1. Use Instapaper
Instapaper is an app that lets you save that #longread about the future of podcasting — the article that you really want to give a chance, but can’t right now because you’re hanging out with your roommates and need to somewhat contribute to the conversation about how Chris Pratt probably wouldn’t be a dick if you met him in person.
Save the articles you actually want to read. Then, when Sunday morning comes around and you need to feel sophisticated and New York Timesy, hit up your instapaper queue. You’ll feel like the pseudo-intellectual you’ve always dreamed of being.
2. Take .1 Seconds To Think Before You Click
Yesterday, a “news” story of Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey** was making the rounds. Because I am weak, I clicked on multiple articles chronicling the “story” of how Brad Pitt and McConaughey reside next to each other in New Orleans, and how Brad Pitt threw McConaughey a beer, and how that was so cool because one day we’re all gonna die.
Point being: the next time you see a story about how cool it is that two celebrities went to a field and realized they were both huge fans of picking — and then bottling up — individual blades of grass, take .1 seconds to think if the click is really worth your time.*
*I think in that case, it clearly would be.
**Did you click? It’s hard, right?
3. Be Invisible In Chat
Observing the world from your impregnable perch ensures that any and all gchat distractions will come from you.
Slightly dickish, but the RONHTWPYTV (Return On Not Having To Watch Pointless YouTube Videos) is enormous.
4. Avoid Endless Netflix Browsing By Making A Movie Queue
Use the notepad on your phone (or if you dare, a normal notepad), and create a list of movies you’ve been meaning to see — you could build this up gradually by adding things like The Normal Heart to your list while logging into to your parent’s HBOGO to watch this week’s Game of Thrones.
Browsing is nice, but scrolling over Jiro Dreams Of Sushi 42 times in 17 minutes is not exactly necessary.
5. Tinder On The Toilet
Think as a society, we’ve got this one down — Tinder on the Toilet, Candy Crush while taking public transportation, text while trying to get out of a terrible conversation.
Use phones to fill dead time, not waste alive time.
6. Follow The Pomodoro Technique
My most startuppy friend — the one who would probably fit in decently well on Silicon Valley — recommended me this technique. The technique is based on a theory that says because you’re only able to focus on one thing for X amount of time, it’s best to chunk your time out through intervals; meaning, spend 25 minutes on Activity A, take a 5 minute break and pursue activity B, then spend 25 more minutes on Activity A.
I often use this handy timer. I’d encourage you try it out — even if it’s not for you, it’s something you could talk about to fill awkward voids at a happy hour.
7. Do Something Else Before Commenting
Mr. Rob Fee recently put together a handy guide of how to handle internet outrage. It’s pretty good. It’s always good to keep in mind that when you leave the internet, there’s probably about 4 other people who have any idea what you’re talking about.
If you feel the same way upon returning, you’ve earned the privilege* of commenting away.
*My bad for using a curse word.
8. Less Give, Less Take
Social media nowadays has become little more than obligation — particularly on networks like instagram, where not liking a good friend’s picture is equivalent to showing up to their birthday party, throwing a stinkbomb, ruffling your Letterman jacket, and then telling everyone else to go to a cooler party.
The less you post, the less time you have to spend sifting through pictures of smoothies and wondering whether or not it’d be bad form not to throw it a like.
9. You Already Know How Awesome Peter Dinklage Is. Do You Really Need To Read About It Again?
“Brown-Nose Content” is very hot right now — articles and teasers that take the form of popular opinion for no reason other than for you to (literally) like them.
If the best thing an article has to offer is something you already know, you don’t not need that article.
10. Catch (and Cue) Yourself
When you’re scrolling down on Facebook and see things you’ve already seen, train yourself to ask yourself some variation of these questions — is being on here what I want to be doing right now? Is this the best use of my time? Should I be investing so much time in the health status of Danielle from high school’s pet hampster?
Sometimes, the answer will be yes — perhaps there’s 10 minutes left before you could leave work without looking terrible, in which case you simply need to fill dead time. But most of the time, the answer will be no. And when that happens, the best course of action is to shut your laptop, take a deep breath, and experience that existential emptiness that makes this particularly clip so powerful:
If you’re particularly brave, you could even try — gulp — going outside. Not that I’ve ever done this, but definitely would like to give it a try.