“The most dangerous distractions are the ones you love, but that don’t love you back.” — Warren Buffett
Do you ever catch yourself looking at the clock on your computer, only to realize that a few hours have gone by and you still haven’t started on a single task?
You’ve been sitting at your computer, yet not a single piece of productive work has been completed. Why?
You’re caught in the endless cycle of mindlessly browsing the internet. And this cycle is having devastating consequences to your productivity. In a recent survey from CareerBuilder, up to 3 hours of each workday are lost to smartphones and other distractions, including the internet.
You want to be more productive. You want to complete your “to-do” list. You want to stop wasting so much of your time. You just can’t seem to break the cycle of distractions and mindless browsing, so today I am going to share with you three strategies that helped me and will help you too.
How to Stop Mindlessly Browsing the Internet:
1. Be mindful and sit with your urges
To stop the cycle we need to identify where it begins, and it usually begins with an urge or compulsion to procrastinate. Mindfulness is the antidote to urges. When you notice yourself about to open a new tab to check Facebook, take a pause, take a breath and notice what’s happening; it’s in this space that you now have the choice to make a conscious choice of how you live your life. Stopping the cycle begins by developing more self-awareness and using mindfulness to identify your urges and compulsions.
2. Focus on engagement, not entertainment
Mindless browsing also comes from a desire to be entertained and receive instant gratification. If you check Facebook maybe you have a notification that can give you a quick rush of dopamine. Or maybe your friend has posted a new photo to Instagram. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that!?
The problem is that entertainment is shallow and instant gratification is fleeting. It might work to stimulate you in the moment but it’s not going to provide you with the fulfilment you are truly looking for.
Focus instead of the goals and dreams you have. When you catch yourself as we’ve talked about in step 1, you want to remind yourself what your goals are and why they are important to you. To do this, keep a notepad next to you with your goals listed and read it every time you want to procrastinate. Is checking Facebook for a fifth time this hour really helping you achieve your goals? The goals you know deep down you want to achieve?
3. Create space for success
Finally, you want to set yourself up for success by creating space for it. Recently I found myself getting distracted on Twitter more often than I would prefer, with the craziness of the U.S. election always providing something new to “care” about in the moment.
So I decided to take dramatic action and change the way I interact with Twitter. I didn’t want to block the site completely, and need access to it during the day, but I did mute almost all of my followers so when I log-on to reply to someone, my timeline is empty.
If you want to be less distracted, and avoid the potential for the mindless browsing cycle to begin, you need to set yourself up for success. The more you’re exposed to different opportunities to be distracted, the more you will take them up on it and be distracted.
One of the easiest ways to create space for success is by installing a website blocker for the websites that you have a problem with, including social media and news websites. FocusMe can help you with that, as can extensions like the Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator.
For more tips on how to stop mindlessly browsing the internet, watch my video on YouTube.
About the Author
Cam Adair is the founder of Game Quitters, the world’s largest support community for video game addiction. A motivational speaker, his story has been featured in two TEDx Talks and on FOX, CW, and VICE, amongst others. Today Cam shares weekly videos on YouTube, and in his spare time he enjoys traveling, DJing and surfing. Cam currently lives in San Diego, California. You can connect with him on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and to book Cam for a speaking engagement, contact CAMPUSPEAK.