Productivity and the internet – or lack therof

In deciding which productivity and presentation tools to focus on for our presentation we knew we had to include the internet in our discussion. After all it is one of the biggest productivity tools in our modern day society isn’t it?

The truth is that the internet is one of the greatest tools in terms of getting things done. I can access information, shop, read and watch videos anytime anywhere with the use of the internet. I can send an email in a matter of minutes making it an efficient way to communicate and connect. Can’t get to a phone while at work? No problem, I can most likely email the person I am trying to get a hold of instead. There are countless ways that the internet improves productivity including mobility, inspiration, knowledge, networking, organization and recreation. However, as with many things there is a down side.

The downside is that the internet provides a wealth of information, connections and ways to “kill time” which creates distractions from the task at hand. As one author on lifehack put’s it,

Getting information from the net is like getting a cup of water, sitting under the Niagara falls. We certainly get a cup of water, the problem is that we also get far more than we need. – Tejvan Pettinger

The internet provides a vast amount of information which can be an amazing thing, but it can also be our biggest enemy. I’m sure you’ve found yourself frantically going back and forth  between multiple tabs checking social media, news and random websites that you’ve come across never really accomplishing much more than going in circles. If for some crazy you reason you don’t know what I’m talking about I’ll let James Hamblin explain.

The idea of #tablessthursday is one that I personally find to be a great idea. We are a society of multitaskers, however it has been proven over and over again that when we try to do two, three…or 10 things at once we are less efficient than if we focus on one task at a time. Why do you think distracted drivers get into so many accidents?

Amy wrote a great post reflecting on how often she finds herself multitasking, not just while using the internet, but while cooking, getting kids ready or just thinking. As humans, it seems to be natural for our minds to wander and to have it running 100 miles a minute. From a very young age we have been training our brains to focus and pay attention to the task at hand. This seems to be increasingly difficult to do as we have so many distractions from social media, the internet, tv, radio etc. etc.

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Photo Credit: rishibando Flickr via Compfight cc

So how do we combat the constant urge to multitask? The answer…mindfulness. We need to be conscious of the way we are managing our time and the number of tasks we are trying to accomplish at a time. There a number of ways that we can combat multitasking and start single-tasking. One suggestion is to start by making one small change. This can be as simple as not checking emails during breakfast and focus on eating the foods that are nourishing your body. Do you find yourself checking Facebook when you should be working? Try a website blocker such as Cold Turkey to help you block these distractions.

Photo Credit: danielfoster437 Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: danielfoster437 Flickr via Compfight cc

The internet is certainly a productivity tool in my life. I am able to connect with people more efficiently for work, I can shop, I can find resources and activities for school and the list goes on. I don’t think that we can say that the internet isn’t a productivity tool. It most certainly is, but when we use it with no focus it can quickly become a big waste of time. We need to be conscious of what we are doing and minimize distractions by focusing on one task at a time. We like to think that multitasking is helping us but you might want to read why single tasking will make you smarter before you continue to attempt multitasking.

I find that with so much on the go I am getting better at single-tasking. I need to make use of my time wisely and I have found that multitasking doesn’t work for me. I make a list, use website blockers and set my phone aside to help keep me on track. What are some ways that you attempt to be more productive while using the internet? I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Vintuitive Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Vintuitive Flickr via Compfight cc

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13 thoughts on “Productivity and the internet – or lack therof

  1. Pingback: To Tab or Not to Tab – Connections

  2. I try and stay on task on the internet by using post it notes. I feel successful crossing off the list as I complete each task. Working in smaller chunks of time and in the morning seems to work for me. I will be looking into ‘cold turkey’. Thanks for the great post.

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  3. GREAT post Ashley! You bring a lot of really great ideas together in this post, all the while summing up the notion of the Internet as a productivity tool. Mindfulness is so important, and I don’t think we give it as much value as it should, particularly in schools. We almost promote the idea of doing multiple things at once because ‘efficiency’ is such an important skill. But efficiency, like you said, does not necessarily mean doing all the things at once, but rather doing one thing at a time well and then moving on to the next thing. This is definitely something I need to do more in my life, and something I should try to promote more in the classroom. Thanks again for the great post! Also, congrats on the great presentation this week! Nice to be done, hey?

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    • Sorry for the late reply Liz, things have been crazy as of late. I read all the comments last week but never had a chance to reply. It’s all about mindfulness and that’s something we need to use in so many aspects of our lives, not just in regards to using the internet. And it feels awesome to be done!

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  4. There is certainly so,etching to the current buzz around mindfulness isn’t there! I have times where I feel productive having multitasked my way through something I needed to do. However there are also times when I’m trying to multitask and have accomplished next to nothing. Thanks for sharing the single task article I’m going to check it out and see how it works!

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  5. I just realized that it is hard to single-task even when reading a blog post! I immediately opened your “cold turkey” link and realized I was no long single-tasking! I am really intrigued by a website blocker though. I plan to check this out this week.

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    • Isn’t that the truth? But how can you possibly singletask when a blog has links embedded? I feel as though that’s a purposeful/acceptable way to multitask. It’s related to the task at hand so I would consider it single tasking 😉

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  6. I think putting your phone aside is huge. There more we become part of the digital world, the more notifications we get. I need to put my phone away – out of reach or sometimes even out of site in order to accomplish more. Another way I try to accomplish more at school is by not having my email open during times when I am focusing in to try and finish a particular task.

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    • I agree that our phones are a big distraction from a lot of things. I have said a few times that I want to start charging my phone outside of my room in the evening so that I’m not on it before bed and first thing in the morning. Maybe today is the day…the start of a new month. Could be a great blog post.

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  7. Pingback: Separated by distance, connected through a screen – online education. | Ashley Murray

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