It’s 2019, and virtually everybody knows how to use the Internet, right?
While this is largely the case, the fact is, some people do it better.
Sure, you can use the Internet very simply: checking email, streaming video, and reading the news. But if you’re a super savvy user, you can truly make the best of this incredible resource, maximising your efficiency, enjoyment, and benefits.
We examined the habits of these so-called “highly effective Internet users” to see just what it is they’re doing differently. The answers are fairly straightforward, and best of all, these are habits you can easily adopt yourself. Want to become an absolute pro at Internet utilisation? Read on to discover the 8 habits of highly effective Internet users.
1. They know how to expertly use search engines
Ask anyone about the best way to find information these days, and chances are pretty good that they’ll mention Google. There are definitely other search engines out there, but Google retains a place of honour amongst them all. Who hasn’t heard of Google?!
It’s simple enough to perform web searches: you type in what you’re looking for and Google delivers the most relevant results within milliseconds. Most of the time, with its genius algorithms, Google gets it right, bringing you accurate, helpful results.
But highly effective Internet users know that you can use search even more savvily.
These users know that to search expertly, you must be specific. There are many ways to do this. Adding more keywords is the simplest fix. Write longer descriptions of what you’re searching for. This helps your search results become narrower and more targeted. For instance, searching for “women’s dresses” will bring you millions of pages, but the types of dresses and the stores featured might not be precisely what you’re looking for. To get more targeted results, you might consider typing something like “women’s floral print dresses plus size.”
You’re not necessarily going to use natural language when doing a Google search, either. Eliminate unnecessary stop words and search for the essentials: basically the keywords themselves.
There are several other ways to get more accurate results and search like a pro. You can narrow your search base dramatically by searching only a specific website. To do this, type into Google’s search bar site: followed by the website you want to search. For example, site: www.southernphone.com.au "mobile phone packages."
Going further, perhaps you only want to find only results from sites that have a specific word included in their URL? Here’s another shortcut to use: in:url. Placed before your given search term, what you’d type into Google would look something like this:in:url balloons.
Finally, you can use Google to search for more than just websites. Google index other types of files as well, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations. These are items that often have a different focus or intent than online articles or websites, so it could be useful for you to search for them specifically.
To do so use this command: filetype:(type) and replacing (type) with the extension for the file type you’re searching for such as PDF or PowerPoint. Want to search PowerPoint presentations on social anxiety? Your search query would be typed as: filetype: (ppt) social anxiety.
2. They’re purposeful about their time spent on the Internet
Expert web surfers are those who know how to make the best use of their time. Unfortunately, we all know too well how easy it is to waste time on the web. The Internet presents an endless array of interesting, entertaining content. Social media and infotainment sites are extremely good at pulling a web user’s attention away. If you use the Internet for work, this can be bad news for your productivity.
The smartest, savviest web users have discovered ways to avoid these sites. While working on your productivity and focus is beneficial, sometimes, the easiest thing to do is to block the offending sites outright. There are apps, browser extensions, and other services that can help you do exactly that. Whether you choose to block all social media or pick and choose, these resources may prove effective.
You don’t necessarily have to block websites and platforms, either. Many Internet users simply take steps to become aware of how much time they’re spending on social media and the Internet and then make changes to better use that time. Here’s a list of apps that can help you monitor your time.
3. They’ve discovered how to maximise their efficiency online
Once distractions are waylaid, the next step is making your time online even more efficient! How to do this? By using the Internet’s many resources to help you. In other words, make the web work for you!
This applies to online businesses, entrepreneurs, bloggers, or even those who only use the Internet for personal matters. No matter what you use the Internet for, being more efficient has a positive impact.
Using a smart speaker could be one way to do this. Asking Alexa to place an order for your favourite coffee, for instance, takes mere seconds (after the initial skill setup on the smart speaker). Rather than needing to grab a device, log in and complete a purchase, using your digital assistant streamlines the process dramatically and shaves minutes off of a chore.
Another secret of highly effective Internet users is to make tools like smart speakers do double duty. In other words, you can kill two birds with one stone. The perfect example of this is IFTTT, an inventive way to get your devices working together and “talking to each other.” IFTTT allows you to set up digital ‘applets’, using the basic premise “if this, then that,” and the possibilities are endless.
Here are just a few of the existing IFTTT applets:
Sync Alexa with your iOS to-dos and reminders
When you post a photo to Instagram, save it to Dropbox
When making a call on your Android phone, a log of that call is added to a Google spreadsheet
Plus a bunch that work with your smart home devices.
