The Internet is a fantastic resource there is no disputing that – it has opened the world out and made it a smaller place, it keeps us connected to one another and it puts heaps of facts and resources at our fingertips. But the Internet is not always our friend and here’s why:
1) Mindless surfing – how many of us have wasted hour upon hour in mindless site surfing when we are supposed to be working on something important? You start off looking something up and before you know it an hour or more has passed and you find yourself watching videos of cats chasing alligators on You Tube.
2) Anti-social networking – countless hours each week are lost to social networking sites, so many that many employers have banned their employees from using sites like Facebook at work. I have definitely wasted time chatting and posting comments when I am supposed to be working.
3) The curse of email – endless email checking is a sure way to decrease or even kill your productivity levels. We need emails for work but do we really need to check them four or five times an hour? I am guilty of sending personal emails when I am supposedly checking my work emails – almost as bad as texting on the job!
4) Stop Twittering – Twitter is another social media tool that can take over your life. Constant updates from the people who you have subscribed to can be distracting. Do you really need to be posting every detail of your life online? When you are supposed to be working try and limit your posting and switch your Twitter feed off.
5) Instant messaging hell – if you want to be productive then the first thing you should do is turn your Internet messaging (IM) off. You wouldn’t text every few minute while you are working (or would you?) but IM amounts to the same thing and can be incredibly distracting. How can you write your masterwork when your best friend is constantly telling you about her crappy day?
6) Playing games – online games are a huge time waster, even the ones like brain training that masquerade as something that is good for you are just as addictive as any other game.
7) Inspiration tools – sites such as Pinterest are great for providing inspiration and resources when you are stuck, but they also work equally well as procrastination tools and use up huge swathes of your time. One minute you are looking for decorating ideas the next you are looking at pictures of otters holding hands.
8) Wickedpedia – Wikipedia love it or hate it, it’s certainly a useful resource. But one of the things you need to watch out for is misleading articles – quote from the wrong source and you not only get your facts wrong but you could have wasted hours of work.
9) The money trap – what better way to waste hours of your working time than by shopping online. Sites like Ebay and Amazon are full of enticing offers to keep you away from your work.
10) Job sites – like them or loathe them job sites are here to stay, but weren’t things simpler when you could just pick up the local paper and spend ten minutes looking at the jobs? Now we can spend hours trawling though thousands of jobs all over the country. There are also countless sites devoted to volunteering. Scotland, England and Wales all have fantastic opportunities – if you must search online make use of the website’s search facilities – narrow your search by area, type of job etc. Are you seriously going to take a job three hundred miles away?
Sam Wright is a freelance journalist and a habitual user of online procrastination tools.