Have you ever sat down at your computer with the best intentions; perhaps to finish a big project or start writing a draft? You have everything you need with you and you’re motivated to finish your assignment. Just as you’re about to start, you hear that familiar ping, signalling that you have a Facebook message/new email/contact that came online. Before you know it, you’ve spent 4 hours procrastinating on the net, with no single stitch of work done.
This is a very common scenario. I’ve personally fallen into this trap before. Here are a few ways to nip internet procrastination in the butt before it interferes with your productivity levels.
Log out :
Close your browser completely. This is easier said than done, but with an open browser the temptation is there to take a “quick” peek every couple of minutes. Minutes will turn into hours. It is inevitable.
Most Instant Message services “ping” when you receive a new message, causing you to lose concentration. The simplest method is to merely switch off all IM services and log out of any active profiles. This includes Gmail, MSN, Facebook, Twitter, chat applications on your phone, etc.
This helps to keep you off the sites that distract you most. There are many applications and plugins available, depending on the browser you use.
- Cold Turkey allows you to block certain sites for fixed periods of time and is difficult to circumvent, should temptation strike.
- DarkRoom: If you have to use Word but find yourself constantly checking your browser, then this application is for you. It takes up the entire screen, forcing you to focus only on your writing/project.
- LeechBlock also blocks certain sites for fixed periods of time. Set the reminders up in a way that will ensure you cannot access sites like Facebook or YouTube during the first hour of the morning, for example.
- With StayFocusd you can allot a certain amount of time to specific websites per day. You will be blocked from said sites for the remainder of the day if you exceed your allotted time.
- Safari has a nifty plugin called Read It Later. When you stumble upon an interesting website, the plugin saves the website in a folder for you to access at a later stage
Track what you do online:
Alternatively, you can download a time tracker, like MeeTimer, to keep track of the time you spent on sites recreationally. Seeing exactly how much time can be wasted on unproductive activities might be enough of a boost for you to stick to your schedule. Instead of blocking sites, MeeTimer monitors the amount of time you spend on certain sites.
Personally, I know my weaknesses when it comes to online procrastination. I know that, if I have internet access, it’s extremely hard to be productive. At the office, I’ll disconnect my laptop from the network. No internet means no internet procrastination. When I have to write over weekends, I’ll do my research at home, clip everything in Evernote, and head to the nearest coffee shop where I can work through my research, offline.
What are your tips for beating internet procrastination and staying productive?