Monday, January 25, 2010

Curbing Computer Cravings

What is your biggest time waster?

For many, like myself, the answer would have something to do with the computer, and more specifically, the internet. The amount of information accessible at your fingertips is endless. There's always new things to read, new ways to connect, new things to learn. While these opportunities aren't bad, they can easily be abused.

Too often, I sit down at the computer when I'm tired and just want something somewhat brainless to do. Too often, the hours fly by while I jump from one blog to another, reading some very worthwhile articles, and some ramblings that just didn't need to be read. Too often, I turn to the computer to stay up-to-date with family and friends instead of taking the time to interact in more meaningful ways. Too often, late nights on the computer result in mornings of regret.

One of my goals for 2010 is to curb these bad computer habits. Though I've already failed a few times, the following guidelines help keep me on track. There is so much to life beyond what you experience in front of a screen!

Not on too early
The first part of the day is, for me, the most productive in terms of studying and getting needed things done. If I turn the computer on first thing, even just to quickly check my email, it's too easy to get caught up in answering emails, reading the latest blogs, checking favorite sites - and before I know it, an hour or two has passed. Getting a late start in the morning usually brings the productivity of my whole day down.

So, my guideline is to not turn the computer on until I've completed most of my studying for that day. It doesn't happen every day - sometimes I have no choice but to get on for teaching-related things - but as a whole, it keeps me focused and diligent. Sometimes I really want to see if an important email has been answered or a post responded to, but delaying that gratification helps me stay disciplined as I work, and provides motivation to complete my work.

And somehow, when I get on the computer later in the day, things don't seem to take as long, and I'm less likely to waste time.

Off by 10 PM
Setting this rule has been one of the best things for this new year. My eyes often hurt after hours staring at a screen, and it's even worse if that time is spent at night. Plus, I noticed that, while some good things got done when I was on late (such as blogging and working on production details), most of the time spent on the computer late at night wasn't very profitable. I had a higher tendency to feel lonely and try to quench that by browsing blogs or Facebook, wasting time as I checked yet again for new things.

My sleep also suffered. I'm usually pretty good about getting up at the same time each morning (though this, too, has been harder to get back into after the weird schedule of the holidays), so when I go to bed late, it means that I loose needed sleep. Lost sleep attributes to lethargy, headaches, and decreased productivity the next day.

While turning the computer off by 10 PM doesn't necessarily mean that I turn the light off by then, it does make me more likely to go to bed at a decent hour. It's also motivation to me, if I get on the computer before bed to check something, to get it done quickly and not waste time. Again, this rule can be broken if there are urgent things to attend to. But most things, I've learned, won't hurt if they wait until the next day.

It's amazing what a relief it is when the computer goes off each night. The computer, to me, often signifies work, so when its noise ceases, I feel much more relaxed.

None on Sunday
Another guideline I've been following for quite a few months is to not even turn my computer on on Sundays. Again, I found that most of the time I spent on the computer on Sunday afternoons was not well spent. Plus, I just needed a break, a day to disconnect from the virtual world.

Though as Christians, we don't have to observe Sabbath laws, God was truly wise to set aside one day in every seven as a day of rest. When you work the whole week through, you enter the next week feeling tired instead of refreshed. Since instituting the "no computer on Sunday" policy, I have entered each new week relaxed and ready to face all that it brought, instead of in a frenzy and feeling stressed. After church in the morning, not having the distraction of the computer gives me great time to spend with family, play games, read, write, choreograph, sew, watch a movie, or be with friends all afternoon/evening. Sundays have become one of my favorite days!

Each one is different
Not everyone needs to follow the guidelines I have, for each one of you leads different lives and has different needs. For some, the computer may provide little or no temptation to waste time. For others, you're entire job revolves around the computer, so you naturally need to use it more than I. But for me, the above goals have helped me use my time more wisely this year. I pray that I will have the self-control to follow them the whole year through, and in doing so, not have so much of a tendency to waste time online.

The computer isn't bad - I enjoy the many opportunities it provides. But more often these days, I just get tired of technology. In setting these goals, I hope to glorify God better with my time this year, using the computer in ways that help with that, but also knowing when to take a break.

What about you? Do you struggle with wasting time online? How do you curb your computer cravings?


~Sister in Christ~ said...

Anna, you post was convicting in a way for me. I had just gotten on the computer for the very purpose you described, to go "braindead". I can never believe that I can easily sit at the computer or read a book for a couple of hours. However, to sit at the throne of Christ and pray for even one hour is diffficult!Yet that is so much more fufilling! Thank you for you encouragement. ♥

PoetLady said...

I'm back on Facebook but I had deactivated my account and didn't check it at all for about 3 weeks.

Among other reasons, I had realized, "I HAD to check it" it was almost uncontrollable. I checked too often, with high speed internet, it can "just take minute" (but often doesn't as I keep clicking.)

