My last blog post for Harvard Business Review offered 10 reasons to stop apologizing for your life online. It’s a challenge to the gathering chorus of voices saying that the Internet is making us shallow and it’s time for us to unplug.

I argue that unplugging — finding some off switch — is an awfully blunt way of dealing with the challenges we face online. Instead, we can reconfigure the Internet experience to be online with integrity and purpose.

The first, most important step in this is to throw out the false dichotomy between online and “real” life, and instead focus on the ways we can make our online lives real and meaningful.

I suggested 10 ways to do that, one of which was:

When you treat your online attention as a real resource, you invest your attention in the sites that reflect your values, helping those sites grow.

I learned that lesson in my earliest days as a blogger, when I wrote a blog post that made fun of Condoleezza Rice. I jokingly suggested that her Ph.D. should be revoked for egregious violations of academic standards of empiricism. When my blog post made it onto the radar of a major Republican blogger, all hell rained down on my head as dozens of Republicans took the time to drop by my blog and point out that I was what was wrong with the liberal-controlled academy.

As a newbie blogger, I found the vitriol incredibly demoralizing, but I soon discovered some consolation: all the blog posts decrying my liberal snobbery linked to my blog, making me much more visible on Google. My blog traffic went way up, and most of the people who found me were techies and progressives, not conservative activists.

My Republican critics would have done well to remember the first law of the online jungle: attention is the currency of the Internet. When you pay attention to someone or something online — by viewing it, by commenting on it, by linking to it — you help to legitimize it in a palpable way. You help it to attract more attention, traffic, and ad revenue. This of course is often the opposite of what a critic is trying to do. By paying attention to me, the conservative blogosphere amplified a voice that it hoped to drown out.

In contrast, look at what happens when people direct their attention to what they like or want more from. Companies that focus on thanking people for positive feedback, rather than defending themselves against online criticism, develop strong online fan bases. Nonprofits that reach out to their supporters expand their network of support. People who focus on their closest friends have more satisfying online relationships.

Giving this kind of attention helps the Internet become the kind of online world we’d like to see. And it means that we’ll spend time in those parts of the Internet that reflect our own values. We’ll spend our time online from a place of integrity. And we’ll experience our time online as an authentic reflection of who we really are.

How can you best spend the currency of your own attention online? Here are 6 practices to cultivate:

Set your intention. Make a list of your core values: the principles that define the way you want to relate to other people and the world. If it’s a long list, focus on the top five. Next to each principle, write down the sites you visit or activities you do online that you feel reflect those values. If you have important values that aren’t in any way reflected in how you spend your time online — maybe something like, “healthy body, healthy mind” — think about ways of incorporating that principle into your online activities. It could mean compiling an online library of healthy recipes, joining an online community to help you quit smoking or simply setting an hourly alert in your online calendar that reminds you to step away from the computer and spend a few minutes stretching.

Audit your history. It’s easy to delude yourself into thinking that your time online is an automatic reflection of your priorities. After all, aren’t you the person holding the mouse? But most of us fall prey to unconscious clicking all too often, and before we know it, our online time reflects the id more than the ego. Look at your browser history to see where all that time really went. How many of the sites you visited yesterday reflect the values in your list? If the alignment is weak or sporadic, it’s time to reallocate your attention online.

Multiply by a million. As you’re surfing the web or posting content online, imagine what it would look like if a million people were doing exactly what you’re doing. Would you like an Internet in which 10% of our total bandwidth and attention went to Farmville? If you’re playing Farmville for half an hour out of your five hours a day online, that’s what you’re voting for. What would the Internet do for us as a species if we spent 10 percent of our online time reaching out to close friends? Looking at art? Learning how to build our own furniture? Asking questions like these will help you treat your attention as a limited resource.

Make an attention budget. If significant amounts of your time online are devoted to sites and activities that feel less than ennobling, that may be due to professional commitments or social relationships that keep your online time and attention tied up. By changing where you spend your online attention, you can better align your personal and professional life with your values. But you can’t wait for that to happen organically. Create an attention budget that commits you to spending a certain amount of your online attention — it can be as little as 10 minutes a day — on people, sites, and conversations that really reflect the kind of online world you’d like to live in. Increase that budget every week, and you’ll gradually bring your online time into alignment with your values.

Mind your registrations. Not all attention is equal. You’re worth less to a web site when you browse privately or refuse cookies (though that will make it tough to access many sites), because sites can’t tell advertisers as much about the value of your attention. You’re worth more to sites if you register, provide an e-mail address or leave a comment. So if you are indulging yourself with a visit to a less noble site online, give them less value by refusing to sign up or contribute. The more you participate, the more you enrich that celebrity gossip site with access to your valuable marketing data and revenue.

Save yourself. Tools like RescueTime and StayFocusd can track your time with extreme precision to help you block distractions according to rules that you set up. Define “distraction” as whatever keeps you from living up to your highest standards, and use tools to help you avoid distractions. There’s no shortage of tools, even parental controls on browsers, that will help you stay focused.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” That Annie Dillard quote applies as much to our time online as our time offline. When you direct your attention towards the sites that reflect your values, you’re not only shaping the Internet: you’re also shaping your own life online.