Monday, June 02, 2008

How to avoid time-wasting with computers

Does it happen to you to sit in front of the computer without knowing what particularly you are intending to do and spoil your time for hours without doing something special?
Whether you are a computer geek or a user who just use the computer for work or leisure for a limited time, it’s a matter of fact that this damned invention of human has an unlimited potential of temptation in a way that it amuse you for long times and you don’t feel how the time passes. I used the word “damned invention” because it can be as destructive as it can be useful – like TV that raises couch potatoes (!), computers raise Mouse Potatoes.

The amount of time people waste along with computers every day, vary from less than an hour to all their available time. Maybe you could measure these times using the technique that I’m going to show you now as well as you defeating them. But before that, let’s have a look at the booster factors of time wasting with computers to have a better understanding on how computers waste your time.
The first thing that considers important is the difference between when you are online and offline. Your computer when it’s offline always have a limited factors of time wasting or at least you think that it doesn’t have something new; this is important because all of us tend to look for something new to fulfill ourselves when we feel tired or not enough busy. There may be some computer games, a bunch of unread articles you’ve saved, some movies and video clips and pieces of your favorite music along with some computer programs you like or want to test on your local computer; usually there aren’t much more than these stuff to spend time with but on the contrary when you are online there is a vast opportunity of time wasting. Thousand of websites to surf, Instant messaging programs (IM’s), emails, social networks and let’s say that the opened Google’s homepage would be enough to start a whole day gazing at the computer screen.
As you noticed there is a significant difference between an online computer with an offline one regarding to potential of time wasting. So as an important matter, if this is your case please really consider limiting your online activities. If you really do not need your internet connection at times, so disable your connection or at least you can disable the online programs that may take your time. Close your mail client if you are not waiting for an important email and alternatively close the IM, VOIP programs when you are not using them and avoid staying online unless you have a reason to do that.
The technique I’m going to show you now is really simple but so efficient. It’s just a simple rule that you need to bear in mind whenever you go toward a computer: “write up the exact time of when you start using the computer doing something unimportant on a place that you see it.”
That’s it, no need to pain, obligations and promises to manage your time. Just use this rule and you will be astonished on how efficient this simple rule could be to minimize time wasting with the computers. I use the border of front side of my monitor to write up the starting time of an unimportant activity because I found there the best place where catch sight while working with the computer. I use a whiteboard marker so that it can be easily cleaned or replaced with another time mark. I recommend using different large shapes and styles each time you write the time in order to prevent the time mark become something ordinary that you do not notice.
After you wrote the starting time, whenever you notice the time mark, you will then involuntarily look at your clock and ask yourself “how much time am I spending on this activity?” and then you surely quit the activity after a few times you observed the time mark. This is exactly like to hire someone that always pops up on you whenever you do something unimportant and tells you “How much time are spending on this? You have more important things to do”.
Just test it and see how efficient it can be on time saving, there is no cost and you only need to let it always remind you how much time you are spending on certain activities. After you’re quitted that activity you may calculate how much time did it take to cope that activity and for your personal records you may write it on a piece of paper or better enter it in a program like Excel which lets you make diagrams of your improvement over days.
Before applying this technique I used to spend more than 3 hours every day just reviewing my “Google Reader” page. I call applications like “Google Reader” seductive dangerous spots because they are the collection and center of someone’s favorite stuff from around the net and they always have something new to spend time with. But how seductive these spots are, this technique is enough powerful for me to close “Google Reader” window whenever it tells me “Come on, How much time are you spending on this?”