Apr 07 2012

How to Avoid Wasting Time Online

Digital time wasters are one of the biggest time drains in today’s workplace. Digital time wasters include social bookmarking sites like Reddit, 9Gag and StumbleUpon, as well as seemingly productive facilities like email and Twitter.

These sites can suck you in, consume hours of your time and spit you back out before you’ve even realized that you got distracted.

How do you handle digital time wasters? Just follow these five steps.

==> Step 1: Identify the Culprits

Which digital time wasters are your biggest time sinks? The answer varies from person to person.

Some people browse from joke to joke on 9gag, while others incessantly check email every hour. Some people spend far too much time on Facebook, while others are hooked on StumbleUpon.

Whatever it is for you, start by observing your own behaviors and identifying your biggest culprits.

==> Step 2: Set Specific Times to Check Them

The goal isn’t to eliminate the browsing of these sites. Instead, the goal is to limit the checking of these sites to a manageable amount that doesn’t distract from your day to day activities.

Set a few specific times to check these sites. For example, you might check Facebook once before work, once at noon and after work as much as you like. Or you might check Reddit only once a day, at night.

==> Step 3: Let the World Know

The decision to stop these time wasters becomes much more powerful when you let the world know.

Let your co-workers and your Facebook friends know that you’ll no longer be checking email (or whatever site you chose) every hour.

People will help hold you accountable and make sure that you don’t waste undue time on these sites.

==> Step 4: Block the Sites

This fourth step is optional. For people who have trouble with self-control and eliminating distractions of their own accord, one option is to simply block your computer from being able to access these sites.

This works best for purely entertainment sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon, rather than facilities that you also need for work like email.

How do you do it? Use your computer’s host file to redirect any domain that you don’t want to be able to access to “localhost” or “127.0.0.1”.

For more information on this technique, do a search for how to set a host file.

==> Step 5: Review and Improve

How has your productivity been since you implemented these changes? Take a look at your results after week one and see what happened.

Ask yourself: Is this sustainable? Can you keep your digital time wasters at this amount forever, or do you feel like you’re being overly strict? On the flip side, do you think you need to be even stricter to achieve maximum productivity?

Try your new system for a week or two, then change the system to suit your needs.