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Does the Internet Really Increase your Productivity?

Does the Internet Really Increase your Productivity?
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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.

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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