“Hmmm… that looks interesting!”
Is wasting time online affecting you to the point that you want to do something about it?
Do you finally tear yourself away from the screen, frustrated that you allowed yourself to get distracted far too easily and for too long?
Everyone wastes time online. It's just a question of how, when and to what degree they do it.
Try these tips to make better use of yours...
How and when do you waste time online? If you sat down to work on something for, say, 30 minutes, how often would you actually do 30 minutes' worth of work?
Know what your current habits are and you know what you’re dealing with. If you don’t, analyze your online time. This could be as simple as viewing your internet history files before you come off the computer.
For a more comprehensive analysis of how you use your time online, use some form of productivity tracking software. Try it out to see if it’s worth the time it takes to set up, learn and adapt it to your current working habits.
Bottom line? You know how you’re currently spending your time online, an excellent starting point for you to…
Give yourself permission to waste time - it’s unrealistic to expect anything else.
Instead of being at the mercy of whatever distracts you, reign in your online habits. Put a limit on the time you’re prepared to allow yourself to waste. Break it down into hours, then minutes for each day.
Avoid being too prescriptive. Expect to get distracted at unexpected moments during the day, but stay aware of your self-set limits and use them as targets to aim for, day by day.
It won’t always work, but it will significantly improve things if you analyse, then lock down, time wasting activities online.
One of the must-have time management tools is a simple timer. This has a surprisingly powerful effect on productivity, both online and off.
Buy a simple egg timer or use a web based application such as online-stopwatch.com. Whichever timer you use, get into the habit of setting it when you want to push your work, or limit your waste.
Of course, a timer is only good if you set it before an activity. Often, though, the trouble with wasting time online is that it’s not usually planned!
In the midst of research, it’s easy to click an irrelevant but interesting link, which leads on to another one, and so on.
So how do you stop wasting time online this way?
You don’t. You reduce it.
When you’re on the web will affect how you use it. Are there certain times of day when you’re at your weakest?
If you go online mid-morning would your productivity be better than if you “quickly” go online to check emails last thing before bed?
Experience will tell you when during your day you’re likely to waste time. Learn to work according to your daily rhythm. Avoid wandering around the web last thing at night, or whenever you know you're likely to waste time.
When you turn on your computer and connect to the internet what’s the first page you see? Is it likely to help you focus or will you get distracted?
Choose a start page that will encourage what you want and discourage what you don’t.
A well chosen first page will provide a point of focus to help direct your thoughts. Basically, you can set it to direct your online intentions.
On the other hand, a personalized start page with distractions isn’t likely to get you off to a good start online.
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If you’re wasting time online, each of these five tips will help you to a degree. Self discipline is still important, but, used together, they will have a positive impact on your productivity.
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