You have a job that requires you be online all day. You have the freedom to go wherever your fingers guide you. You frequently get distracted from what you are doing and have no idea how you ended up on a website about tall people (don’t click that, silly!). Distraction begets more distraction. Here are 6 tips to improve productivity and minimize distractions, or websites you don’t really want to be on, but somehow keep finding yourself there anyway.
1) Avoid using any email that requires you to login to a ‘portal’ like Yahoo or MSN. They always have useless stories flashing all over the place and something is bound to catch your eye. From there it’s anyone’s guess when the next time you’ll get some actual work done is. Get a Gmail account or use a desktop program to access your email.
2) Before yo open the browser, at anytime, ask yourself: what do I need to do now? what websites do I need to go to? What exactly do I need to accomplish now? Otherwise you end up aimlessly (and almost subconsciously) checking all the latest stuff on all the sites that your fingers are just used to typing when you are not doing anything specifically. Time flies by really quickly when you’re doing nothing.
3) If you absolutely must check certain sites for news, the latest drama or whatnot, limit your visits to once a twice a day max. Blogs these days are in the game of getting you to keep coming back during the day, refreshing endlessly to catch the next story before anyone else does. Your eyes get bored and start wandering. You start clicking on buttons for no reason. And worst of all, checking the same sites 20x a day becomes a habit and you stop realizing you’re even doing it.
4) Email, Email, Email. Most of us are way too obsessive with this. “Yes but, It’s how I make a living!” Well to that I say: exactly. That’s exactly why you should know how to effectively manage you inbox. This includes coming up with specific times you check your email during the day and maybe not checking it morning or night.
5) Cut out messengers and IM’s. Skype, Yahoo Messenger, AIM (Hello?) you know what I’m talking about. Those windows that ‘help’ us get through the day. Ding and dong when someone signs in or leaves. And generally distract you from giving 100% focus to anything. If you absolutely must use them, at least set aside a certain period during the day where you sign out of all them to increase productivity and focus.
6) Set ‘No internet times’. One of the reasons we slack off so much, is because we know the internet will always be there to do something if we really really need it done right away. So we say to ourselves, why do it right NOW? This is why you set ‘no internet times’ – maybe it’s after 8pm, or the whole Saturday, or between 7pm and 10pm when you get home. Just choose a consistent time block and stick to it. This will help make your time online more valuable and ‘scarce’ which will encourage you to procrastinate a bit less.