Being a digital media guy, I spend a lot of time online contacting interviewees, reading blogs and researching and writing articles.
I’ve also a wasted a lot of time checking out my favourite sites repeatedly and perusing various forums and social media sites. Today, I use the internet more productively and save time online.
These simple tips may help you work harder and control your internet use:
Make a List
It sounds simple but I find it really helpful to make a list of topics I want to look up. This list includes things like software updates, game reviews, movie trailers, YouTube videos and Photoshop tutorials.
Then, when I’ve finished whatever I’m working on, I work quickly through this list.
Plug Out the Modem
Up until recently, I was a member of a creative writing group. One of the members of this group told us she was only able to write when she physically unplugged her modem and locked it in a press.
Use a Feed Reader
The nature of my work means I’ve to spend a lot of time reading various tech and productivity websites and blogs. I never liked Google Reader (which was recently discontinued), and up until recently I visited each of these sites individually, checking for updates. This is an insane way to work.
I installed the news reader Feedly and subscribed to my favourite websites and blogs. This minimalist, magazine style news reader is supported with iOS and Android apps, and it’s a pleasure to use.
Now, I check Feedly twice a day for updates instead of returning the same websites repeatedly.
My days of pressing F5 are over.
Implement Inbox Zero
Email is one of the biggest time sinks in our lives. I implemented inbox zero six months ago and I haven’t looked back. I wrote about how to do this here.
If you’re unsure about Inbox Zero, consider signing up to the Email Charter.
Use Bookmarking Apps
Apps like Instapaper and Pocket are great for reading articles on the go. I use these in conjunction with Feedly to save articles I don’t have time or the inclination to read immediately. Then, when I’ve half an hour to kill (usually on public transport), I read these saved articles.
Tame Mobile Devices
Disabling my internet browser on my iPhone is the single biggest time saver I’ve made in months. This method may be too extreme for some, but it’s still possible to turn a mobile into a minimalist device and reduce the amount of time spent checking feeds and emails for arguably unnecessary updates.
Alternatively, while working consider turning off the household router and/or 3G access on mobile devices.
Embrace Single Tasking
Lifehacker regularly writes about the perils of multitasking. I find it really helpful to focus on accomplishing one task at a time rather than many tasks at once. When I’m doing this at a computer, I use the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s a really effective way to work, without getting distracted.
The internet isn’t all about work. When I’m finished with a particular task, Pomodoro or project, I reward myself with a break. This may involve checking some of my favourite websites or forums or watching a YouTube video.
It’s still necessary to get up and stretch and take screen breaks, but I find internet rewards are a good motivation tool.
Please let me know in the comments section below about how you save time online.