Group Interview – Distraction Free Internet

The internet can help your productivity, but it can also be a distraction. How do you obtain the benefits while avoiding the downsides?.

I finally had to do two things that are working for me:

  1. In the Bookmark Bar, I narrowed the categories to only those related to business.
  2. I allow myself a set amount of time (20 minutes) to check the newsfeeds and other favorite sites for 20 minutes maximum 4 times during the day. On minute 21, I close the browser window.That means I potentially “lose” 1:20 minutes of work. As a result of the routine, it never amounts to that much.

Steve Roesler from All Things Workplace (rss)

Steve’s suggestion to allow a certain amount of time for “unproductive” browsing is a good one. It is easier to stay focuses if you’ve already used up your allocated browsing time, than if you’ve just decided you aren’t going to do any browsing at all.

Assign your e-mail/internet to a specific time during your workday. If you train yourself to only answer e-mail/check the internet at certain times, it prevents random surfing when you need to do work.
Scott H Young from (rss)

This can be a very useful practice as well. You can schedule your web browsing for times of day when you aren’t at your peak productivity anyway. For example, right after lunch.

I track my time using the web-based timers we built into Intervals.Having done this for a while, I know how many hours I should have tracked by the end of the day. If I check my timesheet midday and see only 3 hours tracked, I know I lost an hour to distractions and need to focus more on work. There are so many distractions out there, it really helps to quantify my time each day. My coworkers track their time using Intervals, too, so there is a competitive feeling in the air that helps us stay focused. I’m going to work better knowing that we’ll go over everyone’s timesheets in our weekly meeting. The key here is that I’ve had to discipline myself to focus on work and ignore distractions. I did it using timers, but it doesn’t matter what you use as long as you can learn to stay focused.
John Reeve from Intervals find time (rss)

Peer pressure is a powerful motivator. :)

The internet is no different from any other tool, i.e. you can make any tool be a distraction! The way I obtain benefits while avoiding the downside is to make sure I know what I have to do for work. I chunk my work into small pieces, so I always have a way to make progress.
Johanna Rothman from Managing Products Development (rss)

Personally I find I can stay more focused when I feel like I’m making, small but continuous progress. When I’m completing a bunch of smaller tasks in regular intervals, it is a lot easier to stay focused and “in the zone” than when I’m working on a large project where I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress for the last 4 hours.

First of all I only use websites and online applications that will provide value and help me achieve my objectives. If you signup to every new social site or web application that is launched you will end up wasting a lot of time.Secondly, focus on one thing at a time. If you are writing something it would be a good idea to turn off your IM client, for instance.
Daniel Scocco from Daily Bits (rss)

I’m generally pretty careful what social networking tools I invest time in. I’ve been amazed at how many friends I have who sign up for every new application that comes out (and then invite me). I constantly wonder how they have time to get anything else done.

It’s a constant struggle. One of the ways that I’ve found to curb distractions is to set time limits and schedules. For example, I check my RSS feed reader twice a day, for 15 minutes each time. I start by
reading the blogs that are of highest priority to me and then comb through the others as time permits. When the 15 minutes have passed, I select “mark all as read” and close down the reader.
Erin PJDoland from Unclutterer (rss)

This is a great strategy for dealing with RSS feeds. If you practice this, you probably won’t miss anything important, but you’ll keep your news reader from becoming a huge time sink. I like having my reader setup so I can read it from my Blackberry. That way I can catch up on feeds while I wait for appointments, etc.

Well, I try to limit extra Internet “white noise” as much as possible. I pull this off by limiting my IM, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and any other outside chatter that puts the brakes on my productivity. Also, I think overly complicated productivity systems can get in the way as well. Constantly trying and “tweaking” your productivity setup can be a huge time sink and always keeps you looking for the next best thing. I try to combat this by switching or changing my productivity system only when something is really not needing my needs. Otherwise, I try to stick it out.
Glen Stansberry from LifeDev (rss)

A lot of the value of a productivity system comes from having a system–not having a superior system. If you invest 30 hours in finding the perfect notebook to write your tasks, it is unlikely that you’ll gain those hours back over just using typing paper. It is easy to feel like you are becoming more productive because you are working on your system, but sometimes it is just a form of procrastination.


  1. Louise says

    I went so far as to install actual content blocking software on my computer at work. I block all news, shopping, finance, email, communications, and non-work related sites. I set time-based permissions so I have a half hour at lunchtime where I can check personal mail and a half hour at the end of the day. If I try to visit a prohibited website, I redirect myself to a page that says “stop procrastinating!” It’s very effective for me. Paying attention to a timer to see what I’m doing isn’t the problem — changing my behavior is the issue, and the software helps immensely.

    It’s true that I can turn the software off if I really need to, but the time it takes to launch the management console and enter a password is enough to keep me from indulging unless it’s truly important (e.g. bank emergency or something).

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