sound as though I have everything under control... but I don't. Far too often I give in to the tempation to do some mindless browsing, hopping from blog to blog, or spending time reading many things while procrastinating doing more worthwhile things. It's something I have to constantly and diligently guard against.

I also have to sometimes allow myself to be on the computer without guilt. I tend to think of all time spent online as somehow not that worthwhile, but I have to remind myself that it can be very useful and encouraging to others. There is so much information at your fingertips, but there are also so many lives that you can touch through the computer. It can be a worthwhile tool, or a worthless tool, depending on how you use it.

As with almost everything else, it seems that balance is the key. You have to decide what is worthwhile for you (which may or may not be what is worthwhile for others) and try to stick to doing that. Google searches can be great, and there's many great news stories online, but I try to only search for something I really need to know or need to buy, and right now, I only tend to read news stories that others link to if it sounds interesting. There is so much information in the world today, that you just need to figure out what is worthwhile to you.

Though hard, it all comes down to disciplining yourself to only spend the right amount of time online. Simplify as much as you can, and work on discipline. Accountability can help a lot, as can blocking pages (though I haven't tried that yet). Sometimes, doing things right away can make things more simple instead of putting them off - it also helps one not forget! However, sometimes you have to plan to just do certain things at certain times in order to not be overloaded.

Do you have any advice on how to be disciplined in time on the computer? Please share!

Also, answer the below questions if you'd like to:
  • How much time do you usually spend on the computer per day?
  • How many blogs do you read on a regular basis?
  • What is one thing you can do to make your computer time more disciplined?


Sammybunny said...

# How much time do you usually spend on the computer per day?

~depends on the day but probably a good five hours or so. But in justification, a TON of my college work is done on the computer (70%, I'd say) and I am a huge gamer (my boyfriend and I play online games and RPG's) and I read blogs, check email at work. :o)

# How many blogs do you read on a regular basis?

Probably about 10.

# What is one thing you can do to make your computer time more disciplined?

Well, one thing I already do is make sure that while at work (during the school year) I check blogs, and email, college email and then I get off and work on homework or do research (some of which involves the computer, sadly) and then at nighttime, if I happen to be on the computer, I always make sure I get off at least thirty minutes before I need to be in bed. :o)

Ella said...

Let's see...I try to be on the computer only about an hour a day. I am doing a famly blog record our old movies and that takes some time.

How many blogs do I read....I read about six a day. I only read regularly my good friends.

What helps me stay disciplined on the computer....well, I am not allowed to get on before school time, with a very quick checking of my e-mail. Plus, my mom and dad have to log us on to the internet anyway. And then, my brother at 5 o clock always wants to go on to watch a baseball I had better be off! =)

Pearl Henry said...

Hello. Thank you for providing me with the kick in the bottom that I needed. I waste almost half my waking hours messing around on the internet, when what I should be doing is writing my PhD thesis. I often wail about how wireless internet is ruining my life, when actually it is my poor self-discipline that is the problem. Yes, I have to spend most of my time at my desk, but that does not mean I have to read fifty blogs every day, check facebook every ten minutes and run Google searches on every topic that pops into my head. I am hereby turning over a new leaf! And turning off the modem...


Maria Pauline said...

Thanks for pointing me to igoogle, I've tried reader but it just hasn't worked for me. Firefox and Gmail are the best. Don't settle for less. :D

Computer time varies a lot. If I have a lot I have to do, I usually spend more time reading blogs. But if I have school and am busy, I may do little more than read my emails and publish comments.

I read about five blogs regularly, but I try to return all my comments, so I visit a wide variety of blogs.

I try not to get on the computer before I've done most of my school work or in the evening before bed. That way, I'm not tempted to delay my studies or stay up late.

Lily said...

I just wanted to say thank you for having this blog! It is an encouragement to me! (I like how you update it regularly! :o)

I read about eight blogs which I check about once a day.

Last month I did part of a challenge and one thing was a week of no computer. (Hey, I figured all of the people before us made it just fine without computers and so could I!) During that time I decided to not spend as much time on the computer as before and am working on that. :o)

Thank you!



Anna Naomi said...

Sammybunny: You've got some good things you do to make your time more disciplined at work!

Ella: When I did schoolwork, I often wouldn't let myself get on until I'd finished all or most of my work - it's a good motivation!

Pearl: I'm glad this post was good motivation for you! We all need reminders at one time or another!

Maria Pauline: Yes, I tried Google Reader first and didn't really like it. Google homepage has worked much better for me. I agree - Firefox and Gmail are great! =)

Lily: I've thought of having a no-computer week, but things would pile up then it'd be more work to sort through them all! I do enjoy the breaks I get when I go on vacation away from computer. It is a nice tool, but we can live without it! ;)

Miss Arya said...

Wow, your post was very convicting. That is probably one of the top of the list problems that I struggle with in daily life. Thank you for your advice and ideas.

In fact, your whole blog is really neat, inspiring, and encouraging. Keep up the great work!

God bless,
Jordan (Arya is my computer name on the blog)

Annie said...

# How much time do you usually spend on the computer per day?

I have to confess, I am not very disciplined about how much time I spend! I was shocked to realise that I spent hours on the computer, and about two hours on the internet alone. Although this can be helpful, I don't believe I have any reason to spend more than 20-30 minutes every day.

# How many blogs do you read on a regular basis?

I am quite new to blogger, so for a while I tried to follow almost every blog I knew of. Fortunately, I realised that I was spending too much time keeping up to date all of them, so I went through and deliberately cut down the list to 15 (I have decided that that is the most I can handle). Some of these blogs update infrequently, and some are photo blogs which don't require a lot of time to read. On average, I read 2-3 updates a day.

# What is one thing you can do to make your computer time more disciplined?

Set strict guidelines for myself to limit my internet usage, and only after I finish my studies.