Internet Training Wheels

file000275257704.jpgIn my quest to organize and simplify my home, which was–is–overfull of things we don’t need, I’ve been working to simplify other things, as well, like my schedule. All this thinking about what I need, what I don’t need–it has now drifted into a quest to deal with some of my time wasters. And I bet you can guess one of my biggest time wasters, since you likely had to tap into that today to read this post.

Yep. Like huge numbers of people around the world, I can sink into the internet and not come up for air for hours. And half the time I can’t tell you where I was or what I was doing. Whatever it was, there’s a good chance it didn’t matter, and a better chance that I could have used that time for something better.

I don’t have a phone. I mean, I have a landline, but that’s it. No smart phone. I’m a relic, I know. And yet, that doesn’t stop me from being connected way, way, WAY too much. I write on the computer, both fiction and blog, so the internet is here, at my fingertips, all the time. When I’m stuck on a sentence, I might as well swing over to Facebook and waste a minute or two until my brain clears.  While I’m writing my blog, I’m on the internet already, and it’s no problem to multitask a little bit and switch from here to email and back.

And then, suddenly, time is gone. What happened?

I should be strong enough and controlled enough to deal with this on my own, but at the moment I’m not. Funny thing is that I likely spend more wasted time on Facebook than anywhere else, and I hate it. It’s a very rare moment that I leave Facebook feeling good about anything. It’s filled with bad news and lots of blog posts meant to teach me by pointing out my failures. You know the ones. Titles like Real Christians Would Never (fill in the blank with something I’ve done.) Ten Things a Good Person Would NEVER say to a (single person, tall person, short person, poor person, person from another race), again, filled with things I’ve said. Five Parenting Fails. Yep. I’m usually guilty of one or two. And yet, I still go back to Facebook. What on earth is wrong with me?

Anyway, I need a little help. So I looked for it. And, fortunately, found it. There are many apps out there that can help those of us who spend time on our computers stay on task. Seems Google has one called Nanny. I stayed away from that one. Too much truth in that name, thanks. There are others, but the one I finally landed on is called Freedom.to. I like that. It’s all in the marketing. Freedom to do other things. Freedom to use my time wisely. Freedom to stay away from articles and blog posts that make me feel like a monster. Yes, it’s a nanny, since I can’t do this myself yet, but I can pretend it’s nobler than that.It’s a productivity tool, not a babysitter. And it’s easier on my waistline than my other time management trick–taking my computer to Culver’s restaurant across town, which has no internet but does have French fries.

So, now I’m blocking myself off a bunch of websites while I work. I don’t want to block the entire internet, because while I write I use online dictionaries, a thesaurus, baby name sites, Pandora for music, and sometimes do research for my books. I need those. So, this is the next best thing, blocking the sites where I lose time when I need to focus on other things.

Soon I hope I can take off the training wheels and manage my time alone. But until then, or if that never happens, I’m pleased to find ways to deal with my weaknesses and focus my energy. The internet can be a great tool. And it can be the ruination of a soul. I hope to be wiser about my use of it as I continue my journey toward a life where I can be all God wants, in the physical realm as well as the spiritual and emotional. And if you have a favorite way to use the internet wisely, productively, and without wasting hours of time, I’d love to hear it. I am not too proud to admit I need all the help I can get.

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