Tuesday, November 3, 2009

6 strategies to beat time-wasters and keep yourself on task.

  1. Track time. You might not know exactly how bad your addiction is, because the time you spend on some of these sites just flies by. Try tracking your time, at least for a little while, to see where your problem areas are. Page Addict is one of a number of good utilities for this, and once you see your worst time-wasters, you can also use it for the next strategy.

  2. Block them. Once you've identified your worst time wasters, it's possible to block them with one of several utilities. Stealth Kiwi and Leech Block are two of my favorites.

  3. Unplug. Another strategy that actually works really well is to unplug from the Internet when you really need to get work done. When you finish you task, connect and have fun, then unplug again for some more serious work.

  4. Go on a diet. This is a more drastic strategy, but sometimes it's necessary if your addiction has gotten really bad. Disconnect yourself from the Internet for at least a day, if not 2-3 days or even a week. The worse your addiction, the longer your diet should be. After the period of complete disconnection, follow Strategy 6 below by going on an extremely limited information diet.

  5. Just let go. This strategy is for those of us who feel that if we don't answer all of our emails, or read all of our feeds, or check our blog stats, or see what's happening on our favorite social sites, then somehow the world will fall apart. Of course, we never put it that way in our head, but the urge is still there. But what happens if you just let go, and allow your email to pile up for a day, or don't check your stats or your favorite forum? The world will go on. This might seem obvious, but again, I think many of us have a subconscious idea that something bad will happen if we don't stay up to date. Try letting go for a day, and see what happens.

  6. Limit time. This is actually the most sensible strategy, but of course it's not easy if you have an addiction. Therefore, I recommend you use it in conjunction with one of the above strategies. For this strategy, you decide how many minutes and how many times you are going to allow yourself to go on your worst time-wasting sites. If email is your addiction, for example, you might decide to check email only twice a day for 30 minutes a session. Decide on what time limit would work best for you, put it on a schedule (10 a.m. and 4 p.m., for example), and stick to it. If you have trouble sticking to it, try one of the other strategies.