Ever find yourself in a digital rut? Feeling like Pavlov’s dog waiting for the Facebook bell to ring?

Pavlov's
Pavlov’s “Big Dog.” Click for the Smithsonian article about the dogs used by physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov.

I’ve been looking for some alternatives to digging a digital rut. Less surfing and more custom delivery. Much less “Google chose this for me” or “Pinterest recommends that.” And, yes, I know that I also need to walk away from my devices (see below).

Topical news alerts

I’ve started using Google alerts to learn when ukulele and vintage-inspired sewing stories appear, as well as when my business or my clients are in the news. I get a digest of stories once a day that shows if, when, and where my interests are mentioned. Why settle for a generic news feed, when you can customize your own? Think your interests are obscure? Think again!

Speedy delivery via RSS feeds

The other day I stumbled on an RSS feed for the Bluffton Icon’s classified ads. I’ve known about RSS feeds, but didn’t get interested until it hit me: “I can have garage sale ads delivered to my inbox!” Have a favorite writer you follow? With RSS, you don’t have to remember to look for blogs and columns. There are many different RSS readers, but I use my email application.

What is Twitter good for?

Hey, pigs aren’t flying and I’m using Twitter! I told a friend (and tech guru) that I needed to get on board with Twitter as a matter of professional competency. He suggested that I try following others and not worry about tweeting. I’ve since learned that Twitter has its own advantages, especially for exploring new interests. Try following businesses and individuals who are influential in your field, and find out who they follow.

The voice of reason

My computer now tells me the time aloud: “It’s eight-fifteen.” That’s my reminder that time does not stand still when I’m plugged in and that I should get up, walk around the block, or do something to get the blood flowing to my brain. It’s my own HAL 9000: “I’m sorry, Paula, I can’t let you work/surf any more.” The only problem is that my family hates the voice and I sometimes turn it off to please them.

hal9000
HAL breaks the bad news to Dave in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

So, can technology keep me from wasting precious time wandering the web? “I’m sorry, Paula, I can’t let you log off….”

Do you have favorite methods for customizing your digital experience? I’d love to hear from you on this topic or on other issues related to solopreneuring, writing and editing, and more. Thanks for reading!