I love the Internet. I really, really love the Internet. If you promised me lightning-fast Internet and a souped-up PC in exchange for my cellphone, TV and all my video game consoles, I’d do it.
Because I love the Internet so much, I know from experience what it’s like to waste entire days online–days that should have been spent working on more important projects. I’ve learned a lot since those days of blissful unproductivity. And it looks like I did it just in time. According to a recent article by Mike Elgan:
The individual, the company, the nation that is best at avoiding distractions in the future will have an enormous advantage in the competitive marketplace.
That’s because the Internet is increasingly becoming an addicting distraction instead of a useful tool for most people. So what can you do to avoid all of those online temptations? Here are the strategies that have worked for me.
1) Write a To Do list. RIGHT NOW.
It’s amazing how often this simple activity is neglected, even though it does wonders for getting you organized. Before you even turn on your computer, jot down a list of things that need doing.
Some people I know use virtual Post-It notes, but I don’t think they’re that useful. In fact, I find them counter-productive. All it takes to forget about that virtual To Do list is a maximized Internet browser or chat window.
I like my To Do list written on an actual piece of paper that I can put right beside my mouse or tape on a corner of my screen. That way I’m constantly reminded of all the things I need to do.
2) Step away from the gun… I mean, the computer.
I find it easier to stay focused when I am away from my computer. This is why I still prefer using pen and paper when I’m writing a report. After I finish the first draft, I type it up again on my PC.
It all sounds laborious and time-consuming, but it’s actually a lot more efficient than sitting in front of the computer, where I’m constantly tempted by Yahoo Messenger, StumbleUpon and Oh No They Didn’t.
3) Disconnect yourself from the Internet. Literally.
If you still think writing things by hand is a waste of time, you could compromise by disabling your Internet connection. But don’t just right-click on Network Connections and click Disable. Pull the plug on your router or move away from a WiFi hotspot. It’ll go a long way towards lessening the temptation.
For more tips on how to beat procrastination in general (not just the type caused by the Internet), you can check out our post on How to Stop Being So Lazy.