What’s your time online costing you?

Last week, I set a little challenge in the private SOS Facebook group, asking the ladies to consider what they could go without in order to make more time and room for the things that would make them truly happy.

For a couple of us, technology came up, big time.

Managing technology and time online is one of the biggest issues we need to tackle for our health and happiness these days. It’s prevalence in our lives has snuck up on us, and whitewashed our time like a tsunami, without our realising it.

It’s a whole new paradigm of life that our mothers didn’t have to deal with, and that had no impact on us as children. Times have changed. This report found people were online as much as 23 hours a week – a whole day a week spent on (mostly) email and Facebook. This article in the Daily Mail which quotes research this month from the UK that found adults now spend more time online than they do sleeping – more than eight-hours a day.

This Nielsen report also from last year, found more than 60 per cent of mobile phone owners in the US had a Smartphone now, up from just 20 percent three years before, and that women were the biggest users of Smartphones.

Another Nielsen report on online usage in Australia in February this year found Australians are spending 37 hours a month online – a whole working week every month – browsing web content.

You don’t need surveys to know you’re spending a lot of time online or connected to a device of some sort each day, several times a day.

“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” ~ Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

While this technology and online connection has added much richness and amazing opportunities to our lives, it has come at a cost.

Logging in and checking in to multiple social media sites, cruising online at all hours and scanning multiple email accounts have now all become a regular part of our day, but they affect us in multiple ways: they suck up much or our time, they affect our stress levels via an overloaded mind that is constantly bombarded with information, and they can add to the comparison-itis that is in plague proportions.

It can also cause a deep disconnection with what is truly happening around us.

How ironic, that the more connected we are, the more disconnected we are. All this technology and information, all this ability and we’re so stuck in the online world that we’ve left the physical one.

I recently went through a process of checking myself.

There was the iPause where I was checking FB, email, messages on the phone where once I would have chatted to people around me, or spent time looking at what was happening around me. It had become a time filler but what started as a quick check, sometimes spread to a lost half-an-hour.

There was the need to take my phone with me everywhere, at all times, where once I would have walked hands-free, biked with nothing more than a helmet, or put a wallet in my pocket and not a phone.

There was the realisation that I’d rather lose my wallet than my phone because it has become more valuable to me than the cards that identify me and the cash that supports my life.

There was the habit of checking-in at the computer before the drive to school, after the drive to school and again in the afternoon when homework is done, all work-related but yet it I was ashamed to realise my children were looking for me in the office, not by their side.

There was also the time at the computer at night, instead of on the couch with my husband; or worse, on the couch but on the iPad. A new habit. A bad habit.

I had realised for some time that all this connection was distracting, and affecting my ability to concentrate. The drip feed and flood of information is jarring. It causes an attention deficit. It stimulates comparison and self-condemnation. It’s an all-night marathon on repeat.

Social media is great, but it’s become all invasive. I’m not against it – I enjoy it, get some good laughs and information from it, and it’s a vital part of my business – but it needs to be managed and kept in-hand. It’s potential to spiral out of control unnoticed is extreme. Especially for women, who just love to connect, share and discuss.

Tips for containing time online

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  • Don’t keep electronic devices in your bedroom. So many ladies tell me the first thing they do in the morning before they even get out of bed is pick up their phone to check Facebook or emails! Or it’s the last thing they do before turning out the light. Artificial light from devices at night will disrupt your sleep and keep your mind active when you really need it to be switching off.
  • Set aside tech-free days, like Wifi-free weekends.
  • Choose certain times of the day to browse social media. Set a time limit and stick to it.
  • Leave the phone at home sometimes.
  • Write a list of all the things you wish you had more time for – and then choose one of them instead when you head for the computer or phone. [/unordered_list]

Every client who has disconnected or set boundaries around their time online has found it completely liberating. They achieved more with their time, they felt they were in a better mood, and not one of them missed the online connection.

How do you manage your online time, or has it overtaken your days a little too much? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.




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