Stop Surfing the Internet And Get Work Done! Here Are Some Hacks
You open Facebook to reply to an inbox message before going to bed, and when you look up... wait, it’s morning?!
You sit down with your phone for five minutes after work to take care of a Facebook message a friend sent about a party of another friend’s pet goldfish. And when you look up from the device after a harmless Internet browsing of what seemed like five-minutes, you find yourself at the fag end of the night. Time to get ready for work again. Where did all the time go?!
Yes, I ask myself the same question every night. Of course the easiest solution to this is turning off all gadgets and the Internet. Sadly enough (or not), we live in a world where existence away from the digital realm is virtually impossible. But all is not lost yet.
There are ways of training yourself to not get distracted while being online. Here’s how:
1. Scrolling Your Life Away?
The first step towards curbing a bad habit is to figure out where you are going wrong. There are lots of mobile applications and computer plug-ins that can be used to see the apps or sites you use the most.
Time Tracker is a Chrome plug-in that shows you the websites you spend maximum time on. Similarly, both the Google Playstore and Apple App Store have several apps that will give you a daily report of the amount of time you spend on your phone. Once you know if your life is being whiled away scrolling down the endless sea of Instagram posts, for instance, you can have a more localised treatment for this problem. Logging out of Instagram during work hours is a solution.
2. Browser Plug-ins to the Rescue
If you are close to the point of no return and want to apply more extreme measures, there are browser plug-ins and extension for your computer. What they essentially do is block specific websites for certain periods of time allowing you to bring in some regulation while being online.
Being aware of slight changes in the environment protected our primitive ancestors from potential threats. Hence we are designed to instinctively pay attention to even the slightest change around us.
However, as we moved from hunting for food to garnering likes for survival in the virtual domain, the tendency to track preys was replaced by the tendency to track social media updates.
Cue entry of dopamine (or the reward chemical) and voila! Here we are, addicted to our display pictures and check-ins. Dopamine is activated not only by activities you enjoy, but also by the simple idea of those activities in the form of pictures or information, also tied to validation by peers.
And lastly, declutter. This is fairly simple and straightforward. Get rid of desktop clutter in the form of extra tabs, windows and icons. Go full screen to avoid distractions.
3. Plan Your Distractions: Postpone, Bookmark
But how DO we declutter and close our eyes to distractions - you ask. Well, the idea is to not shut your eyes entirely. In fact, some distraction is good. What needs to be checked is its rampant impinging on your work when you’re trying to be productive.
- Plan Your Distractions: Allow yourself a little ‘distraction-time’ after the completion of a smaller, achievable task. For example, 10 minutes of surfing the web for every hour of work. Find your pace and the time periods you are most comfortable with. Your willpower would of course be put to test when you try to return to work, but over time, these tests would become easier.
- Bookmark: Bookmark stories, articles, content that distracts you for later. Return to them once the work at hand is complete.
- Mindfulness: It’s easier to fall prey to distractions if the mind is scattered. If along with planning your lunch you’re simultaneously thinking of the light you would click it in, along with the caption that would suit the picture the best... What about hashtags? What’s the point of putting up a post if people don’t see it, right? Like that post from last night on Facebook which was an echo of that Snapchat filter your crush used...see where we are headed with this?
If you’re prone to this Internet-induced stream of consciousness, mindfulness might be your answer. If meditation and Yoga is too much of a cliche for you, check out mindfulness colouring books for adults. They are a great way to train the adult mind to be in the moment and not wander.
Working in a noisy room? Check out some white noise soundtracks. Not only will they soothe you, but also improve concentration. Here’s one of my favourite tracks:
Ironically enough, your answer might also lie in technology itself. There are lots of apps that help you be more mindful. A personal favourite is Headspace.
4. If All Else Fails, Remember Web-Surfing Improves Performance
Yes, you read that right. A study by The Wall Street Journal showed Internet browsing actually helps improve performance.
The study was carried out with three groups where while all three were given a simple task to perform, only one was allowed to surf the net in between. This group performed the best at the task.
Looks like WSJ gave the validation most millennials needed:
Web browsing can actually refresh tired workers and enhance their productivity, compared to other activities such as making personal calls, texts or emails, let alone working straight through with no rest at all.
How do you stop yourself from getting distracted online? Or have you already given up on pretending you can get any work done to begin with? Write in to us and share your story.
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