I guess I missed certain parts of it but not having it was almost relief for awhile.

Anna's sister,

Laura Spilde said...

Here I am getting brain deadened ;) So true there is a lot of useful information on the internet, however, its not the same as reading a good book. During pregnancy I find myself up at strange hours in the night and what do I stuff on the internet. I even read the bible on the internet from time to time. Its not the same as reading right off the page however.

Good idea to give yourself time limits. If a person ever gets "tempted" to use the internet when off of the time limit, simply writing down the question and waiting until tomorrow can help considerably.

However, I have had internet "emergencies." When my little one was sick, I needed some resources to check up on how to help my son deal with his illness. It was nice to look up some remedies and such.

Mackenzie said...

These are exactly the ones I set for myself a few months ago. Lately, I haven't been able to keep them. Thank you for the reminder, and good luck girl!

aemi said...

What did you mean when you said Christians don't have to observe Sabbath laws? I'm not trying to be hostile, I just want to know. <><

Ali said...

Anna, isn't it amazing how time consuming the internet can be! I'm not on the internet 24/7, but I do ask my parents quite a bit.

Yeah I'm curious too, what did you mean Christians don't have to obey Sabbath laws?

Thanks for the encouragement Anna, God bless you!

Kaomi said...

Often times I have gotten hooked on the internet, and I have to check everything all the time. I have recently started limiting my time and it is so good to be living again! :) It is encouraging to know that I am not alone in this. Thanks!

Ben, In All Purity said...

You are right on with everything you said. The thing that makes the computer even harder is how justifiable it is. Most of the time I am doing something that I don't label as killing time, so I can justify it. Because of this, I don't kick myself for doing it until the end of the day when I realize that that I didn't get as much worthwhile stuff done as I should.
I like the 10:00 rule. I read that the TV and the computer simulate the light given off by the sun and that after watching them your eyes won't readjust (and go to sleep) for about thirty minutes.
Thanks again for the reminder.

Anna Naomi said...

Thanks for all the comments! It's fun to hear the thoughts of others. As many of you mentioned, it is amazing how easy it is to just sit down at the computer and browse instead of sitting down with a book. Though, I don't neglect those too much! ;)

Glad to know this was an encouragement to others. You're comments are an encouragement to me, to know there are others out there. :)

Aemi and Ali: I know there are different views on the "Sabbath" among Christians. However, I believe that the Sabbath laws (the day of which is our Saturday) were a command God gave to the Old Testament Jewish people, and that we aren't required to keep them today. A good test to understand what Old Testament commands apply specifically to Christians is to see if the command is repeated/reinforced in the New Testament. Now, the Old Testament is still very profitable to study, and we can learn a lot from the laws God gave. However, God has set us free from the old covenant laws, and we are under the new covenant, which doesn't rely on rituals, but rather a living, intimate relationship. If you want more information (I couldn't summarize it all in one comment!), this article I ran across covers different Sabbath questions well: All of that said, I still think it wise to set aside one day out of the week, often Sunday, as more of a day of rest!

Ben: That is a good point - that things done on the computer do seem more justifiable. And there are a lot of things that are worthwhile and are great to do on the computer - writing is one of them. =) But, everything in moderation... Though the balance can be hard to find at times.

aemi said...

We agree on so many things that I do not want to argue about this one point, espesially since you are doing some resting on Sunday. But I do not agree with the article; I believe that the Ten Commandments should never be separated.
Don't worry, I like you just as much as before and I will keep reading your blog. <><

Jessica Faith said...

great post guys... i too struggle with that sometimes!!! the only problem is that our schooling is done online so i do not have the option of leaving the computer off so i'm almost done.. however i have set guidelines that i am trying to follow... :)
thanks!! and God Bless!
BTW i found your blog when i googled 'hope chest ideas'. i am trying to start a hope chest soon and wondered what to do (besides the normal bedding, pillowcases, etc. :D) your post on that was very encouraging!
thanks again!

Jessica Faith said...

and, i do disagree on your comment about the sabbath - both on the post and the comment you left later - God specifically created SEVEN days in the week. He says that we should work on the 6 days and rest on Sunday, a day of worship to HIM, the one who made us. saying otherwise is defaming His holy name.
I still appreciate your blog but I disagree quite strongly on this... I invite you to study it thoroughly. a good place to start would be the KJV and John Calvin's books.
If you choose not to publish this comment, I understand completely, but please do think about it regardless.
God Bless and prayers,
Jessica Faith
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

Maria said...

My least favorite school days are usually the days when I have to spend close to eight hours at my laptop.

Katie said...

I am going to start using the Sunday rule. Usually when I go on Facebook to "quick" check something I end up being on there for an hour. Then at the end of the day I wonder where my day went! I love your blog and I am soo glad I found it. I was looking for what to put in a hope chest and that was one of the first results. I love the idea and I hope I can get one soon! Thanks for all the great ideas!