The Internet offers an entire world of informational resources that would take an entire lifetime to even graze the surface. Naturally, the mystery and depth of this world continually fascinates and intrigues anyone with the ability to access it with just the click of a button. Although discovering new things by exploring the Internet can be informative—or at the very least, entertaining—it comes with the setback of lost time and compromised productivity. Self-discipline alone may not always be the best solution either.
To keep yourself in line while using the Internet and to avoid wasting valuable time, follow these top five strategies for staying productive online:
1. Schedule Your Day
If you’re an online student, or if your job requires you to use the Internet for a significant portion of the day, creating a schedule is crucial to ensuring that everything gets done. Set deadlines for each activity on your to-do list and be sure to schedule for the full day you’ll be working. For example, say you complete your schoolwork online at 8:00 when the kids are finally in bed. Scheduling activities in 30 minute increments will give you a better idea of the consequences of wasting time online (for example, a 2:00 a.m. bedtime) and will help you meet smaller, more manageable deadlines.
2. Wake Up Earlier
According to Kyle Pott of Lifehack.org, individuals who wake up early tend to have more productive mornings, are able to accomplish more tasks and generally report less strain in comparison to later risers. You might be thinking, “what does the time I wake up have to do with my Internet browsing habits?” For one, it eliminates the likelihood that you’ll stray to social media sites, since most people aren’t typically hanging out on Facebook at early in the morning. Furthermore, waking up early gives one a sense of purpose that encourages productivity at work. For example, who wants to go through the struggle of waking up at 5:00 in the morning if you’re just going to spend your first hour at work on Pinterest?
3. Use Bookmarks
Several ways users may get distracted is by feeling a sense of urgency about reading a news article, purchasing an item or participating in another non-work online activity. If you come across an interesting ad or other distraction while you’re working, make an effort to bookmark it for later so you don’t stray from the task at hand. Bookmarking helps you feel more accomplished and organized without having to actually devote your time to the distraction.
4. Allot Time for Leisurely Online Activities
Going cold turkey on your leisure Internet browsing probably isn’t the most effective method, which is why it’s actually a smart idea to allot some time during the day to participate in leisurely online activities. For example, check your social networks during lunch and respond to personal emails during your regular 11 a.m. coffee break. Make sure to set parameters on how long you can participate in non-work Internet use to avoid wandering into the World Wide Web for hours on end. For example, allow no more than 45 minutes of Internet browsing during your lunch break and no more than 25 minutes during your morning coffee break.
5. Reward Yourself
Surprisingly enough, working toward a paycheck or an online degree may not be enough to motivate you to complete your list of daily tasks. To encourage yourself to knock out that research paper or finish your portion of a team project at work, set smaller, immediate rewards. For example, set goals like, “If I finish this project, I will treat myself to a Snickers bar at the snack machine” or “If I turn in this assignment by 5 p.m., I’ll get to go out to dinner with a friend tonight.” Little things like this help to push the workday along while increasing focus and productivity.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to block your favorite websites or stay up until the early hours of the morning to get things done. If you maintain a healthy balance of work and play while employing these strategies, you’ll find a more productive, stress-free lifestyle.
Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts covering social media and education on behalf of Colorado Technical University. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.