Internet and Easy Access to Information
Like it or not, the internet is a powerful time waster for both personal time and work time. Everyone knows the power of the internet has in terms of information storage, research and entertainment. It really has changed the way the world gets information, interacts with information and processes information. It has definitely made people more productive and has helped people get the information that they need quickly, efficiently and less expensively than before. It has exploded the amount of knowledge available to people the world over. With the internet, people could read content that previously they did not have access to. It used to be very expensive to access from one part of the country to another. There are no borders when it comes to the internet. It is a giant library and it is open to everybody. Also you could access news from hundreds of thousands of sources from all over the globe and from different angles, videos and entertainment can be reached at a click of a button, and Facebook and Twitter have really exploded social networks and how people interacts with family and acquaintances online and made information interchange among these people much more efficient and fast.
Negative Effects of Internet Surfing
With all that said, the internet could be very time consuming of both your personal time, leisure time and work time. If handled incorrectly, inefficient internet surfing can endanger your career progress because of the lowered productivity that inefficient internet surfing can produce. Inefficient internet use could also mean less time for personal matters for your family or for your other personal interests. It also leads to lowered personal productivity overall. Regardless of work productivity, your overall personal effectiveness in terms of being able to multitask different activities and your ability to stick to a schedule, all of these could be damaged by habitually inefficient and ineffective internet time management. Finally, this inefficient web surfing can also fuel attention deficit or short attention span issues. This cannot be overlooked because the instantaneous access to information that the internet provides, personal impatience and short attention spans are made worse by the internet. This again feeds into problems in other parts of your life. It leads to impatience to other parts of your life and may lead to bad decision making skills and bad career choices. Any crucial personal matter that requires patience, balanced thinking and delayed gratification would be impacted by your shortened attention span or attention deficit made worse by bad internet surfing habits.
To get on the road to more efficient internet time management, follow these simple but effective tips to get your online surfing under control.
Write a Schedule of your Internet Usage
1) This is a timed schedule, so whether you are at work or you are using personal time, list out beginning time and ending time for when you are going to use the internet. Within this block of time, chop it up into sub-sections on what you wish to accomplish within this block of time. This method keeps you focused as to why you are using the internet for a specific period of time in the first place. By being mentally focused, you can then efficiently go through the tasks that you have set for yourself online and you can then stop internet usage at a particular time. This builds discipline and focus. Make sure that you do not exceed the times that you allotted within these blocks because this would defeat the whole purpose. Remember that the whole point behind this tip is to make you an effective internet user and help you achieve your surfing objectives effectively and build self-discipline by working within fixed time parameters.
Write a List of Things to do
2) Write a navigation list of where you need to go and do not stray from this list. This method uses a more flexible scheduling system unlike tip #1. While tip #1 uses a fixed block of time, this method does not use a fixed block of time but focuses more on a fixed list of objectives. The limit to your internet time is your objective list. Think of this as setting up a to-do list for online activities. Just like in offline to-do list, you feel better about yourself when you scratch off items from your list. You feel more productive and your attention is focused. You feel that your time was well spent. You reap the same psychological benefits when you use this method. However, for this method to be effective, your navigation list must be definite and specific. You have to really specifically list the sites where you are going to go. It would be more helpful if you list specific websites, but if not, describe the particular site you are going to. What this specific listing does is it focuses your mind on just these particular sites. Do not be over broad in your listing of the sites. Do not list whole categories or do not describe the sites that you need to go to in very ambiguous terms because any ambiguity can lead to confused internet experience and then you just end up wasting a lot of time just “researching around” and not really accomplishing anything. By focusing your internet surfing activities to within these fixed parameters, it helps you become more thorough in your web browsing and you are less prone to wander.
