Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

147 Tips to Avoid Wasting Time Online That’ll Blow Your Mind

There you are, doing something worthwhile online–researching, reading the news, connecting with people on Facebook. Then you see a link. “This kitten has a special trick that’ll leave you speechless.” You click through to a web page with a Youtube video of a kitten smoking a cigarette and doing shots of Jaegermeister. You chuckle. You try hard to return to what you were doing. You add four minutes to your life’s clock of time ill used.

We don’t want to suggest that recreational activity–online or otherwise–is intrinsically time misspent, but if we saw our lives as balance sheets divided between time spent on activity that enriches and activity that distracts, chances are much of the viral media that’s out there is basically a waste of time.

A study released last year reported that Americans aged 18-64 who use social networks spend an average of 3.2 hours per day on those networks. While there is surely a portion of that time used to good effect, there is surely another (very large) portion that is spent clicking through to sites that add almost no value to our lives. If you’re interested in having more time for the important stuff, we suggest to look out for and, whenever possible, avoid online media with these attributes:

  1. Titles that use the following adjectives: richest, hottest, best, worst. These are almost always the things that lead to a lot of head-scratching and asking, “where did the time go?” and “what did I gain from learning that?”
  2. Virtually any list exceeding 15 items. Sure, every now and again there’s a useful list that’s longer than 15 (e.g. 100 cities with highest quality of life), but more often than not, these lists are a complete waste of time. In fact, most are designed to generate pageviews. Oftentimes, each item on the list has its own discreet page. The more pages you click on, the more ads the site will expose you to, the more revenue they generate. By all means, get drawn into good content, but beware of endless, superfluous lists.
  3. Virtually anything about celebrities. Unless you’re Kanye West, there’s very little probability that the comings and goings of Kim Kardashian having any bearing on your life.
  4. Stuff about the decade you were born in. 20 Things you’ll appreciated if you were born in the…90s, 80s, 70s, etc.” Yes, like millions of others, I used to listen to Wham and cuff my jeans. This is not critical information to my wellbeing. It’s not even that interesting or funny upon reflection.
  5. Titles that say “Must see.” Think about it, does a respected and venerated journalistic outlet like the NY Times–a place that delivers impactful, high quality, dare we say “must see” content–use the words “must see”? Okay, maybe they would in today’s click-happy media landscape., but really important stuff rarely needs to convince you of its import.
  6. Titles that end with “what happens next will blow your mind.” Okay, maybe it will blow your mind, but it will not, in all probability enlarge it.
  7. Titles with “Your won’t believe…” Again, unbelievability and usefulness are not synonymous.
  8. Titles that start with “Things you didn’t know about…” You probably didn’t know about these things because they weren’t that important.

How would you increase this list? Let us know in our comments section.

 

  • Dorota Skowronska

    I have created a completely useless list of 50 words commonly confused, like ‘discrete’ and ‘discreet’. Nobody wants to read it…

    • David Friedlander

      only 50?

    • IIlI

      your great! i wish i had you’re idea! 😀

  • Dave

    I ignore articles that have “could” in the title. Waste of time.

  • Teresa Palko

    Exactly what this list is…

  • Lindy_TX

    Get the most useful [insert object] for free! — almost always leads you down the rabbit hole.

  • WithheldName

    Many of these are actually sponsored ads. If the section says “you might like” or “recommended” or “most popular”, chances are somebody paid for that placement.

  • IIlI

    i enjoyed the 80s and 90s list of stuff at least while i read it. i like reading fluff sites once in a while, if not once per day or two. i really mostly read business and science news but a balance is good. some lame humor cheers me up. and yes, seeing kim kardashian’s beautiful butt and her newest dress IS exciting for me. why not? we are people and we are social. we enjoy seeing each other and talking about the latest trends. doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time. it’s a part of the human experience.