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The Internet and Productivity: A Love/Hate Relationship

The Internet and Productivity: A Love/Hate Relationship

    As hundreds to thousands of American websites go “dark” to protest the current SOPA and PIPA proposals that are in front of their government leaders, they have found that they aren’t alone in this plight. Around the world many other websites from many other countries are uniting with their American Internet colleagues, truly demonstrating that the web is indeed “worldwide” and assembling the largest online protest in history.

    While Lifehack.org hasn’t gone this route today, I’m going to take a look at what the Internet has done (and not done) for those who have wanted to get more productivity out of themselves and their coworkers. Whether you’re looking for solutions to bottlenecks in your workload, want to communicate better with your teammates or simply want to shape your life so that you can live it to its fullest, the Internet has played a part. I’m not saying it’s always been an ally – because for many of us it hasn’t – but I am saying it has played a part. The Internet and productivity have a love/hate relationship, and it’s important to understand that proposed legislation like SOPA (which appears to have been killed) and PIPA will have a real impact on both sides of the equation.

    Why Productivity Loves the Internet

    I could very easily drive off course here and discuss why I love that productivity loves the Internet, but I’ll do my best to avoid that.

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    The ability to use comprehensive web apps – whether it be Asana or Flow – or a secondary web app like Dropbox to sync up your tasks and projects, the Internet has made it so much easier for so many people to get things done. You’d be hard-pressed to see iOS and Android devices that could sync as well as they do if the Internet didn’t exist in its current form. In addition, websites such as Lifehack.org would have a much tougher time getting the message out if there was no Internet – because the only way they could exist is in print form. And while productivity sites are pretty popular in the online world, they can’t stand on their own in the offline one.

    Without the Internet there would be far fewer resources for people to look to should they want to improve their productivity. As for collaboration tools, they would be a distant memory (or a figment of the imagination) if it weren’t for this “series of tubes” – as one of the US lawmakers described the base technology you’re using to read this piece right now.

    Think about it: Without the Internet, productivity tools would be far less advanced than they are today.

    That said, some people may not think that’s necessarily a bad thing…

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    Why Productivity Hates the Internet

    When we had electronic organizers and paper planners to help us get stuff done, that’s exactly what they were for. They didn’t check email, they didn’t play games, and they didn’t do Twitter or Facebook.

    But the Internet does all of those things…and more.

    The best part about the Internet when it comes to productivity is also its worst. It can help or hurt you, depending on what you, as the end user, does with it.

    The distractions that come with being able to access anything, anytime has done as much to harm the productivity of many as it has done to enhance it for others. But like those who choose paper over digital despite having the option to go with the latter, users have the same type of choice when it comes to using the Internet. You can use it responsibly or you can just use it. You just need to be prepared for the consequences either way.

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    What do I mean by that?

    Should you put all of “your productivity eggs in the Internet basket” and it goes down – either in error or on purpose – you had best be ready to deal with what you had on your plate regardless. The thing about analog tools is that you have control over them from beginning to end. How you choose to implement them, what ones you use, what happens to them before and afterward – that’s all on you.

    But with a web app or a software solution that works by connecting to the Internet in some fashion, you’re giving up some form of control. Even if it is a small amount, like syncing, it can be a vital amount. Losing all of what you’ve stored online because of a glitch (or perhaps a server being shut down due to violating the terms set out in a country’s laws) isn’t exactly something you’re ready for. But you might be wise to do so.

    Your Internet. Your Productivity.

    Today is a great to sit down and figure out whether or not you really value the Internet and productivity as a union or if you don’t. You’re not going to be able to remove the internet from the process entirely – email is on the Internet, after all – but you can lessen your reliance on it.

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    But do you really want to? Or do you really not want to have a choice in the matter?

    The Internet is a valuable resource that the world needs. It serves to connect us and can make what used to be impossible possible. Productivity types like myself (and likely yourself) have tools and tactics we employ every day that involve using it. Many people nowadays make their living on it. Many of those using it don’t understand all of it, and that’s fine. The problem lies when those that don’t can control its future.

    The only person that should be able to split up the Internet and productivity is you. Don’t let anyone take that choice away from you, no matter how tough that choice may be.

    Editor’s Note: If you want to learn more about SOPA and PIPA, head over to Stop American Censorship.

    (Photo credit: Road Signs Showing the Way to Hate and Love via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on July 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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