Get a notification when your smart washing machine is done
When your pizza delivery arrives, turn on the porch light
When your mobile phone alarm goes off, start the coffee brewing
With the abilities of IFTTT, it could be that highly effective Internet users are those that really embrace smart devices the growing Internet of Things.
4. They’ve streamlined their inboxes
One massive destroyer of productivity is the email inbox. Countless studies and surveys demonstrate time and again how checking our email throughout the day can throttle productivity, causing distraction, procrastination, and even excess stress.
There are several approaches to checking email that can make the experience better. Some individuals choose to only check their inbox at given times, making a point to respond to emails right away so as to leave nothing hanging over their head. Others choose to avoid their work inbox during off-work hours. This can be extremely helpful if you’re the type that finds you ‘take work home with you.’ Separating your tasks and designating specific times for something like email is an excellent way to increase your productivity. (It’s definitely better than multitasking).
But no matter your strategy, you need a streamlined system of email. Spending some time organising your email inbox, you could transform your entire experience of the virtual post box. This includes options like setting up filters, creating labels to help you find things more quickly, and automatically archiving old messages.
If you don’t have Gmail, or you’re simply looking for a way to achieve ‘Inbox Zero,’ there is a wealth of resources across the web for implementing better organisation and structure in your inbox. When you have this in place, checking email becomes a breeze and your inbox is no longer weighed down with unanswered messages and lost replies.
5. They keep their devices updated and in top shape
The most highly effective web users don’t necessarily own the latest gadgets and most expensive smartphones. But savvy folks know that you can best use the Internet with a compatible, up-to-date, well-maintained device.
This doesn’t just mean keeping on top of physical repairs, but with taking the right precautions and actions to protect your Internet-ready devices.
Your smartphone should have a solid case and screen protector to prevent damage. For those with high-end devices, insurance is a strong suggestion.
Learning the prime methods for charging a phone is key, too. There’s actually more to charging a device than you think, and doing it correctly will lengthen the life of the device. Do you know how often to charge? What percentage you should keep the battery charged to?
Don’t forget about virus protection either. All of your devices need some kind of software to keep them safe from hackers and malware. Learn about common Internet scams to keep your device (and your personal information) out of harm’s way.
6. They shop smart
In Australia alone, online shopping grew by 10% in 2017. And it is rising globally, as well. Wise web users know that there are a lot of benefits to shopping online, but in particular, they are aware of a few tricks of the trade that take their online purchasing to the next level.
Buying plane tickets? Experts suggest searching in incognito mode. This prevents your browser from using cookies, and keeps the prices from rising as you search. Tricky, hey? Incognito mode is ideal for helping you nab the best rates on something that frequently experiences price fluctuations.
Also, a terrific idea is the use of money saving apps. There are numerous ways to save money, budget better, and even earn cash back on your purchases. It’s all happening in the world of apps. This list of money saving apps for Australians could be perfect for helping you become a savvy saver (and a highly effective user of the Internet).
7. They make good use of the cloud
Using the Internet? You’re probably utilising the cloud in some way. If you aren’t, this is another habit to work towards. The cloud is, essentially, the digital space where you can store files. There are limits on hardware, particularly on the items we own in our households, so the cloud grants us additional storage space, with the added protection of being extra secure. You can access the cloud from any device, too, which makes it versatile and efficient.
Expert web users make good use of the cloud, using various services to access it. Dropbox is one such well-known cloud service, which offers users space to remotely store files, photos, and the like. For an affordable rate, users can securely keep a significant amount of data stored. And Dropbox is only one of the thousands of such services.
The cloud does more than just provide safe-keeping for files, too. You might be surprised at just how much the cloud is used in your everyday Internet surfing.
8. They’ve adapted and they keep adapting
Finally, the strongest habit of highly effective Internet users is simply this: they adapt.
The online world is constantly changing, but savvy folk know that rolling with these changes and making the most of them is key.
While you don’t necessarily need to adopt the newest or most disruptive technologies, it’s good to cautiously trust and jump on board with new services and products.
These types of users take advantage of websites like Fiverr, where you can find freelancers to do tasks like web design, content writing, and more. Not only is it super easy to connect with these workers, but Fiverr is built upon offering incredibly low prices.
The Internet also gave rise to services like Uber, which have truly revolutionised transport and travel. And there are thousands upon thousands of apps appearing all the time, with fresh, new ideas that make our lives better, easier, and more interesting.
If you want to be an expert Internet user, you’ll want to open your mind to this growth, and continue to do so. Being adaptable is definitely a habit you’ll want to bring into your life.