Online Time Management Makeover: Quarterly Update

Three months ago, I wrote this post detailing my plans for cutting back on my online time in 2018. I’ve been sticking to the strategy I spelled out for you all back in January, and the results have been pretty shocking, so I thought I would share them with you.

Disclaimer: I’m a regular, fallible human who has made her share of mistakes in collecting this data, so the numbers I’m laying out are by no means 100% accurate. Those numbers also don’t account for minutes spent online at work, although the social media numbers do account for times I’ve checked social media at work. Any further questions or clarifications, leave me a comment and ask.

I spent most of January trying to adjust to the changes I’d made, which means I wasn’t nearly as strict with myself as I was in February or March. I also struggled with how to calculate my percentage of total online time, which changed my end-of-month numbers at least twice.

Since I’m not counting work time or times when I should be sleeping, I had to subtract those hours from the total number of hours in a month in order to get the most accurate percentage. After all that was said and done though, I wound up spending 11% of my available time online in January, and using social media roughly 97 times. Those numbers are WAY lower than they would’ve been in December–in large part because I was actually paying attention–but still not great.

That said, they did motivate me a ton going into February, which you can probably tell from those numbers. I spent 8% of my available time online, and only used social media 74 times. That’s a pretty significant decrease for a one month time span.

However, I didn’t see nearly as much overall change in March for a couple of valid reasons, one of which being my mental health. When I’m having unusually high anxiety, I’m a lot more likely to mindlessly surf the internet than I am to tackle other, more challenging projects, and March was a rough mental health month for me. Another of those reasons had to do with how many more days there are in March as opposed to February, which didn’t impact my calculations for online time but did give me an additional three days to spend racking up social media usage.

I’m kind of grateful that I somehow spent only 8% of my free time online this month, yet still frustrated by how little time it took me to stagnate. I also had 89 social media usages in March, which was a lot more than last month. A small jump would’ve been understandable to me, given the three additional days I was dealing with, but 15 additional usages doesn’t feel small. One more reminder that I need to be better and more pro-active about cracking down on my Facebook and Twitter surfing going forward.

Although I am planning to keep using my spreadsheets to track the time I spend online at home, I’ve decided to try something different to track online time spent on my phone. Last week, I took the plunge and downloaded Quality Time, an app designed to do what I’m not meticulous enough to do and track which other apps I’m using the most, how many times I unlock my phone, and how many minutes I spend looking at it per day and per week. It’s too soon to tell if having Quality Time running has forced changes in my behavior, but I do like being able to open it up and determine immediately how much I’ve been using my phone on any given day.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep trying to cut down those percentages and social media numbers. My eventual goal is to spend three percent of my time online or less by the year’s end, and to check social media less than 40 times a month. I want to be able to post a status on FB or Twitter and take a brief look at what my friends are doing without letting either of those sites swallow my spare time or falling down rabbit holes that don’t leave me feeling good or productive.

So far, it feels like I’m off to a good start. 🙂

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