Think back to when you were a child taking music, sports or dance lessons and your mother made you practice for 20 minutes a day. Well, you’re an adult now and your mother’s not there to force you to practice. You’re responsible for setting your own priorities. Thanks to the billions of dollars Facebook deploys to keep you coming back, you are prioritizing the dopamine hits you get from checking social media over meeting your long-term learning goals.
So what are your long term goals that you feel you never have time for? Perhaps you want to learn a new language or musical instrument. Maybe you want to have time to practice that instrument you played as a child.
Let’s do a quick experiment together. Write down how many times you think you check your phone every day. Now write down how much time you think you spend on your phone on an average day. Now check your screen time app, or digital well-being on android, to find out your actual numbers. For most people it’s 3 to 4 times the amount they estimated. Were you surprised?
Now let’s break down the math here. If you checked your phone 80 times in a 16 hour day, that’s five times an hour or every twelve minutes. Perhaps you’re closer to the average millennial and you checked your phone 150 times, or every 6.4 minutes. Is it any wonder you feel like you can’t get anything done?
So how can we use all this time online to our benefit? There are dozens of good apps that will help you learn a language in 10 to 20 minutes a day. Popular apps are duolingo and Drops. Learning a new language could benefit you in your career or for your next trip abroad. Even if all you learn to say is, “dos cervezas, por favor.”
There are also YouTube videos that will teach you to play any instrument from accordion to zither. Musical training has many benefits in both children and adults. Most applicable to this post are that it improves your problem solving abilities and reduces feelings of stress and depression.
Learning a new language or instrument is a way you can use the Internet as the positive tool Tim Berners Lee intended it to be at its invention thirty years ago. Just be sure to turn off the auto play feature that YouTube sets to on by default and be careful not to fall victim to the clickbait waiting to pull you down a rabbit hole.
Remember, your free time is worth way more to you than the 13 cents an hour you give it away for.