We use the internet for everything. We use it to check the weather, watch a movie, text a friend, check Facebook, and even use services like Zoom to conduct online business meetings. Given that there are so many uses for the Internet, is there a way to be more productive when using the Internet?
You can be extremely productive when using the Internet, but only if you consistently maintain discipline when using it. Writing down your objective, and refusing to follow rabbit trails, while at the same time, turning off social media notifications will significantly increase your productivity while using the Internet.
In an attempt to help you become more productive when using the internet, we are going to discuss several things that you can do right now to become more productive on the Internet, but first let’s take a look at what we are up against.
The Internet Never Sleeps
The Internet is fun. Let’s admit it. We can stay in touch with our friends and family by text, Facebook and Zoom. We can watch movies, television, and even stream live content. Frankly, we don’t even need cable television anymore. The internet has it all.
The internet allows us to do everything from reserving a specific seat in a movie theater, to banking online. I can literally do all of my grocery shopping online and even have my groceries delivered to my house for me. Heck, the internet even allows me to work from home.
The Internet is Available 24/7
We live in a world where we can easily access any information at any time. We access the internet when we first wake up in the morning, and just before going to bed at night. Like New York, the internet never sleeps.
Let’s be honest, sometimes the internet calls out to us when we least expect it. It whispers, “Check the scores”, “What’s on YouTube?”, “Did anybody respond to your Facebook post?” It can be hard to avoid these requests, especially if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night.
The Internet is Everywhere
The worst of it is how easily we can access the internet. You can access the internet on any computer, tablet or cell phone. We access the internet when waiting in line at a traffic light, or in the checkout line at the grocery store, and even when using the bathroom facilities. Unfortunately, we even access the internet during a bathroom break in the middle of the night. That is the worst. Once you start, it’s hard to stop, and you find that you can’t go back to sleep.
Access to Information is Nothing New
This is not a new problem. Before the Internet, it was cable television. Before cable tv, it was radio. Before radio, it was newspapers and the public library. Do you notice a common theme here? Our society is addicted to information and entertainment. If not kept in check, the internet can become very distracting.
The Internet Does Not Have to be Distracting
The Internet can be very distracting, but it does not have to be. There are a few things (actually 4 things that we are going to cover), you can do to limit the distraction and ensure that you are very productive when using the internet. As with all things in life, you need balance, so let’s take a look at some things that you can do to ensure that you maintain that balance.
As mentioned earlier I have 4 things that you can do right now to be more productive while using the Internet. Of course, there may be more things that you can do to bring more balance, but I think what follows are the big ones that will help most people, if applied.
Write Down Your Objective
Before looking up something on the Internet, write a word or a sentence down on an index card to remind you exactly what it is that you were looking for. I know this may sound a little extreme, however, It is so easy to get distracted. You’ll start by Googling a word or phrase and click on a link that is not a directly address your question. Before before you know it, you are onto something that nothing to do with what you originally searched.
This happens ALL THE TIME. Personally, I have found that this makes it a lot easier to stay on track. Simply writing a word or phrase down on a piece of paper or an index card does the trick for me.
Don’t Follow Rabbit Trails!
How many times have you Googled something, read the article, and found the ads on the sidebar a wee bit distracting, only to click on them because it sounded interesting or funny. For example, I just Googled, “20th Century Architecture”, and one of the ads that displayed was titled, “Hilarious Dad Photobombs These Kids Won’t Recover From“. At first, you you tell yourself, “That sounds funny.” Then after seeing the picture of a Dad photobombing his kids in the ad, you think, “I wonder what other Dad photobombs there are, maybe I could find a funny one and post it on Facebook”, and off you go.
You had no intention of ending up on a page that had to do with Dad’s photobombing their kids, but that’s where you ended up. 20 minutes later, you realize, “Oh, Snap! What am I doing here?!”
I can’t tell you how many times I have looked up something on the Internet only to be distracted by an ad, or even a related Google search. It happens to all of us all the time. Stay focused and find exactly what you were looking for.
Limit the Time you Spend on News & Sports Sites
I’m not a sports guy, but I am a news junky. I could care less about who won what game, or what the stats of a particular player (in any sport), is. But ask me what is going on in the world at any point in the day, and chances are that I will be able to tell you.
Long gone are the days where the secretary would field your phone calls for you. Today, most people don’t have a secretary and you determine who has access to you. Advertisers do not send men in suits to your office in the hope of making an appointment with you. They simply pop up in your browser or Facebook feed. How rude! 🙂
One of the easiest ways to keep up on scores and news stories is to be notified via your desktop browser or even your cell phone. Simply turn notifications off on your cell phone and disable notifications on your web browser so that you’re not tempted to click on a link to investigate.
Turn Off the TV
Obviously, this is not an issue if you are working in a professional office environment with co-workers around, but it definitely could be an issue if you are working from home. It’s easy to justify leaving the television on in the background. But just like the television was a distraction for your kids when they were doing their homework at the kitchen table, it’s a distraction for while sitting in your home office. It steals your attention.
Even as I said here writing this article in my home, the television is not on and I am being far more productive than I otherwise would be. The TV has a way of stealing your focus, and that’s not something you can afford to loose when you are trying to be productive. Turn it off and leave it off, and you will find that you will get the job done sooner.
Turn Off Social Media Notifications
For some, social media is the Internet. For certain, social media has taken the Internet by storm. With popular services such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, you can find out the latest gossip, vent your opinion on anything, record of video of you doing the chicken dance, and even show people what you are eating for dinner tonight.
Let me ask you a few questions. Do you really need to know what the latest gossip is while trying to be productive? Do you really need to know what someone else’s opinion is right now? Must do you see someone doing the chicken dance or whatever else they can cram into 15 seconds on TickTock? Is it really important for you to know what food one of your friends posted on Instagram?
For a moment, let’s say that you are a CEO of a company and you holding a managers meeting at one of your corporate offices. As the CEO of your company, not in a million years would you accept that type of behavior from one of your employees during a business meeting.
It would not be acceptable for one of your employees to allow one of their friends to come in to your business meeting and share a bunch of gossip (Facebook). You also would not allow that employee to vent their opinion on politics during that meeting (Twitter). Furthermore, I cannot imagine that you would allow your employee to stand up during your business meeting and do the chicken dance for 15 seconds (TikTok), or to provide a poster board sized picture of what they ate for dinner last night (Instagram).
When you sit down to accomplish work using the internet, to be productive, you have to be free from distraction. When painting this picture, it reveals just how absurd it is to allow social media to disrupt your agenda, doesn’t it?
Only you can determine how productive you will be when using the Internet. You can set yourself up for success, or you can just let any and every distraction enslave your focus.
Focus is the key issue, and if applied, the steps offered in this article will make you more productive, no question about it. To the extent that you apply them, to that same extent, will you see your productivity increase.
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