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Working Online? Overcome the Distractions of the World Wide Web

| July 12, 2013 | 4 Comments

Whats-Distracting-YouAs a young entrepreneur in these modern times, you know how important the internet has become in business. If you know about and utilize the incredible tools available at your fingertips, you also probably know all too well how distracting the web can be while you are doing work online. The problem is that the internet is a tool for work but also a source of entertainment. Once you learn how to overcome the distractions online, you will become more efficient in your work.

Here are some tips for how you can overcome distractions and get your work done online:

Discipline Your Smart Phone

Cell phone technology has skyrocketed so much lately that many people use their phones to browse the web more than their PC. Apps and tools allow almost every online account to be synced to your phone. My advice is that you should sync your business emails and accounts to alert you while you are at work, but turn off those alerts while you are at home. The same goes the other way around. Turn off the synced alerts for your personal emails and social media accounts while you are at work, and turn them on when you get home.

In order to minimize other distractions from your phone, limit calls and texts from family and friends while you are working. Many people work online in an in-home office, so it can be easy to drop the task at hand and go have a phone conversation. Pick up the phone if you must, but tell them you’re working and that you’ll call them back later.

Set a Timer

Working online can be likened to cooking food. When cooking, you always set a timer so you do not burn the food. If you do not set a timer and leave the food in too long, the food will burn. Burnt food is not something anyone enjoys and is practically useless. What can we learn from this simple lesson? Set a timer!

Time is money in the business world, so spending too much time on something can make you lose all your profits. If you spend too much time working on one project online, the time spent will cancel out your profits and you might as well have not even started in the first place. Don’t get caught with burnt food in the oven (or lost profits) and set a timer. When you begin a task, think of the amount of time you want to spend on it, then set the timer! There are free online timers  that you can keep up at the top of your desktop.There is something about a visible ticking clock that provides motivation to work faster.

Make a List of Your Tasks

This seems like a no-brainer, but this is one of the best ways to manage tasks online. You can download sticky notes on your computer to “stick” to your desktop. Sticky notes can be placed on the side of the screen and provide a great reminder system. Before you begin work in the morning, create a list of the tasks that you need to complete for that day. Having a visual list of the things you need to do can help you stay focused throughout the day. As you complete each task, check it off or cross it out. Progressing down your list and crossing things off will give you motivation to keep going. 

Prioritize Your Tasks 

Prioritizing your tasks will help you straighten out what is most important and will guarantee that you get it done first. Emails, conference calls, social media, and other online work can become jumbled, so prioritize them by importance and stick to your schedule. Categorize each task into what is good, better, and best. Begin with the things that would be best for you to do, then work your way down.

Forget Social Media

Unless of course you are using social media for work, don’t even log in during your work hours. Precious work hours can be lost from just “checking” Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Separating your personal life and work can be difficult if you work from home or online, but it will make all the difference in your work performance. Personal updates from social media can be distracting because looking at one picture of your friend’s vacation can turn into browsing the whole album. Replying to one direct message can lead to a full on conversation. Reserve entertainment from social media for after work.

Do Not Swamp Yourself

You only have 24 hours in a day. Most work days are 8-10 hours. Utilize this time to maximize your work efficiency, but do not take on too much responsibility to the point that you are overwhelmed. Manage your time and tasks so you can work well but without feeling swamped. It is easy to bounce from one task to another on the computer, thanks to the unlimited number of tabs you can have open at once. Feeling overwhelmed with things to accomplish will make you jump between tasks and it will make it harder to finish everything you need to do.

These strategies for overcoming distractions while working online will help you increase your work productivity and efficiency. Be sure to implement them into your daily work routine and you will notice yourself becoming less distracted as you work online.

Laurel is a professional content publicist who spends a majority of her time online.  This article was co-authored by her and Park Landscaping in Edmonton [http://www.parklandscaping.ca/]. With more and more companies spending valuable time online it is very important to understand just how to use this time effectively and not get distracted.

Image Credit: thepathbetweenthestars.wordpress.com

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  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Laura– I have zero push notifications to my phone (except text messages), have deleted snapchat b/c it’s too tempting to send funny pictures all day, and try to keep the number of apps in line with my minimalist beliefs.

    Online I only open my Tweetdeck a few times a day, and use Pocket to save things to read later. I try not to keep too many open tabs.

    My habit of the week I’m trying to mold is reading real books before bed instead of iBooks, Facebook, and Instagram. I need to disconnect.

    Lastly– when I’m on my computer it’s for work. When I’m on my iPad, I do my fun stuff like browse the web, read, watch videos, etc… making this mental shift has really helped me stay focused.

    Hope this helps.

  • cesar romero

    Laura, these are all great tips and thanks for sharing. One important thing I’m implementing lately is that before jumping online, have a clear purpose of what I’m trying to accomplish and write it down; is it work? entertainment? research? etc. Once I’m clear of why I’m going online, I set a timer for 30 minutes or what I like to call “the 30-minutes hack” and concentrate on the task at hand for 30 minutes; after those 30 minutes expire, I evaluate my progress and determine what course of action to take next.

  • http://www.callboxinc.co.uk/ Hannah Hamilton

    Great tips Laurel! I believe that Internet is not distracting it depends on the person if he/she will tolerate it or prevent it. Every time, I worked in front of the computer, there are a lots of distractions online like social media, email, games and etc. however, I manage not to get repel and discipline myself. :)

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