How to Spend Less Time on the Computer

Three Methods:Using Your Computer EfficientlyLimiting Screen TimeSeeking Support

In our modern world, many people spend too much time in front of a computer screen. Sitting in front of your computer for long periods can increase your risk for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cardiovascular disease, and the buildup of fat around the midsection.[1] Therefore, it's important to make the effort to tear yourself away from the computer each day. You can organize your screen time, make some minor changes, and seek outside help from friends and family members.

Method 1
Using Your Computer Efficiently

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    Keep track of your computer time. To start, spend a day tracking your computer time. Many people convince themselves they need to be online as much as they are due to work, school, and social obligations. However, this may not be true. If you keep a log of what you do online and how long you do it, you'll be surprised how much of your screen time is unnecessary.
    • For a day, carry around a small notebook. Each time you use your computer, write down what you're doing, how long you're doing it for, and whether or not this is a necessary task. You may spend 20 minutes replying to e-mails for work, a task which is vital to your professional career. Before and after this, however, you may spend 30 minutes total browsing Facebook.[2]
    • Be honest. You do not have to show your journal to anyone else. The goal here is for you to assess where your time is going and how to alter that time. For example, you may be shocked to realize you spend 2 hours a day total on social media sites. If you feel that's too much, from here you can set a goal to cut that back to an hour. See if you can reach that goal the following day.[3]
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    Schedule breaks. Staring at a screen for too long is unhealthy and can easily lead to eyestrain and headaches. Therefore, schedule breaks from computer usage. This can help you consciously make an effort to spend time away from your computer.
    • If you have downtime at work, do not immediately get on Twitter or Facebook. Instead, spend some time away from your computer. Go for a short walk. Read a book for 10 minutes. Call a friend to chat.[4]
    • When you're home alone, try to consciously schedule breaks when you're working on the computer. For example, after 2 hours of computer usage promise yourself you'll take a 20 minute walk with the dog. This will pull you away from the screen and give you a break. You can even set a timer to help yourself stay on track.[5]
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    Designate time away from the computer each day. If you're spending too much time on the computer, you should actively work on being more conscious of how you spend your time. Try to schedule time each day when you power down your laptop. A 2 or 3 hour technology-free block in your day will greatly help you use your time more wisely.
    • Pick a specific timeframe where you will not use your computer. It can be helpful to choose the same timeframe each day. For example, every day after work from 5 o'clock to 7 o'clock you'll be off your computer.[6]
    • It might be hard at first. Many people learn to use technology as their single source of downtime. Engaging in activities you enjoy can help. Cook or bake something. Go for a long walk. Read a book. Do a puzzle. Call a friend you haven't talked to in awhile.
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    Plan internet usage. Just as you plan time away from your computer, scheduling your internet usage can also help. The internet is often designed to entice you to stay as long as possible. Many websites encourage mindless clicking and browsing. Planning how long you'll use the internet each day can help you from getting sucked in.
    • Know exactly what you want to do online before getting on the computer. If you want to update your Facebook status, plan to update your status and then move on. If you want to buy a Valentine's Day present for your boyfriend, know what you're looking for and where to look before opening your computer. If you want to catch up on the news, bookmark a few news websites you enjoy reading and check those as soon as you get online.[7]
    • If you occasionally enjoy simply browsing the internet, you can still do so. However, set time limits for yourself. For example, you can allow yourself 90 minutes a day to simply go online. Set a timer for yourself and get offline when the timer goes off. At first, this might take some discipline but you'll come to enjoy your newfound self control.
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    Block distracting sites. When you tracked your daily internet use, what sites took up the most time unnecessarily? Did you waste time on Facebook? Did you spend too much time browsing humorous sites, like Cracked? Most browsers have ad-ons or applications you can download that can temporarily block your access to time wasting sites. Firefox has a technology called LeechBlock, for example, that block websites for set periods of time. Consider installing some of these ad-ons and blocking troublesome sites for a few hours each day. That way, if you need to be on the computer you can make sure you use your time wisely.[8]
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    Use technology to help you. There are other ad-ons and applications that can help you manage your internet time. Consider investing in some of them if the internet is a major culprit in you spending too much time on your computer.
    • If you depend on the computer for your job, try RescueTime. This is an analytics application that can break down what you're doing on your computer each day and for how long. This can be quicker and simpler than tracking your computer time yourself each day. You can use RescueTime to see how you're improving as you strive to spend less time online.[9]
    • SelfControl is an application for Macs that blocks troublesome websites. It's similar to other ad-ons in that you block a site for a set number of hours. However, it's much harder to disable. You cannot get rid of SelfControl by deactivating the timer or restarting your computer You simply have to wait for the allotted time to pass. If you frequently disable or delete similar browser ad-ons, SelfControl may work for you.[10]
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    Do computer related work as soon as possible. If you need to e-mail a colleague or complete another task online, you may procrastinate. This can lead to you wasting time browsing the internet or playing games after opening your laptop to complete a task. Simply changing the way you prioritize can lead to less time online.
    • When you have to work to do on the computer, make that the priority when you get online. Promise yourself you won't open Facebook until you've sent out that work-related e-mail. Avoid playing a game of The Sims if you haven't uploaded the new design to your company's website.[11]
    • It can be awkward to avoid procrastination at first. Many people are chronic procrastinators and the instant gratification of something like a game or social media is more enticing than work. It may take you a few days to get in the hang of prioritizing properly. If you fail to do so at first, keep trying. Eventually, this small change can add up to less hours a day on the computer.

