how I manage time online

by Whitney on December 23, 2010

Especially at this point in the holiday season, many of us with strong ties to the web are searching for greater balance within that relationship. I wrote about my own struggle last week, as did Sofia at Sofia’s Ideas.

From dinner party timelines to chore charts, I always appreciate hearing specific accounts of what works for others. The details serve as a jumping off point to finding what might work for me.

So, in the interest of paying it forward, here is what works for me, now, when it comes to managing time online. For the record, I have a helpful husband who works out of the home. We have a kindergartner, a preschooler, and a toddler.

When I plug in to the web:

Nights (8-12): My night-nursing cosleeper requires me to be in bed pretty early most nights. There are times when I’m working on a big hands-on project and I’ll hand Gosling over to Daddy, but in general, I appreciate the opportunity to slow down. If it weren’t for my sleepy babe, I would probably feel compelled to stay up and tackle another load of laundry, another sweep of the floor. As it is, I get in most of my computer time while she sleeps. If she’s not impeding the use of my arms, I write; if she is, I surf and/or savor. It actually works out to a pretty good balance.

Weekends: If I’m online during the day, it’s usually because my husband’s out with the kids and I’m doing housework. Chores turn into me time with the addition of online media like Hulu and Audible. When I complete my tasks, I feel productive and restored, instead of bitter and drained.

What and how I read:

I don’t blog hop so much as mozy. I visit blogs because I want to, not in the spirit of quid pro quo. I return because they offer something I need right now. With the quickly changing phases of life with small children, that can differ from what I need next month, or next week, even. There are some steadies, mostly of the food and simple living ilk, and I am *always* researching something.

I don’t comment on every post I read, quite the opposite, really. Sometimes I do feel compelled to add to the discussion, others I just want to say “Thanks,” or “Hi, I’m here.” I also make a conscious effort to stop in regularly and give back to the great blogs I leached off during my long no-typing phase. (Not that I mind a quiet readership, but I’m a talker. Devouring entire archives without comment felt so unnatural to me, like having my mouth taped shut.)


I was a smartphone hold-out; I didn’t feel it was a necessity, yet I feared I might get hooked on its charms. As I built this little space, though, I began to see the features as potentially liberating.

I had been a slave to the computer before, and didn’t want to feel rushed to check my email and moderate comments. With my G2 (an Android phone), I don’t have to. In the time it takes to sneak a piece of chocolate (something I’m known to do daily on occasion), I can handle most administrative tasks. I almost exclusively tweet from a parked car.

Of course, there are exceptions.

Some days I’ll pop on to check the weather, ingredient substitutions, or the number for the nearest urgent care facility. Every so often my littlest and I will curl up midday, and I’ll veg with a good read while she naps. Some nights I’m really worn out and crash before ten. My ultimate goal is to do what feels right, and never to push myself so far that I am not at my best for my kids. Sometimes I cross that line, but not often, and I usually catch myself justthatside of it. Overall, this routine does work for me. If you’re still searching for your own digital balance, I hope the field narrows soon.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sofia's Ideas January 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Whitney, thanks for this mention! :)

I agree with you whole-heartedly about different seasons, and adjusting along… with a new lil’ lovie on the way, and knowing that he or she will also be co-sleeping & nursing like the ones that came before, I can see myself doing the same! :)


Whitney January 11, 2011 at 12:01 am

Of course, Sofia! We’re definitely on a similar path. Best of luck with the new baby transition–I find that especially in those early months, as soon as I get into a groove, the game changes. I hope it is nothing but smooth sailing for you!


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