The internet is a good place and also, ironically, a bad place for work.
By good place, I mean most of us can greatly benefit from the Internet thanks to its huge source of information. Being a programmer, I heavily rely on the webs to help me with my day-to-day job. When I have a problem need to be solved , a quick google search often saves me hours of trying to figure it out myself.
On the other hand, the internet also has its downside. Social networks, instant messengers, online news and entertainment, all these kinds attractive stuff are just one click away. And most of us seem not to be able to resist the urge of following this infinite loop of distraction.
One thing that most of us don’t realize that the Internet is one of the most distracting our mankind has ever invented. Yes, it is much worse than video games or TV. How is that possible? Let me explain.
If you playing games on a PlayStation 3 or watching TV for three hours straight, you know exactly that you are spending time on entertainment. And you will immediately know that you have been playing/watching too much.
But, on a computer, that’s a totally different story. You can spend hours browsing Facebook, reading online news and still feel like you are just taking a “quick” break from your work. And of course, with many of us, there are often not just one “quick” break in a typical work day. The ugly thing here is, even you just spent two hours or more in those kind of non-work related activities, by the end of the day, you still feel like you have been doing a full eight hours of work. There is no clear boundary between working and playing when it comes to a computer with high-speed internet connection.
So, how are we going to solve this problem? In my situation, I can not just unplug the cable to disconnect from the internet. As a programmer, I need internet to do my job. So instead, I put all websites that I consider time-consuming into a blacklist, then ban all of them from my computer.
What is the result of this? Every time my mind wanders and I type “facebook.com” in the browser, I get a friendly reminder like this 😉
Also, I moved the rest of news reading and other non-work related activities to my Ipad. The Ipad is a great device for those kinds of stuff. By using this trick, I now have a much clearer sense of how much time I spend on work and entertainment.
Are you aware of any other method that help us stay away from distractions?