Simplify your online life

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It’s all well and good clearing the clutter from your house, when you still spend an hour or more every day dealing with your online crap. Now, I’m not suggesting you deny the existence of the 21st century and live like a monk. The internet is a wonderful invention and for most people it will bring far more convenience than hassle. But here are a few easy ways to claim back some of that wasted time.

  1. Unsubscribe
    Right, I want you to grab a hot drink of your choice and log in to you emails. Now, unsubscribe from any regular messages that you don’t want to receive. If you’re trying to save money, consider unsubscribing from all marketing emails too. Clearing out email inboxes is a scourge of modern life. Your time on earth is too valuable to waste on shit like this.
  2. Turn off notifications
    You don’t need an email every time somebody in your network tweets something. You don’t need your phone to bleep every time somebody repins your Pinterest pin. Turn it all off and get some peace.
  3. Close unused accounts
    Think about how many accounts you have accumulated over the years, floating around the internet. If you’re not using them, close them.
  4. Redirect
    Do you have three or more email accounts? I do – one for the blog, one for work, one personal, one old personal one set up in my maiden name, one even older personal one set up with a silly name when I was a teenager. Pain in the arse to check them all. Set up a redirect so they’re all coming to one inbox. Better still, close as many as you can.
  5. Get social: leave social media
    Are you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest? Have you gone for Google Plus or LinkedIn, or even have a MySpace account languishing somewhere online that you haven’t looked at in years? How do you feel when you check Facebook – genuinely sociable, or jealous and self-conscious? Which accounts do you actually get something from, and which ones could you live without? If you can’t bear to close your accounts, try suspending them as a test. Use the time you would have spent checking Facebook to call a friend and properly chat.
  6. Unplug your tech
    Twenty years ago, people would go out and about without a mobile phone and the world wouldn’t end. Now, everyone is expected to be reachable everywhere, all the time. Try turning off your phone for a day and see how it makes you feel. Anxious? Free?
  7. Limit your time online
    If you’re anything like me, there’ll be a daily circuit of checking stuff online. Log into Facebook, check your emails, head over to Twitter, read that blog you have saved in your favourites, check your bank balance, hit a news site…oooh, I wonder if anyone’s posted anything new on Facebook? You can’t just do one circuit, you end up going round and round and round and… Break the cycle. Give yourself 20 minutes online to do anything you need to do. Then get the hell off the internet.
  8. Set boundaries
    Whether that’s no internet in the bedroom, downloading software that will block time-wasting sites when you need to focus, or simply setting a time of the day for going online, find something that works for you. Equally, you can set boundaries for other people, by managing their expectations. You could set up an auto-reply on an email account saying it isn’t checked that often, so people shouldn’t expect an instant response, or tell your work colleagues you won’t be answering your company phone while at home.
  9. Get out and do something
    When I was small, there was a children’s TV show in the UK all about activities, called Why Don’t You?, or to give it its full title, Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead? Nowadays, its not just the TV screen that sucks us away from living life. Screens are everywhere, and you’re most susceptible to being lured in by them when you’re bored. So get out and do something interesting.

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