Method 2
Limiting Screen Time

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    Rearrange your desktop. Sometimes, small changes can make a big impact in how much time you're spending online. Simply rearranging the desktop on your computer can help. Get rid of shortcuts that take you to games or websites you enjoy. Keep your laptop or computer out of your bedroom so it's not the first thing you think of in the morning. These are minor changes, but they can help you avoid temptation.[12]
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    Power down your computer when you're not using it. Any small thing you can do to delay gratification can deter you from using your computer. When you're not using your computer or laptop, turn it off. If you know you have to wait for it to power up again before use, you may be less likely to spend a spare 10 minutes online.[13]
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    Avoid your phone. If you have a smart phone, it may encourage the temptation to use your computer. Checking the internet and your social media profiles might tempt you to open up your laptop. Simply scheduling some time away from the phone can help lessen your computer usage.
    • Make a rule about no phones out during mealtimes, even if you eat alone.[14]
    • On occasion, go for a walk without your phone. If possible, attend a social event and leave your phone at home.
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    Make small commitments to yourself. Oftentimes, big commitments are hard to maintain. Change takes time and you may not go from being a computer junkie to spending 2 hours a day technology free. If you're struggling to make a transition, try making small 5 to 15 minute commitments.
    • Promise yourself you'll take a 15 minute walk 3 times a week. Try to honor this commitment no matter what occurs. This may feel more doable than a goal like, "I'll spend an hour a day working out instead of using the computer."[15]
    • Scheduling tiny pockets of time can add up. You may find you enjoy your 5 minutes away from your laptop and you'll begin to naturally desire to spend more time offline.

Method 3
Seeking Support

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    Use the internet to enhance social experiences. Getting out and seeing friends can be a great way to spend less time on the computer. You can actually use the internet and technology to enhance social experiences. Try using social networking sites to make plans for physical get-togethers with friends.
    • Start making concrete plans when chatting with people online. Instead of offering vague promises, like "Let's get dinner some time," offer a real plan. Say something like, "Are you free next Tuesday? Do you want to get dinner at 7 o'clock?"[16]
    • MeetUp is a site where you can join groups based on your interests. From there, leaders of those groups plan face-to-face meet ups where you can make new friends. Try joining MeetUp and attending some events.[17]
    • You can also use online applications to plan events. Use Google Calendar or Facebook to schedule a game night, for example.[18]
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    Make concrete plans with friends. Make a point of making plans with friends each week. Even something small, like grabbing coffee after work, can encourage you to spend less time online. You could also suggest you and your friends take up a new hobby together. You could start hiking on the weekends or join a local sports league.
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    Seek therapy if you show signs of internet addiction. Not everyone can spend less time on the computer by themselves. Internet addiction is a psychological disorder in which you develop an emotional addiction to using your computer. If you believe you suffer from internet addiction, seek out psychological counseling.
    • If you have internet addiction, you may feel a compulsive to be online all the time. You may experience anxiety and depression when separated from the computer. When using the computer, you may feel euphoric and isolated from the rest of the world. People suffering from internet addiction are also dishonest about how they spend their time. If you find yourself lying to others about your time online, you may have internet addiction.[19]
    • Make an appointment with a therapist if you display any of the above symptoms. You can ask for a referral from your doctor or call your insurance company and ask for a list of providers in your network. If you are a student, you may be entitled to free counseling through your college or university.


  • Return to a neglected hobby. If you used to do the newspaper crossword puzzle every day, try returning to that. This may encourage you to spend less time online.

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Categories: Addictions