It’s Saturday morning, and you’ve got chores to get done, but you decide to start by checking your email over breakfast. That can’t hurt, right? But eight hours later, the day’s vanished, and you’re somehow watching yet another YouTube clip of a cat doing something funny. You’ve done no chores at all. What went wrong?
It’s not just a failure of willpower on your part. It doesn’t feel good. You’ve wasted your time, and not even truly enjoyed it. You’ve got an internet addiction.
Internet Addiction: It’s Everywhere!
Before I get any psychologists talking to me, I probably ought to mention that internet addiction isn’t an officially recognised condition. But in 2016, it was reported that adults in the UK spent on average 9 HOURS A DAY online – and remember that most of these people have jobs! If that’s not addiction, then what is?
Take Back Your Time
Now, we’ve identified the problem here. If you’re like most people, you spend far too much time online, and not much of that doing anything that helps you grow. But these days we all need the internet at least to some extent, for business reasons and for social connections, so we can’t just throw all our computers and smartphones in the bin. So what can you do instead?
The solution comes in the form of various apps and browser extensions known as internet blockers. These apps will prevent you from accessing certain sites during certain times of day, making managing internet addiction much easier. Since I installed one of these on my own laptop, my productivity has tripled at least.
Which Internet Blocker Should I Get?
There’s a lot of choice in the internet blocker market, both free and premium, but here are some options you could look into. Usually, the premium ones have more functions.
I personally use StayFocusd, a browser extension for Google Chrome. It’s completely free, and it lets you choose what days of the week to block sites on, precisely which sites to block, and what hours of the day to block sites between. Unfortunately, you have to choose the SAME hours for every day, but this still does very well at managing internet addiction.
If you use an iPhone or iPad a lot, Freedom is a popular choice, which has both free and premium options. If neither of these internet blockers work for you, just google internet blockers for your device or browser and see what comes up.
Using Your Internet Blocker
Now that you’ve got your internet blocker and you’re ready to end your internet addiction, what should you do? Here are a few possibilities.
If you work from home, block yourself for eight hours during your most productive time of day, on every day that you want to get work done. Mine blocks me from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, every day of the week. This is extra helpful if your work is computer-based.
If you’re an employee, struggling to find time to do chores and cook proper meals, you could set it for two or three hours every weekday after you get home from work. Alternatively, if you really want to use it on weekday evenings, you could set it for eight hours on Saturday and Sunday only.
If you keep getting carried away and staying up until two when you need to get up at six, you could set it for, say, 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. That way, internet addiction won’t prevent you from getting your recommended eight hours of sleep.
Armed with your internet blocker, you should find yourself far more able to get stuff done. Make sure you block all the websites you use to waste time. If you find a new one and you’re wasting time on it, add it to the blocked list immediately. Don’t block your business email or your banking site, though – you’ll probably need those.
To Productivity And Beyond!
Internet addiction is an epidemic, but with an internet blocker, you’ve started to escape it. Now that you’re not wasting so much time online, you’ll have plenty of time to work on whatever you’d like to accomplish, whether that’s personal development, work, home improvement, or spending time with your family. You’ll have finally untangled yourself from the net, and found yourself some freedom. What you do with it is entirely up to you.