Seeking Simplicity: Cutting Back Time Wasted Online

In this burgeoning journey toward learning simplicity, one of the first fruits is that I've started to discover the areas that sap and steal simplicity from my routine.

Would you like to know what is #1 on my list? 

Friends, it is time spent online. 

Between going through emails (and four email accounts, no less), getting rid of spam and junk emails, trolling blogs and reading posts that do absolutely nothing for me or my time invested, as well as all my job-related tasks that take place online, a significant amount of my time is spent here...but not very wisely, I've realized. (Fortunately, though, I spend very little time on Facebook as it is, and don't tweet, stumble, tumble or any of those other online time sucks.)

For instance, the other morning, I sat down at my computer around 8am. By 11am, I looked up and when asked what I accomplished, and could hardly tell you anything of worth. I learned what some lady is making for dinner tonight, what a girl with cute outfits did over the weekend, how to make some recipes that I know I'll never make, and what products people are wanting to sell me. But of worth? Extremely little. 

It was obvious that this arena needed more simplicity, to be more stream-lined, but how? At first I thought about limiting the time I spent online, only checking emails once or twice a day. But legalism can only take you so far and is not likely to make an enduring habit or lifestyle.

Instead I decided to bring my recent decluttering spree to the online nooks and crannies I frequent. I started off by unsubscribing from the dozens of newsletters that show up in my inbox that I never, ever read. The problem was that even though I wasn't spending time reading the, I was still spending time to click and send them to the trash or weed through my spam inbox to make sure nothing fell through the cracks. On a daily basis, these clicks add up. Plus they junk up my inbox.

So, I have spent about 15 to 30 minutes for the past couple of days unsubscribing from the various emails that would pop into my inbox and spam folder. Some of the unsubscribing was easier than others. (Do you know how psyched I get now when I come across "one-click unsubscribe" options?!) Still others said I was unsubscribed, even though I continue to receive their emails. (Which earned them a distinction flagged as spam.) Tedious, but at least some progress is being made!

Then, I decided the same needed to be made regarding my blog reading. I realized that when I have a blog reading list that is long and unwieldy, I spend half the time just trying to stay caught up, which then leaves me unable to really appreciate the worthwhile posts that do relate to my life. So I went through and whittled my reading down to about 20 tried-and-true blogs that I constantly find myself commenting on, saving or recalling later. With this smaller, more manageable list (of which you can find many of my blog recommendations on my blog roll), I now feel like I have the time to actually sit down and read each of them for all their worth, rather than just scrolling through them like a hitchhiker on the way to other destinations.

Currently, that's as far as the progress I've made to cut back time spent online, but I know that this process is incremental, finding one small way to make an improvement followed by another small way. Slowly, ever slowly, it all adds up and progress is made.

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  1. RIGHT ON! I know exactly what you mean. I spend FAR too much time on my laptop, and I've been trying to break the habitual constant checking and surfing.

    This was somewhat encouraging though.
    Thanks, and good luck!!

  2. Good luck!

    I've been decluttering my newsletters and FB lately, and will probably do the same with my reader list. I'm finding I spend too much time
    "surfing" instead of doing useful things or simply spending time with friends and family

  3. CARMEN- I LOVED THIS! What's funny is, I had a similar post "in my head" but haven't had the TIME to actually get it all down...b/c of all my other online distractions. We need to help each other out with this...I also struggle with this endeavor. I troll online until Tim gets home from work...usually about a good 2 hours WASTED. Great, great post! THANK YOU!

  4. Thanks, ladies! I really hope to learn more ways about how to minimize online distractions...this is just the start! Let me know any suggestions or tips you have, too!

  5. I commend you for the steps you've taken thus far. It is a numbing pastime, isn't it--the internet? Like anything else, it can be a tool or a trap.

    My son, 19, posted something that might encourage you, as it did me. He started realizing that the internet use was keeping him from stewarding His gifts and opportunities. Check it out.

  6. I read your post the day it came out, and have made quite a few changes to my "subscriptions" to junk in my email and the blogs I follow. Thanks so much !

  7. @ Zoanna - Thanks for sharing your son's blog post!

    @ Lacey - I know they're just little steps, but I'm glad they were able to help you, too. I'm hoping to continue to find other ways to keep the internet from taking over my time and, as Zoanna said, "His gifts and opportunities."

  8. I've been feeling a similar conviction. A quick "I'll just see if I have any new e-mail" can easily into 15 minutes...30 minutes...all of nap time...without my even noticing. And then I have the nerve to blame the baby when I don't have anything to show for my day!

  9. @ Lindsey - I know, I wish it weren't so easy to get sucked in! I'm sure you *do* have your hands quite busy with a baby, though. I don't have that excuse! ;)

  10. Oh! I definitely feel you on spending too much time online... =/ But I'm addicted! I can't help it! ha ha!

    By the way, I'm a new follower! Found you through the Friday blog hop. I just recently got back into blogging :o)

    Feel free to visit my blog at

    See you around!

  11. This is a very late comment, I know, but I just discovered your blog and saw this title and knew I had to read it. I waste so much time online that I literally can't remember chunks of some days! Thanks for your thoughts on the matter- spending more time away from the computer screen is one challenge I plan to rise to!

  12. Wow! This is great! I have also recently started unsubscribing from most of the email newsletters I'm receiving.


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