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10 Productive Ways to Spend Time on the Internet

October 28, 2014

Surprisingly, for us internet savvy generation, it is pretty easy to get myopic with the medium. Given the sheer scale of the internet, there is so much to see, do and learn and yet most of us find ourselves going back to the same humdrum over and over again. In this post, I will talk about how you can work on re-directing that passive, Facebook-consumed energy into something more productive. So turn off that Facebook window and consider these following recommendations to make the best of internet and feel productive. Trust me, there is a lot more to the internet than narcissistic indulgences.

1. Learn something new

One is never too old to learn a new skill. And no skill ever goes wasted. Websites like Coursera and MIT Open Course Ware are excellent sources of knowledge, providing free courses on a multitude of topics and skill areas.

If not for a course, check out websites like Quora (a fun discussions community), LifeHacker (a well of tips on how to get things done), StumbleUpon (provides good recommendations on websites tallying your interests), HowStuffWorks (just to become a little bit wiser about the things around you), Duolingo (a fun web app to learn the basics of a new language) or even Wikipedia, for that matter, to (perhaps) up your IQ or for the sake of knowing something more than you did yesterday. I have, through personal experience, found that learning something new keeps the mind excited and energized. And all this, for free!

2. Develop opinions and world views

The only thing that is worse than being a person without opinions is being someone with pointless opinions. Up your social quotient by juicing up on worldviews and perspectives by subscribing to interesting YouTube channels or catching some interesting talks on TEDTalks (a personal favourite I must say). If you prefer reading something instead, my tops picks would be FastCompany (I religiously read their articles, case studies and blogs), Entrepreneur (for some inspiring stores) and Goodreads (to find recommendations on the next great book to read).

3. Get organized

Instead of just whiling away your time on the internet, make an effort to organize your life. For starters, try organizing your computer files (you know that pile pictures you have been meaning to sort? Start there). You may even want to empty your inboxes once in a while. Answer all those emails you have been putting on hold and get those out of the way. It’s a good feeling to wake up to an empty inbox (or a relatively empty one, too). Another productive thing to do is to use some free internet time to get your finances in order, pay your bills, and to look into your investments. And if this last bit got you particularly interested, look up Investopedia for some good tips and lessons on personal financing and investments.

4. Update your personal and professional life

Use your free time to get back in touch with your family and friends. Make a Skype call instead of dropping a text message. Sometimes, a hearty chat with a dear friend is all it takes to get you feeling productive.

And even if you happen to completely love your job it doesn’t hurt to update your résumé (or a professional profile on sites like LinkedIn) once in a while. It’s a good personal development check at times. Let this exercise be a reminder to you to get updated on skills and remain productive.

5. Shop smart

I am an avid online shopper and find shopping online (especially for high involvement products) as particularly enabling, given I have a dearth of helpful advisors in my physical space. A recent discovery, for me, has been the concept of online coupons. Some of them are actually helpful in getting you some good deals and price-offs on products across certain websites. I have looked up deals on CupoNation (available across multiple geographies) and Cupondunia (an Indian couponing portal). Look for a couponing company working around your geography and shop smart online.

And if you are not comfortable turning in your credit card details just yet, online shopping helps narrow down your choices, at the very least. That’s my idea of window shopping these days.

6. Pick a cool new app

In this world of android and iOS, one can always reach out to an app to make their lives a little bit easier. On most lazy Sundays when I am too bored of browsing someone’s social status, I like exploring Google Play for latest productivity apps and games. I have found plenty of apps and chrome extensions that have made my professional as well as personal life a little bit more organized and informed in so many ways.

7. Get a virtual assistant

Whether you need to remind yourself to answer emails, pick up milk or pay your bills, having a virtual assistant may not be all that bad an option. To-do lists and time management apps are a boon, so to say. It’s always good to have someone remember these small details for you if you are not all that good at micromanaging you daily calendar.

8. Take a world tour on your desktop

I found this suggestion on a website recently. Google Street View is a super fun app to take a quick tour of any place in the world from, literally, the comforts of your couch. I find that it’s a great tool for looking up vacation destinations or just for catching a break from the monotony of it all.

9. Pick a hobby on Pinterest

I have been an ardent hobbyist all my life and Pinterest has made it all the more pursuable. On a free day, I am most likely to be found browsing Pinterest looking for DIY tips and tricks or browsing through recipe pin boards. It’s a great place to look up information on things you like — from food to fashion to fonts, on how you can improve on them, and even find some new things to like.

10. Blog about your thoughts

I hate to admit it but of all the things I do find time for, I hardly ever find time to process my own thoughts. That’s one of the main reasons why I took up blogging, because somehow I found that I think well when I write (and I write better than I speak). Writing really does help get clarity on thought and at times, that’s the only introspection you need.

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