Let’s talk about time. Specifically English time (the time you spend each day on English)

How much time do you think you spend each day browsing the net, reading blogs, scanning news sites, watching videos, commenting on other’s comments about… whatever?

One recent poll found that the average person spends 13 hours online per week, excluding e-mail. That’s a lot! (and that doesn’t even include time wasted on television)

What about your English time? Do you find at least 20 minutes a day to practice? Probably not. And Facebook? Definitely at least 20 minutes for Facebook.

We’ve become content vacuums, constantly sucking up thousands of images, videos, opinions, and other visual and audio content into our brains.

Do you ever step back to think how much time you spend in front of a screen? Are there negative consequences to this flood of information? Is there a limit to how much we can consume?

Personally, I often used to feel overloaded from all the online content in front of me. I would try to read a little bit of everything that seemed interesting. I felt anxious if I wasn’t staying up-to-date on all the latest news, wasn’t watching all the latest episodes of my shows, and wasn’t learning enough interesting, new stuff every day.

Now, I’m not saying that learning new things and always trying to expand your mind is a bad thing, but I wonder how much can really be learned when there is so much on the mind at one time. Is it really beneficial to spend every day just taking in little tidbits of information? And now we know all this junk can cause  more stress in my life.

The Facts

Researches have been looking into this very issue and have discovered that “information overload can make people feel anxious and powerless. They have discovered that multi-taskers produce more stress hormones.”

Too much info=more stress.

Also, content overload can hurt your creativity. Distractions and trying to do multiple things at once can reduce creativity. Focus and creativity are connected. People are more likely to be creative if they are allowed to focus on something for a long time without interruptions.

Too many distractions=less creative

So what can you do?

Try to spend a week limiting what you watch and read. After this “test” week, see if your productivity has increased, and if you notice any changes in your mood.

What to limit:

1) Stop watching the news! It’s 90% negative and I see no reason why you need to know about all the people who were shot, robbed, killed, or arrested in the last few days.  I don’t see any benefit to this. You might think that without watching the news disastrous world events will happen without you knowing about it, putting your life at risk, but I’m pretty sure life will go on with or without you knowing about it, and if there’s anything life threatening you will be informed about it unless you live in a cave.

2) When online, schedule Facebook for specific times in your day, preferably at the end of it. Facebook is a wizard at a wasting your time and I know very well how distracting it can be.

Another trick, after you open Facebook close it right away if you have no new red notification balls. Don’t look at your first post, it’s a killer!

3) In your free-time, focus on a couple topics of interest per week, and only search content about these topics.

Consider which areas could best benefit your life at this moment. Which 1 to 2 topics will make the biggest impact on your growth now? Write these two topics down in your schedule everyday, and save the other stuff for later.

Applying your “content diet” to English

For most English students it’s hard to find even 20 minutes during their day for English practice. Between work, school and home life, their day is jammed packed. When they’re finally finished with everything for the day the last thing they want to do is study.

However, training your English just 20 minutes every day can make a huge difference in your progress. Consistency is way more important than duration! It is one of the biggest keys to success in English.

Taking advantage of all the extra time you’ll have during this 5 day information diet, you can now devote some consistent practice time to English. Instead of reading about all the tragedies of the day or trying to attend to all of your friends’ cries for attention, commit each day to filling your free time with an English article or audio lesson. After all, every minute spent will help you move towards your goal of becoming an English master! (nobody will ever be a Master of Facebook, though we often try.)

After weaning yourself off your daily news fix, and realizing how futile it is trying to know about everything and everybody online, you’ll free up valuable English time and start creating the study habits you need.

Comments, questions, or disagreements? Please leave them below.

Thanks for your (valuable) time