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How The Internet Can Help You Stop Wasting Time On The Internet

Computer Screens
Computer Screens

When it comes to getting stuff done, it seems we're all in search of assists from technology -- "life hacks" (much to one writer's chagrin) that lead to better, faster and more effortless production.

And while hack-centric tech tools can aid us in our goal of ultimate efficiency, technology is also the exact medium that slows us down. Here's some proof and candor: I have checked Facebook three times as I write this, and I'm not even through with the second graph.

It's not just at work where technology is polarizing. Take, for example, online yoga classes: They give you the freedom to squeeze in some "om's" without the construct of a class schedule, but also make it easier to pick up the phone when it buzzes -- taking you away from a practice that's real purpose is to keep you in the moment. We are distracted -- attempting dozens of things at once while never fully completing a single thing. And as a result, we're frustrated, frazzled and utterly burned out.

Since the web and our favorite devices aren't going anywhere anytime soon, we'll have to develop some coping strategies to avoid the spread-too-thin phenomenon. To help, there are ways to use certain online tools to your advantage. Below are a couple of hacks, if you will, that can take your bad browsing habits and turn them into better ones.

Find yourself spending too much time on "nonsense" sites? Try Nanny for Google Chrome.
This extension for Google Chrome is your virtual babysitter. Nanny keeps your browsing habits in check by allowing you to block particular URLs at certain times of the day. You also have an option to set up time restrictions -- you'll let yourself peruse Buzzfeed (because it wouldn't be fair to completely abstain from all the cuteness), but only for 60 minutes a day. Best of all, this babysitter doesn't charge $10 an hour, nor will it riffle through your fridge -- Nanny is completely free. (Don't use Chrome? Try Anti-Social, a similar, $15 software you can use on other browsers).

Can't keep yourself offline, even on the weekends? Try Mac Freedom (it's compatible for both Windows and Mac).
If Nanny is your babysitter, Mac Freedom is your prison guard. As the app's site puts it, "Freedom enforces freedom; you'll need to reboot if you want to get back online while Freedom's running." The software locks you away from the internet for up to eight hours at a time, so you'll have to go do something offline instead of binge-watching "Orange Is The New Black" on Netflix.

Have 600 tabs open on your browser, each one begging for your attention? Try "controlled multi-tab browsing."
If your browser looks something like the image above, and it feels like you're stuck playing an interminable game of leap frog with your tabs, this app is for you. The Google Chrome extension allows you to put a limit on the number of tabs you can have open in a window at one time. It's a simple idea, but it will keep you from getting distracted and feeling overwhelmed. Plus, whatever you're looking for won't be buried in your tab-apocalypse.

Too much Internet to consume, but not enough hours in the (work) day? Try Pocket.
The internet is a playground -- there's just so much fun to be had. Pocket lets you save "articles, videos or pretty much anything" to read later, during your off hours. When your friend g-chats you that "must-read" Times' op-ed and that list of 1,990 things from the 90s is calling your name, you needn't be distracted from your actual work. Just click "Read later" and indulge on your downtime. This feature will help you cut down those tabs, too.

Know any other hacks to keep your detrimental online habits in check? Tell us in the comments.

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