Where Has All Our Productivity Gone?
Okay, let’s take a little quiz. Raise your hand if the first thing you reach for when you wake up is your phone. What about checking social media during a meeting or out on a date? Guilty? Most people are. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that while you’re reading this, you probably have multiple tabs open, and they aren’t all work-related.
The internet can be an invaluable tool to increase business and productivity. We can share information with customers and co-workers at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger. So why aren’t we getting more accomplished?
Too Much of Good Thing
While some internet usage is helpful, it often overloads our attention. For example, you go to search for information on coffee and you end up with 100 articles on coffee, coffee shops (including a review of that new one you’ve been dying to try — so you just had to read it), coffee growers in Colombia and the latest coffee brewers. What started out as a simple request to help you make the best cup of joe turned into an hour’s worth of interesting reading…just not a productive hour’s worth.
Lots of Distractions
Like with the coffee shop review above, people can be distracted by something interesting. They can even be distracted by the mundane if they’re trying to avoid a particular task. You wouldn’t believe what people find fascinating when they’re supposed to be vacuuming or fleshing out that dreaded quarterly report.
The Love of Drama
Part of the allure of sites like Instagram and Facebook is the opportunity to be caught up in other people’s lives. While it’s nice to keep in touch with family and friends, many people find these sites to be major time wasters. Be honest with yourself, how many times have you lost track of time while scrolling through your newsfeed?
So What Can Be Done About Productivity?
For some people, knowing they have a problem is enough to get them back on the productivity straight-and-narrow. For most, however, knowing the pitfalls is only half the battle. Here are a few ways to overcome the things that keep you from getting stuff done.
- Set a Timer: This can be as simple as a kitchen timer or as convenient as an app on your phone, like one that features the Pomodoro Technique for time management. Decide how much time you want to spend on a task, say 15 minutes for social media and 30 minutes to answer your emails. Set a timer for each task, and when it goes off, you’re done. Done done.
- Limit Your Research: If you’re researching a subject for any reason, whether it’s a book report, a proposal for your boss or a great recipe for bouillabaisse, limit yourself to three to five sources. (You might need a few more for something in-depth, but you get the idea.)
- Good Old Self Discipline: This is something that most people have to work at, so fear not, you are not alone. However, there are some ways to get into the self-discipline habit. For example, let’s say you’re doing research and you come across an interesting article. Before you start to read, ask yourself if it really pertains to what you are researching. If not, save it or bookmark it for another time. If you think the article will be helpful, start reading it. About 2-3 minutes into it, stop and ask yourself again if it will add value to your current project. If not, STOP READING.
While spending time on the internet can be entertaining and even useful, over-indulging and losing track of time can seriously impact your productivity. The good news is that with a little self-control and few helpful tips, you can start to really get things done!