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Digital Distractions: How to Stop Technology from Stealing Your Time

You have a ton of things to do but for some reason, you are fascinated by what people are posting on instagram, where your friends are eating dinner, and the latest rant from @KimKardasian on Twitter.

You know there has to be a better way to spend your free time but you cannot seem to stop yourself from being distracted.

Well, you’ve come to right place. Our easy access to information and entertainment has made it hard for us to focus on other things. This post is designed to help you limit or completely eliminate the digital distractions in your life. Many of these tips will not only limit how much you are online but will help you stay focused on the tasks at hand. Let’s get started!

Go Back in Time (FREEDOM)

Freedom is an great app that locks you away from the internet so that you can focus on other things. Freedom is good because it allows you to travel back in time before all of the digital distractions existed. Without the constant temptation of checking email or browsing Youtube, you will be forced to do something more productive with your time.

The best way to utilize your time in the dark ages, is to schedule what you are going to do with your new found freedom. For example, if you decided that you would like two hours a night of freedom from the internet, plan what you will do with that time before you unplug from the net.

Unplug the Net (Net Nanny)

What happens if you need to use the internet but you want to use the internet for projects, homework, or other things, but you don’t want to get sucked up into an internet journey? In this case, software that limits the internet instead of completely eliminating it works best. Then you may want to use a content filtering software like Net Nanny.

Net Nanny is an internet content filter used by parents to prevent their little ones from stumbling on to something inappropriate for them. The software is still pretty awesome for getting rid of distracting content of all kinds.

Think about the types of websites that distract you the most or that you would like to visit less. If it seems like you click on every Miley Sirus drug use article that you come across, then using a new blocking tool that will filter that or similar content will be your best bet to kick that habit. Block those sites and keywords that tend to lure you away from doing what you want.

Rescue Time

You may be an internet addict and not even know it. In order to know know what really distracts you, you will need to know how you spend your time online. Download a software that will track your internet usage and offers reports for how you spend your time. A tool like Rescue Time can help show you the truth of how you spend your time. Rescue time has an option of tracking and creating reports of what sites you use and how much time you spent on social media, email and other sites.

Similar to Net Nanny, there is an option to block certain sites that may distract you as well.

Some of these types of these content filtering software have a mobile version. To be sure that you have no distractions around you, download a version for every device that may steal your attention.

Give Up Your Passcode

Your phone may be the major culprit that steals the majority of your time. To prevent yourself from constantly grabbing your phone and playing Candy Crush or checking Facebook, hand your phone over to someone you trust and allow them to set the pass code to unlock your phone.

Since the pass code doesn’t prevent phones from receiving calls, you can still answer the phone if someone you need to talk to calls. But, since you don’t have the code, you will be prevented from making calls out to anyone just to chat.

Ignore all Request and Eliminate the Unnecessary

Besides friend request and some (but very few) request to like a page, I never accept any request. Not game request, or any other application request. The reason for this is to keep my personal Facebook page as basic as possible. The less access I have to games, and tools, the less time I will spend on Facebook.

I also limit how many apps are on my phone. As soon as I get a new phone, I browse through the apps that are already installed. Apps that I know I will never use get deleted. It turns out that many of the apps do similar or the exact same thing. For example, my previous Andriod phone was equipped with Maps, Google Maps and TeleNavigation which are GPS applications. It also had FM radio, Play Music and Slacker Radio. And then it had Play Magazines and Zinio (magazine app). My goal was to clean out all of the apps that I don’t use and only download the few that I use.

Unfollow the Uninteresting

When I first joined Twitter in 2008, I was so excited about the amount of information and conversation available. I began following every and anyone who had anything interesting to say and many that had nothing interesting to say.

But then as Twitter began to grow into the social media giant it is now, my newsfeed began to get overcrowded with excess clutter. I’ve had several rounds of “unfollowing” many people on Twitter.

I try not to follow or like any page that I think will not add value to my Twitter or Facebook experience. I don’t do this out of spite, its just easier to enjoy these sites when I’m not overwhelmed with updates.

Using Google Instead of Yahoo

Nothing against Yahoo but their homepage is a huge conglomerate distraction for the eyes. Trending topics, “news” stories, sports scores and other flashy things are designed to keep your eyes on their site. I have an email address there which I have decided to only check on my phone because of the distractions Yahoo presents. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the story about Jwwwo and Snooki’s photo shoot is interesting, but, you’ve got more important things to do.

Google isn’t perfect, those Google doodles can sometimes throw a person off track but you’re much more likely to get back to doing what you were doing once you’ve played the digital guitar. If you still think that Google will be a distraction, Duckduckgo.com is a search engine that is becoming one of my favorites.

Purge Your Subscriptions

The average internet user spends 19% of their time online on email and communication. I absolutely believe this statistic and I probably exceed that number. Just going through one of my personal email address at Yahoo this week I found there were only 4 relevant emails. The rest were updates and deals from stores, a few restaurants, some e-bills and about 9 of them were from Yahoo. This is too much. I need my life back and purging many of my subscriptions will help me do that

In the beginning of this year I unsubscribed every email subscriptions that sent an email more than twice a week. Then, I unsubscribed to emails to stores where I haven’t shopped for more than 6 months. I did the same for travel sites that send me discounts on rental cars and hotels. I find that these deals stay consistent when I am planning a trip so there’s no need for them to crowd my inbox.

Doing this has made checking emails much easier and more enjoyable. Now I only have the subscriptions that I find valuable. Find all of the emails subscriptions that are not useful and eliminate the spammers. Keep the the blogs you read (like Potential 2 Success) and other sites that add value to your life instead of take time away from it.

Turn Notifications OFF

Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t accept invitations to play or download anything from Facebook. Since I don’t there’s no need for Facebook to notify me when a soon to be unfriended friend sends one. In fact, I have turned off some email notifications and DM notifications on Twitter.

You can also turn off text notifications so that you are not notified when a text message comes in. This will prevent you from checking your phone breaking your focus when someone texts you.

Use “StayFocusd”

Stayfocusd is a Google Chrome extension that limits that amount of time you can spend on particular sites. If you are working on a project and want to eliminate all distractions for a certain period of time, this extension will allow you to do just that.

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