7 ways to avoid online overload
Written by
Fi Phillips
March 2011
Written by
Fi Phillips
March 2011
Do you spend more time talking to your other half on Twitter and Facebook than to their actual face? Has your life been taken over by blog hops and online projects? Is your email inbox reaching critical mass? If you can answer yes to any of these questions (or all of them in my case), then I may be able to help.
  1. Taking part in discussion forums can be interesting, informative and just generally make us feel part of a community. When you comment on or sign up to follow a thread, the result can be a constant stream of notification emails that fill your inbox to overflowing. Many forums generate an automatic 'follow' to any threads you comment on which can be useful if you want to read replies to what you've added to the discussion. The downside is that you find, days later, you're still receiving reply notifications which you don't have time to read. Most days I delete two or three blocks of such emails without opening them. The same can apply to joining a group on a forum. The answer to this is to opt out of reply notifications on threads and groups. Without that incessant flow of notifications into your inbox, you'll find that (a) you don't have to constantly read and/or delete them, (b) you are not distracted by said emails, and finally (c) you can take back some control over when you decide to visit these forums.
  2. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Blogger, I also subscribe to several (ok, a lot of) writing related sites. If I wanted to, I could spend 24 hours a day visiting them all. As a working mum, I don't have the time to do that. The answer for me is to mark up slots over the course of the week when I will commit the time to visit one or a couple of them. Some sites only warrant a visit every couple of weeks, or once a month. Work out how important each site is to your life, your whole life. Do you really have to twitter incessantly all day? Can you put Facebook down for 48 hours without the world grinding to a halt? Be realistic.
  3. If you find that you're spending too much time sorting your emails into the relevant folders and you use Microsoft Outlook, then Outlook's Job Agent can come in handy. In essence, it sorts your emails into the relevant folders for you. I've found a useful article about it here.
  4. Return to paper. I enjoy reading the news online and obviously this is an environmentally better solution to constantly buying news'paper's but once a week I will forsake the online news-sites and buy a copy of I, a concentrated copy of the Independent newspaper. It only costs 20p but still feels like a little luxury to me. I also, on occasion, step away from messaging my friends on Facebook and put pen to paper to write them a letter. Note I said 'write' not type. Letter writing seems to be suffering a decline in recent years but personally I love to receive a handwritten letter because it shows that the sender has taken the time and care to communicate with me rather than just rattling off an unpunctuated text or tweet.
  5. If you absolutely must visit all of those sites every day, then commit to a once daily check in. Put aside an hour (ok, maybe two hours) to visit all of your sites of choice, then put them away until the next day. 
  6. I've recently been introduced to the concept of blog hopping and also joined an online initiative called Creative Every Day. These have not only introduced me to new blogger friends but also provided me with many juicy blogging prompts. The only downside is that through my increased blogging community, I've been led to more and more blog hops and online projects. I would love to be able to take them all on but real life stamps its foot and reminds me that the ironing needs doing and didn't I promise to write four new plays for my playwriting business? If you have the time to take part in blog hops and online projects, then go for it but try to be realistic about how much time you can commit to them. Otherwise you'll find yourself running round like a headless chicken trying to do everything and enjoying nothing.
  7. Finally, if all else fails, turn it all off and step away from the computer, mobile phone, tablet or whatever other device you social network and surf on. You may feel twitchy for a while but the withdrawal symptoms will soon abate. You can always go back to it all tomorrow. Now, isn't that peaceful?

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