Since the days of squawking modems and AOL trial-runs, the Internet has been credited with fantastic gains in workplace productivity —but what about gains in counter-productivity?
For all its wonders, isn’t the technology equally responsible for countless daytime hours squandered scrolling through status updates and comment sections?
Research on whether office Internet access encourages procrastination is surprisingly mixed. Last year, a University of Melbourne study found that nine-to-fivers who spent around a fifth of their workday browsing for leisure were actually more productive than those who didn’t.
But according to Dr. Tim Pychyl, a time management researcher at the University of Ottawa, it’s clear that for the procrastination-prone dawdling among us, the Internet is a raging beehive of distractions.
“If you get to a point where your use of the Internet is keeping you at your desk too long, or is interfering with relationships, or is causing you to miss deadlines, then that’s a problem,” he warns.
You may be so busy self-Googling that you’re not even aware of it.
“When you’re at your computer, you feel like you’re working,” notes Generation Y career guide Lindsey Pollak. “So even if you’re playing on Facebook or online shopping, you can almost trick yourself into thinking you’re not procrastinating.”
To cut down on dilly-dallying, researchers recommend “batching” your leisure browsing into one 20-minute binge every hour or two.
“I’ll work straight for an hour, and at the end of that hour, I’ll batch all my Facebook checking, Twitter and whatever I need to do for 15-20 minutes,” Pollak offers.
And once the 20 minutes are up? Quit the browser, turn off the AirPort Card, even unplug the Ethernet cable and tie it into a Gideon’s knot if necessary.
“Get as radical as you need to be,” Pollak suggests.