The Secret to Spending Less Time on the Internet

The reason why I want to spend less time on the internet is so that I can spend more time reading and studying the Bible, and spending time reading books by authors that have proven to be worthy of reading. Hopefully this may help others with the same or different objectives for streamlining their time spent in front of a screen of one kind or another.

Time Wasters
There is a delicate balance, because there is a lot to be learned from material that’s on the internet, which I have greatly benefited from and will continue to do so. I’ve also wasted a lot of time. The main offenders for me would be YouTube and watching more YouTube videos that are suggested on the site, and Facebook along with reading articles linked from people on Facebook. I don’t think those sites are inherently bad; it’s a matter of managing what to do with them for most of the people who use them, unless they’re such a problem they need to quit altogether. Maybe these ideas could apply to sites that you frequent.

I could just eliminate them. But I don’t want to cut myself off from good internet friends by completely ignoring Facebook. That’s where a lot of my blogging friends are, some who aren’t blogging anymore. These people are valuable to me.

I’m learning various things from fitness channels on Youtube, trying to learn whatever I can to improve or maintain my health through nutrition and exercise with the limitations I have. I can find others in the same situation and learn from them. Most of us have our hobbies and interests that we have to balance. The secret below will be key.

That’s where I am in this whole thing. Here is what I’ve come up with:

The simplest article on this subject I have found is How To Read More — A Lot More. If your objective is to read more and you can do this, you can stop right here.

I haven’t read many biographies, but many people have stressed how valuable they can be. We can see how much people studied, and how well they were able to get along without the internet–as valuable as it can be. In some ways they were better off without it.

Social Media
Regarding social media, there are things you can do to streamline your time. For Facebook, many of you know that you can create lists, or categories of friends, and people or organizations that you follow. Make a short list of the most important. Make a list of friends you want to keep in touch with. Maybe once a week you can go through all of it.

Regarding Twitter, I only follow people who bring information to me, along with a select few people who are entertaining who don’t really take up much time to scan through. Instead of going out and looking for what’s going on in certain areas, I can follow people who will post these things for me. Make Twitter work for you.

If you like to comment on forums, people’s walls, blogs, or whatever medium it is, ask yourself if it would be beneficial for yourself and for them to do so. If there are a lot of comments already and you’re just posting something silly, or getting into an argument (not that I’ve ever done that), then you’re wasting everybody’s time, and in addition to that, now you have stuff coming in your email inbox whenever someone else comments, if you have that option enabled on Facebook as an example. If there is something you have to offer, or if there is a poor blogger who doesn’t get many comments (me), it can be worthwhile to spend the time.

Blog Reading
One small thing I’ve started doing is not checking my RSS feed everyday, and not clicking on new posts unless there are at least two or three for that blog. This seems to be more efficient. And of course, only subscribing to blogs that are beneficial, allowing for a couple that are just entertainment.

Tim Challies gives some helpful tips in Get Rid of These 6 Things.

I have also toyed with the idea of putting articles I want to read in Save To Pocket instead of just clicking on them as they appear when I first come across them. Then when I go to read them later on, I may be less likely to want to spend the time on all of them and be a little more selective. If you like this idea, here is an article related to that:
9 Tools To Save What You Read On The Web For Later
Be careful of those suggestions on the right. By the way, I used Evernote–mentioned in the article–for collecting items for this blog post, and these are also productivity tools.

The Secret
Now, the secret to all of this is to pray that you will want to grow closer to God by reading the good stuff rather than doing less the edifying reading on the Web. All of us believers want more of God, I would hope, and we can do all of the little tricks we want, but we need to want God Himself so much more that the other things pale in comparison. See Want, Ask, Seek, Wait, Find for a Proverbs model of this. Be accountable to God, as we should for everything (1 Corinthians 10:31). Realize you live with and before him and he in you, all of the time. This is a good thing, because his grace is always available, whether it’s for strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), self discipline (2 Timothy 1:7) or forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

From a couple of good authors to read:

The Scripture reproacheth the vanity and folly of the minds of men, in that “they spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which profiteth not.” They engage the vigour of their spirits about perishing things, when they have durable substance and riches proposed unto them.

–John Owen, The Glory of Christ

Rule 6. Get much of heaven into your heart. Spiritual things satisfy; the more of heaven is in us, the less earth will content us. He that hath once tasted the love of God, (Ps. 63:5) his thirst is much quenched towards sublunary things; the joys of God’s Spirit are heart-filling and heart-cheering joys; he that hath these, hath heaven begun in him, and shall not we be content to be in heaven? O get a sublime heart, “seek those things which are above.” (Col. 3:1) Fly aloft in your affections, thirst after the graces and comforts of the Spirit; the eagle that flies above in the air, fears not the stinging of the serpent; the serpent creeps on his belly, and stings only such creatures as go upon the earth.

–Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

This has been brewing a long time. I looked back at my second blog and realized I’ve been working on this for over two years. I was surprised. Will I ever master this beast called The Internet?

Do you have any thoughts to pass on?

This post is probably too long, but I wanted to include these extra items that I collected that you can look into if you want to spend even more time on the internet reading this post and the others linked below.


Also see:

Watching Sports
Aside from the internet is I tend to combine my love of watching NFL football with my reading. Football on the TV, low volume, and a book in hand. I used to read during commercials. I developed the skill of remembering where I am in the book where I left off. Now with a TiVo DVR, I pause for 20-30 minutes, read, then watch the game skipping through the commercials, and even skipping between plays. The 30 second skip button works well most of the time for US football. As far as soccer, I’m afraid you just have to watch the whole thing other than halftime. Or just watch the highlights afterwards so that you can see the one or two goals that were scored. For sports fans, whatever the sport, you can at least read during commercials if it’s lighter fare.

Thank you
Thanks to David Black for mentioning this post.

4 Responses to “The Secret to Spending Less Time on the Internet”

  1. 1 Eric

    Really great suggestions for the new year (or any time). I read during the commercials too and often times get so interested in what I’m reading that I forget about what I’m watching. I also want to quit wasting so much time and, like Mary, chose the “better part.”

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    You and I are so similar. I can’t believe I didn’t include the Scripture about Mary. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. 3 Peter Schmidt

    I’ll come back and comment later; Facebook and Youtube are more important right now. 😉

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    Funny. That post was so long and boring you just couldn’t stand not seeing something interesting.

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