See if this scenario is familiar to you: You get up on a workday feeling relatively energetic and gung-ho to get stuff done, but by the time you switched on your computer – either at your home office or some location – your head just isn’t in the game. You spend 15 minutes adjusting this and that, and then the next hour mindlessly surfing the web.
As the things you see on your screen start to pique your interest, you are silently but firmly led down a series of rabbit holes… courtesy of the endless internet. You could start with sports scores from last night’s game and end up reading about Johnny Depp’s childhood. And this is all before you’ve even gotten to your email.
It feels like you’re very busy, but there’s a difference between being busy and getting stuff done. Our minds these days are a hive of activity, but much of that effort is being put to waste. It’s always been hard to learn to concentrate and this was the case before computers were invented.
The enormity and endlessness of the internet, however, has made things immeasurably more difficult. Concentrating now is the difference between an old-school boxing match and a battle with modern weapons. Unless you have a strategy and the right tools to help you fight, it’s very unlikely you’re going to be able to win via sheer willpower alone.
Among the biggest sources of both joy and time-wasting is YouTube. We love this site – and you probably also love this site. There’s so much information and entertainment to be had on YouTube. In fact, if you were forced to only have one internet channel, perhaps this is the one you’d pick.
But, of course, with much content comes much distraction. This is why millions of people around the world have begun downloading and using what are called blocking apps. Learning how to block YouTube on Chrome – or any other browser for that matter – is easy, as the app is free and with your permission after downloading, it syncs across all of your devices. Then you set it up, deciding what sites you wish to block and during or for what times.
Let’s take the scenario in the first paragraph. A good way to help get your head in the game when you get to work could be the knowledge that YouTube, social media sites, sports news, and virtually anything except work is blocked until noon. This removes a great deal of temptation and facilitates productivity. As they say, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ – Or perhaps in this case it might be ‘out of sight/site, out of mind.’
We hear people argue that willpower is a muscle that needs to be exercised to gain strength… and this idea rings true. But many of us often beat ourselves up after our willpower fails us – without realizing that the game is rigged.
If it was 1822 and you were having trouble controlling your urge to run over and read the encyclopedia – for example – well, perhaps you really do need some help. But it’s not 1822. It’s 2022. And in this time, we are flooded with expertly-crafted, scientifically proven formulas to get our attention.
Clickbait headlines, notifications, social media in general, banner ads, pop-ups, sales offers, unimportant news disguised as something serious, the list goes on and on. You can fight all of these with a single weapon a weapon you deploy on specific sites and at specific times. You make the choices: what you want to block and when you want to block it.
You could have your settings such that you allow yourself a window in the afternoon and in the evening where everything is open, and you can mindlessly surf for a couple of hours per day, in fact, this may even be a good idea. All work and no play does make for dull (and unhealthy) students and workers. But that surfing should come as a reward for a day well spent.
And spending your day right starts with getting into the right mind frame early on, and knocking out some of the items on your ‘to-do’ list to create a virtuous cycle of productivity. Once you notice you’re getting stuff done, you are more likely to feel encouraged to continue.
But if we spin our wheels first thing in the morning and never get into the flow, an entire day can pass without much getting accomplished, even though your mind might be filled with information. Put it this way: it’s possible to come home from work feeling exhausted…but without having actually done anything all day. Life is too short to get lost in the web. Use a site blocker to prioritize and concentrate.