5 ways I stay sane online

I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. I’ve learned so much from wise people who publish online, a lot of our schooling is digital, we buy a lot of what we need via the Internet, and we keep up with friends and family through our screens as we travel. And of course, work online, too.

But it doesn’t take much for the Internet to overwhelm me. As a Highly Sensitive Person, I can actually feel my eyes hurting and my brain fritzing a bit when I’m on the screen too much. Or even just a little. I also get overwhelmed when there’s too much information all at once (email, Facebook, Twitter, and the like.).

But seeing as I do love the Internet and its many merits, I’m continually on the lookout for ways to reap its benefits while minimizing its pitfalls. Here are some tools and tips that help me at the moment.

1. Pocket

I don’t want to spend needless time on places like Facebook, but I do find good stuff from my friends there (it’s where a lot of my cuppa reads are birthed). Pocket is an app that provides a bookmarklet (it looks like a pocket) that simply stores stuff you want to read later. You click on it, and done—it’s in your folder to read whenever it’s convenient for you. You can tag and organize your finds, too.


The best part is that it syncs across your devices, so if you save something on your laptop, you can pull it up later to read on your phone.

2. Unroll

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Unroll has saved my email inbox from utter insanity. You sync your email account to Unroll, then it scans your account and collects your subscriptions (even though it’s technically illegal, I get signed up for a TON of subscriptions without my permission—I’m looking at you, PR reps). When you first register, you scroll through all your subscriptions and either unsubscribe with one click, choose to keep your email in your inbox, or roll it in to your Unroll account.

Then, once a day (or however you set up your account), it’ll send you one email with all your subscriptions for you to peruse collectively (the ones you added to your rollup). It’ll also notify you of new auto-subscribes (why on earth do I get so many?) so that you can repeat the process above.

I love having just one email with all my subscriptions in one place:

My inbox is much cleaner, and since I put everything I want to see in my rollup, I don’t even bother with any mass email in my inbox.

3. Boomerang

You can add Boomerang to your Gmail account via Firefox, Safari, or Chrome, and it allows you to send your email later. This is convenient whenever you have a weekend afternoon to spare for work, but you don’t want it to look like you’re working on the weekend—you simply boomerang your email to send on Monday morning (or whenever). It’s also handy when you want to space out your correspondence but still reply when it’s convenient for you.


An app like Boomerang allows me to work when it works for me, regardless whether it’s traditional work hours (especially convenient when you’re traveling across multiple timezones).

4. Feedly

I started reading blogs again this past fall—I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Feedly has been my RSS reader of choice ever since the demise of Google Reader. It’s clean, easy to read, and convenient to categorize.


I have a folder for my daily reads (for about 5 blogs), followed by a folder for friends, AoS contributors, paleo blogs, DIY/creative, homeschool, travel, business and work blogs, blogs I own, and news. “Daily” is misleading—I read that one several times a week, tops, and the other folders I read whenever I’m in the mood or have time. (From the screenshot, it’s obviously been awhile.)

5. Clearly from Evernote

This is probably my favorite app ever. I use Evernote to collect quotes, statistics, and general information I want to use in my books and blog posts, but this isn’t the main reason I use Clearly. I love this app because it turns online articles from looking like this:


To this:


Clean, no? With one click of the bookmarklet, it swipes away the clutter and questionable font choices and makes anything a million times easier to read. Another added feature: you can highlight different bits of an article, which is then automatically clipped in to your Evernote account.

I read almost everything after I click on Clearly. It keeps. my. brain. sane. It’s a godsend for me.

There are a few other best practices that help with my Internet sanity—stuff like opening email only twice a day and not kowtowing to the “inbox zero” trend (I had to stop caring), removing the Facebook app from my phone when we’re not traveling, reading Twitter via lists instead of my main stream, and practicing a weekly screen sabbath.

Useful, free tools to make the internet a saner, happier place

Lots of you have asked, so this is my short list of favorite tips. But it’s always evolving depending on my situation, so I’d love you to share your favorite tools and tips in the comments. Enlighten me! (If you’re reading via email or RSS, head here.)

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