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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 July 10, 2019

      30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

      30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

      What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

      You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

      Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

      Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

      But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

      To start you off with combating procrastination, here are a few quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

      A Few Home Truths

        “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
        ― Mark Twain


        “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
        ― Leonardo da Vinci


        “Someday is not a day of the week.”
        ― Janet Dailey


        “Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”
        ― Israelmore Ayivor


        “The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”
        ― Craig D. Lounsbrough


        “Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”
        ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret


        “Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”
        ― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor


        “Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”
        ― Matshona Dhliwayo


        “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
        ― Abraham Lincoln


        “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
        ― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere


        “By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”
        ― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes


        “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
        ― José N. Harris


        Some Practical Advice

          “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
          ― Hilary Mantel


          “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
          ― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding


          “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
          ― Pablo Picasso


          “It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”
          ― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema


          “Do first what you don’t want to do most.”
          ― Clifford Cohen


          “How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”
          ― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination


          “How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”
          ― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating


          “Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”
          ― James Jones


          Some Tough Love

            “Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”
            ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph


            “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
            ― George Bernard Shaw


            “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
            ― José N. Harris


            “What is deferred is not avoided.”
            ― Thomas More


            “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”
            ― Chuck Close


            “If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
            ― Roy Bennett


            “Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”― Sanjo Jendayi


            “You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”
            ― Debasish Mridha


            When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

              “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
              ― Denis Waitley


              “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
              ― Karen Lamb


              Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

              It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

              More Motivational Quotes

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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