When there’s no last page online, how do you find The End?

May 19, 2008 by Jared Goralnick

Google search for the endSome books feel like they’ll never end, but they all have a last page. The web never ends. Finality is elusive when there’s always another link to click and mailbox to check. And the more social and prolific you become, the worse the predicament.

Today I want to offer you some limits–some that have helped me and others with which I still struggle. Monitors may get lighter and cheaper every year, but the weight and toll of the backlit universe they materialize has grown out of control. It’s time to get away.

Step Off The Treadmill

hamster treadmill PC

I was never one for treadmills–I’ll run outside through 100 degree heat or a foot of snow–because at least in nature I feel I’m getting somewhere.

Take a moment to consider which of your online activities are getting you somewhere. They may be concrete goals or pleasurable escapes, but consider:

  • Where are you having the most fun? What feels the most like a chore?
  • Where are you building relationships? Where have you struggled to find community?
  • Who do you interact with that gives back? Who bugs you with unreciprocated efforts and unanswered emails?

If you spend a lot of time online, some of it feels productive and much of it’s fun, but most likely some things gets you down or suck away your time. Walk away from those websites, people, and networks.

Note: This isn’t random gospel–there are many people who irritated me and websites I wanted to hold onto. Rather than debate or dwell I’ve walked away and soon forgotten them. It’s the best thing I’ve done online–not only does it give me back time, but it removes anxiety.

Set Your Limits

You are not going to suddenly have less work. You are not going to magically read twice as fast. And, I’m guessing that catching up on email and articles for six hours isn’t your favorite way to spend a Saturday.


  • Set yourself a time when you’re going to do online stuff and when you’re going to do work stuff. Observe it. Turn off your computer
  • Keep your internet notifications and subscriptions separate from the stuff you have to do (programs, email accounts, web browsers, computers…whatever it takes to keep you away)
  • Resist the temptation of clicking links in the articles you’re reading–enticing as they may be, they’re going to take more of your time. Or if you’re interested in discovering things, bookmark those for another time and revisit when other activities aren’t competing for your attention
  • Trim your RSS feeds, especially those you no longer get much value from. If you’re adding a feed a day (mine is here ;-), you should be purging an equal number at the end of the week

Hack. Skim. Cut Corners

You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. But you can stick your finger in the frosting, freeze it for later, or find alternate desserts that are much healthier.

  • When you’re busy, just read the article title and two sentences. If you’re not interested yet, move on
  • Just read the headings, bold, the first and last sentences of paragraphs, and the last two paragraphs of each article
  • Look into speed reading

Or, much better yet: unsubscribe, ignore, block, give up and walk away

To Recap:

Set limits for yourself, and don’t try to accomplish more on your computer than you have before. If you don’t take a stance against your internet life, it will become your life. Believe me, you don’t want that.

Other ideas?

If you liked this article, it would be super cool if you’d subscribe to Technotheory via RSS or email. In the mean time, here are some similar articles:

You should really subscribe to Technotheory via Subcribe via email email or rss.

4 Responses to “When there’s no last page online, how do you find The End?”


  1. John

    Excellent article. I find that I have to trim the fat every once in a while and it helps me tremendously.

  2. Jake Brewer

    Great piece, Jared. I love the Google graphic to kick things off.

    Completely agree: we all need to be better at implementing the sanity saving process of getting up and walking away. While often extraordinarily difficult to do, it’s also often the best possible action.

  3. Jared Goralnick

    Thanks, Jake! I’m amazed you have time for the internet at all when you spend so much time out evangelizing Idealist and spreading social entrepreneurship. Keep up the good work yourself!

Impart Your Theoretically Interesting Wisdom

Your Comments