shutterstock_129641315How much time per day do you spend online? Of course, this varies greatly, depending on the type of work you do, your interest in various sites, and that sort of thing. It’s different for everyone. Perhaps the question should be, “How much time do you waste online?”. The answer, if you’re anything like me, is probably “a lot more than I should.”

The truth is, there are so many distractions these days that it’s hard not to end up down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos and status updates. But all of this distraction is eating away at not only our productivity at work, but our creativity in the rest of our lives.

Studies have shown that 90% of the content contributed online is created by around 10% of the people. That means a lot of us are just passively consuming, and not really contributing anything new. But even those of us that are contributing on a regular basis are not necessarily that prolific. I know I haven’t been contributing as much. Perhaps that’s partly because I was busy finishing and releasing my book, but I know that there’s a part of me that still spends too much time watching cat videos.

I just finished reading James Altucher’s book, “Choose Yourself”. It’s a wonderful read and it has caused me to re-think a lot about how I’m using my time. He talks about getting caught in “the loop” – you know the one – wake up, get coffee, check email, check Twitter, check Facebook, check blog stats, check email, check Facebook…before you know it, an hour has gone by and what have you really accomplished? Zip.

In the past few weeks I’ve been paying a lot more attention to how I’m spending all of my time, not just online time. I’ve decided to watch much less TV – maybe just a show or two a week, and maybe a movie. The time I’m not spending watching TV, I’m reading books and insightful articles, writing, and getting out for more walks. I can already feel that my brain is happier.

I’m avoiding the loop, by not checking email first thing in the morning, and by spending time over breakfast reading, coming up with ideas or just sitting quietly and enjoying the peace.

I’m shutting down distractions like email and Facebook while I work, and I’ve found that I have a lot more time for serious thinking and contemplation. It’s allowed me to come up with some great new ideas for our business and be really focused on how we are going to implement them.

I’m also sleeping more, and that is allowing my brain to be a lot more energized during the day. 8-9 hours a night is my sweet spot, and I’ve learned it’s vitally important to my success and well-being.

Our time is a precious commodity – we only have 24 hours in our day. If we use up too much of that time on mindless things like reality TV and Facebook games, what do we have left?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have down time. I’m highly in favour of spending time with friends, reading a trashy novel on the beach, or even watching an episode of Pawn Stars occasionally to unwind. I’ve learned it’s a delicate balance, and for me, I’m happiest when my brain is doing things that inspire and motivate me.

I encourage you to take a good long look at how you’re spending your time each day. Are you doing things each day that get you closer to your goals? Or are you whittling away what precious time you do have on things that may not be getting you anywhere?