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Why The Internet Is Killing Your Productivity

Why The Internet Is Killing Your Productivity

You can’t get by without being online. Our world is connected 24/7, and it has changed the way we live and work. When working on a project, it’s natural to turn to the web for answers or inspiration. The internet is a valuable tool, but it’s easy to find yourself distracted or overwhelmed by it.

Say, for example, that you’re working on a essay, and you need to do some research. Your search terms bring back 20 pages of results. Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour poring over more information than you’ll ever be able to use.

Maybe you notice a catchy title or an ad that draws you away from your work. You’re learning about the private details of your favourite celebrity’s life, or you’re buying the newest gadget. Time disappears and you’re still not done with your work.

We can’t live without the internet, so we need to learn how to live with it

Everything is online these days, and it’s so easy to Google whatever you want to know. We’ve gotten used to using the internet to find the answers to our burning questions.

You can’t even attend school without getting online. Online education portals and communication are a normal part of learning now. We’re so reliant on the internet, that we don’t always know how to find answers any other way.

Just 15 years ago, if you wanted to know the meaning of a word, you looked it up in the dictionary. Today, we just Google it. We no longer call a restaurant when we need to make a reservation. We go online or use an app to save ourselves a table. We don’t even have to set foot in a store anymore–we can buy whatever we need and have it shipped to us.

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Having internet access should increase productivity because we don’t have to spend so long looking for answers. The internet’s ability to make information available at your fingertips is a blessing and a curse. For many people, the internet is extremely distracting.

How often do you catch yourself with non-work-related tabs open? It can take you twice as long to complete a task when you are bogged down by these distractions.

    Addiction to social media is closely tied to our general addiction to the internet. Everyone is always on their phones. I’ve definitely caught myself checking my phone every ten minutes. I have to refresh my Facebook and Instagram feeds constantly because I am consumed by the fear of missing out (FOMO).[1]

    I know I’m not alone in my compulsive page-refreshing. By the time I get around to working, I don’t have enough focus and energy to put toward the task. If this sounds like you, then your productivity has suffered because of the way you use the internet.

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      Distraction can have long-term consequences

      Decreased productivity means that you won’t be able to achieve your full potential. It’ll take you longer to do your work, or you might lose the drive and self-discipline to take care of business. Chronic distraction can even rewire your brain.[2]

      The more distracted you become, the easier it is to procrastinate. While the internet is fun and stimulating, it will almost always tempt you from working on your most-important tasks.

      It just so happens that the internet has this effect on us because of our biology. The instant gratification we get from clicking, searching, and refreshing stimulates our limbic system and prompts the brain to release dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter.

      Using the internet is an all-encompassing experience. We use our hands to type or engage our touchscreens. Our eyes and ears are flooded with stimulation from videos and notification. This bombardment of stimulation hijacks our attention and leaves us seeking the next click.[3]

      It’s time to cut the cord

      The only way to stop the internet from taking up all your time and concentration is to disconnect. When you unplug, you’ll get your focus back, and you’ll be less tempted to waste time on things like email, instant messaging, and social media. There’s a time and a place for those things, and it isn’t all day every day.

      Impulsiveness and our tendency toward distraction originates in the limbic system. Piers Steel, author of The Procrastination Equation calls impulsiveness the “cornerstone of procrastination.” The more impulsive you are, the more likely you are to procrastinate.

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      To combat procrastination and impulsiveness, we have to get our prefrontal cortex involved. We use this part of our brain to tackle difficult projects or plan for the future. There’s an even better solution to building focus than strengthening our brain against impulse: remove time-wasters before they take up your time.

      Unplugging from the internet is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from wasting time in the first place. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you are when you take control of the internet rather than let it control you.

      Tips for embracing an unplugged workday

      1. Disconnect when the work seems hard

      The internet rewards us on a neurochemical level when we avoid doing things that we don’t want to do. When you’re working on a high-impact or challenging task, disconnecting will be so helpful for you. After you get used to not refreshing your browser or checking your email, you’ll be amazed at the sense of calm and productivity that you experience.

      2. Put your phone away

      Lock it up, leave it in your bag, or put it in another room. Whatever you do, don’t leave it faceup on your desk. It’s just begging for you to pick it up, and the notifications are sure to draw you away from more important matters.

      3. Put your mind to it

      It’s not enough to put your phone away. Go into your work with the intention of having greater focus and energy. Setting your intention will also help you fight off the temptation to scroll mindlessly.

      4. Give yourself deadlines

      When you don’t have a deadline, projects can take a lot longer to finish. If you weren’t given a deadline, make your own. That pressure will help you focus and get the job done on time.

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      5. Close the extra tabs on your browser

      There are probably a few tabs that you don’t need to have open on your screen right now. Each one is an invitation to click away from your high-impact task. Get rid of anything you don’t need–even your inbox tab can be closed for a little while.

      6. Prevent information overload

      There are an infinite number of pages and articles on the web. Don’t let them prevent you from taking action.[4] Put a time limit on your research. If you find an unrelated article that interests you, bookmark it for later.

      Bookmarking apps such as “Pocket” and “Feedly” are great ways to save online content so that you can look back on it later.

      The internet was made to improve your life

      The web has changed the way our world works. It’s a bonus that adds to the quality of our life, but it isn’t critical to your survival. Use the internet to be more productive and produce better work so that you can have more energy for the things you love.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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      Last Updated on November 24, 2020

      50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

      50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

      LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

      Job Search Experts

      You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

      1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

      2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

      3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

      4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

      5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

      Management Experts

      They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

      6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

      7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

      8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

      9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

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      Productivity Experts

      By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

      10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

      11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

      12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

      13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

      Marketing Experts

      14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

      15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

      16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

      17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

      18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

      19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

      20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

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      21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

      22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

      23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

      24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

      25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

      26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

      Personal Branding Experts

      Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

      Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

      27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

      28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

      Other Notable Experts to Follow

      29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

      30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

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      31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

      32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

      33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

      34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

      35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

      36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

      37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

      38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

      39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

      40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

      41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

      42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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      43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

      44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

      45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

      46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

      47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

      48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

      49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

      50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

      These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

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      Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

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