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Because of the power of the web, we assume the internet must be saving us time and money. It is true that if used carefully the internet can increase our productivity. However, at the same time it can create additional burdens on our time, negating any benefits we may have got. Using the internet for an hour a day, can save us considerable time in shopping, business, and social activity. However, that doesn’t mean spending 7 hours a day, is going to give us 7 times the benefit. Does the internet make you more productive or is it just an addictive tool for wasting your time?

How to Make sure the Internet Increases your Productivity.

1. Email.

  • Is the message really necessary? Don’t send a message for the sake of it.
  • Keep it short. 5 sentences or less is a good standard to aim for.
  • Don’t check email compulsively. 2 or 3 times a day should be sufficient.
  • Don’t check email, just because you’ve got nothing better to do.
  • When you do check email do it thoroughly. I.e. either delete messages or archive the in a suitable folder.
  • Avoid at all costs getting into arguments and disputes via email. Email is impersonal and tends to aggravate conflict. It is better to wait, cool down and try speak to the other in person. Don’t waste time in meaningless flame wars.
  • If you have several email addresses, consider having them forwarded to a central email account. Although, it may be good to keep a separation between personal and business.


2. News and web surfing

Since I started using the internet, I very rarely buy a newspaper or magazine. Through RSS feeds and Google News, you can more accurately search for news that is both relevant and of interest to yourself. However, news and social networking sites can take up more time than we may realise. Checking sites for interesting stories requires little effort; it is a passive task easier than doing something productive. Therefore, whenever we have a spare 10 minutes or feel like a break we start surfing. But, because there is so much information we can be drawn in and spend many hours just reading and being unproductive. Try to monitor and limit the time you spend surfing. Always be aware that the time we spend clicking through pages, could be better spent on actually doing something.

3. Clear Purpose

When you turn on the computer have a clear idea of what you wish to achieve. Measure your productivity by what you have achieved and not by how much time you spend.

4. Don’t Get Addicted To Forums

Forums can be useful for gaining information and making contacts; but don’t get addicted to following every irrelevant thread. If you are not careful, forums can become the perfect time waster.

5. When 115 billion web pages are too much.

The vastness and unlimited quantity of the internet is both a boon and disadvantage. Getting information from the net is like getting a cup of water, sitting under the Niagara falls. We certainly get a cup of water, the problem is that we also get far more than we need. When surfing the internet there is no shortage of information. The trick is to get the information that we need. Be ruthless with your bookmarks, time and RSS feeds. Make sure you set up the internet to get what you want, not what other people wish to give you.

Tejvan Pettinger works as an Economics teacher in Oxford. In his spare time he enjoys writing on topics of self-improvement, meditation and productivity. He updates a blog on writing, and productivity tips at Net Writing.

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