In a time when the world is connected to the internet 24/7, it’s hard to imagine how we can survive a day without it. Our work, social life, and entertainment depend on being connected so much that we feel that living a life without connectivity is impossible.
All the information we obtain online – the emails, news feeds, tweets, social networking statuses, etc. – can make us feel a little overwhelmed. If we don’t have some form of organization in our online life, it will be hard to stay away long enough to live out our offline life.
I believe that we ought to distance ourselves from our online life to experience the richness of the offline world. How do we do that? By simplifying what we deal with online on a day-to-day basis. Not only will it help make us more efficient with our online activities, but it will also give us some time off to get away from our matters on the web.
Here are nine tips you might consider using to help straighten out the mess.
1. Block Out Distractions
There you are, working on your latest report that needs to be submitted by the end of the day. You probably have either Facebook or some instant messaging chat going on in the background.
What usually follows is switching between windows every few minutes to check out Facebook updates, the latest tweets, or even replying to that blinking taskbar from your chat app. Personally, I feel that this keeps me going when the task at hand gets too boring.
On the other hand, I know how much more I could accomplish if I placed all my attention on the work to be done and removed all unnecessary distractions. If you don’t want your online life to interfere with whatever you have to do, take my advice and put them aside.
Despite being able to connect and obtain information like never before, such benefits can actually backfire and become a liability if you find yourself addicted to being connected all the time.
2. Leverage Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is currently trending for good reasons. Instead of storing data on a fixed storage device like a hard drive or thumb drive, cloud computing allows you to store it on the internet, in an online storage device. This way, whenever you are connected to the internet on any device, you will still have access to all your vital information.
Cloud computing enables you to be mobile. Storing all your data online offers unprecedented convenience. You don’t have to carry around storage devices and worry about misplacing them or forgetting to bring them from one venue to another.
Secondly, you can access all your data anywhere an internet connection is available and switch from one connected device to the next. Online life is made simpler with file-sharing apps like Dropbox and synchronization services like Google Sync, Google Drive, or Amazon Cloud Drive.
3. Minimizing Accounts
A simple solution is to reduce the number of accounts you hold. If you have multiple social networking and email accounts for different purposes (e.g., work, family, friends), it can be difficult to manage them individually and ensure you are using the correct account to contact people.
Additionally, unless you use the same password for each account (which is not recommended), you may struggle to remember passwords.
Adopt a minimalist approach to simplify your online presence. Ideally, limit yourself to no more than two social networking and email accounts each, or consider accessing all your social networking sites through a desktop app.
4. Manage Your Notifications/Updates
Make sure to preserve any HTML codes. Subscribing to too many RSS feeds can be overwhelming, as can receiving daily notifications on your smartphone about the latest updates on Facebook, new app add-ons, and other clutter.
Remember that each notification takes your attention away from what you’re doing. If you want a simple and efficient online experience, you don’t want unnecessary interruptions. Configure your notification settings to filter out only what you really need to know.
5. Designate Time for Online Tasks
I have an unhealthy tendency to check my inbox, Facebook, news sites, and so on every 5-15 minutes, even when I’m occupied with something on my computer. Sitting in front of a screen has conditioned me to do my routine tasks even as I am working on my own assignments.
Multitasking is good at times, but I hardly think repetitive checking is productive. It’s pretty obvious that these actions are robbing us of valuable time. Why not get our work done before we go check out the latest gossip on Facebook? The idea is to set aside some time to handle all our online tasks, perhaps at the end of the day when we can get all the updates for the day.
6. Unsubscribe from Email Lists
We often get subscribed to various email lists when we purchase or register for products and services. This is how companies market their latest products or update us on their activities. After a while, we may realize that many of these emails do not provide us with the information we want, but we subscribed earlier because we thought they might be useful eventually.
So, we instinctively delete those emails from our inbox when we recognize the sender. However, why not just unsubscribe from their mailing list? If your inbox is often flooded with spam, you will be surprised at how good it feels to only receive emails that you want to read.
7. Clear Your Inbox
Stopping unnecessary incoming emails is one thing, but clearing your inbox is another. Put read emails into relevant folders if necessary, but keep the inbox clean. It should only contain unread emails.
Clearing your inbox requires discipline that you must impose on yourself. This means that once you receive an email that requires your action, you must act on it – reply, forward, follow up, double-check, confirm, etc. – and be done with it as soon as possible.
Afterward, you can archive the email and feel a sense of satisfaction when you realize your inbox is empty until the next round of emails flows in. Once you have such a system in place, your online world will be more simplified, knowing that you don’t have to work on emails anymore.
Read also: Gmail Advanced Search – Ultimate Guide
8. Use Password Managers
For those with many online accounts, I bet that most of you reuse the same username and password because it’s not easy to remember all of them. However, this is not safe because if one of your accounts is hacked, the rest of them can be compromised as well.
A solution to this problem is to use password managers to remember your passwords. They are actually more secure than manually entering your passwords because they protect you from keyloggers that can capture your keystrokes.
Moreover, password managers compare the current site’s URL to the stored sites’ URL, which helps prevent phishing and pharming attacks. In addition to these security features, most password managers also assist in filling out lengthy web forms that you may encounter. Consider getting and setting up a password manager to better protect your accounts.
9. Take Timeouts or Days Off
Try to schedule timeouts from the internet every day or even on days off. If you are connected all the time, you will feel like you are always on the go, ready to jump into whatever emails or tasks you receive.
Everyone needs a break and to enjoy quality time away from such tension. Take an hour or so of quality offline time each day or a day during the weekends. Just switch off from the net. You will realize that you feel much more energetic and alive when you are moving around and talking to people.
Social interactions offline are much more valuable than those made on instant messengers or social networking sites. Similarly, nothing done in front of a computer screen can substitute for an awesome workout under the sun. The online aspect of your life should complement your offline world, not replace it. Simplify it, and you’ll see that it can work wonders for you.