How to navigate a website more effeciently
3) Be a fast data extractor. When you are navigating websites, you have to train your eyes to scan quickly to zero in on the information you are looking for. This tip helps you become a more effective and efficient web surfer and web researcher by training you to quickly get the information that you are looking for and get out. This saves you time and keeps you from getting distracted which wastes your time. How do you become a fast data extractor? After scanning, use your browser search function to quickly search the area of the page you are looking to get info from. For example, if you are looking for shoes on shopping directory page, instead of reading the whole page, just click CTRL+F in Firefox or the search function in Internet Explorer and just type in shoes. Your attention then gets directed to the specific part of the page that has the information you are looking for. Once you are in a page, scheme the articles quickly. A lot of the times, most blog posts and articles are written in small blocks, but even this formatting still takes up too much time. Scheme them quickly, look at the title, look at the subheadings and look at textual markers to let you know what the context of the content is. If it looks like something you are looking for, read swiftly the area that is relevant to what you are searching for. In your mind, summarize the block of text rapidly and quickly determine if this is useful for your purposes. What you are trying to avoid here is being suck into irrelevant materials by dwelling too much on intricate details or supporting evidence that you do not really need once you get the information that you came to get in the first place. A lot of these blog articles or blog posts and articles in resource sites are written like pyramids. The most important part is at the top and the rest is support. The more you get sucked in to the supporting materials, the longer time you take, but most of the time, the information you are looking for is usually found already at the top of the pyramid. Spend less time being sucked in to supporting details or background details, and this would really cut down your internet browsing time.
When Not to click an External Link
4) Do not click external links. Related to avoiding being sucked into supporting details, external links are normally used to provide support or provide background information to text that you are looking for. A lot of the times, if you have already found the text that you are interested in, there is no need to click an external link because that would just be extra information and just surplus information that does not really add value to the information that you already got in the first place. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the information that you are looking for is not really on the page that you are examining and there is an external link that discusses in more detail the information that you are searching, you can click the link and this is find more relevant information. Again the key consideration here is does the external link repeat or just give more background information to the information you already have or does it lead to the information that you are looking for, or is it a better fit. If it is a better fit or it is more relevant, then by all means click on the link and get the correct information. Otherwise, do not click external links.
When Not to Click on Internet Advertising
5) Do not click ads. Similar to the reasons for not clicking external links, you should not also click ads unless they contain information that you are specifically looking for or they are related to products and services that add value to the material that you are researching for. For example, if you are looking for personal statements for educational admission purposes and an ad sense free writing guides appears with a content that probably might make sense to click because it leads you to more value added information. Again just like with clicking external links, the key here is to look for advertising information that adds value to your research. If it does not, ignore the ad.
Block Websites that are of no Interest
6) Block “time waster sites.” This is kind of a brute force approach to internet surfing time management, but sometimes you need brute force methods to get the job done and keep you from wasting valuable work or personal leisure time.
How do you block websites that waste your time?
Web Browser Plugins
A) Install plug-ins that blocks websites. Firefox has a plug-in called block site. You just install this plug-in and you enter in the list of websites that you do not want to visit and Firefox automatically does not go to those websites. The great thing about using a plug-in to block websites is that you can easily activate them when you are working or when you have pressing research that you need to do or that you are not using leisure time and then deactive it when you have personal time or when you are off-work time, or if you are a freelancer when you are back to non-project time. Plug-ins can be easily activated and deactivated and you just need to restart your browser every time you activate or deactive a plug-in, a quick and easy solution. The downside is they are not as effective as the other blocking methods discussed below. Sometimes they do not block subdomains or there is a certain glitch in the plug-in’s programming, so websites that you wanted to block still manage to appear on your browser.
System Host Files
B) Edit your hosts file. Depending on your operating system, you would have a hosts file in your computer. Windows Systems use hosts file. This method of blocking time waster sites works best with XP. What you do is just find your hosts file in your Windows XP and you just list the domains that you do not want access to and it works like a charm. Your browser automatically does not go to that website. Even subdomains are blocked, so it is really very effective. The problem with this method is most people are no longer using XP. They have moved on to Windows Vista and Windows 7. It is tricker to edit the hosts file. You need to use Microsoft Note Pad to edit the hosts file in Vista and Windows 7 and you need to edit the file as admin. You have to right click and click the menu option of edit as admin. It is a little bit trickier, but it can be done.
Open DNS and Other DNS Providers
C) Use open DNS. If you use a third party DNS provider like open DNS, they will automatically block time waster sites for you. In addition to specific websites that you list for blocking, they also block websites in terms of categories. This is a very effective way of blocking unwanted sites. The drawback with this method is that it may b over broad because there are websites that are categorized as time wasters that may not be time wasters to you because different people define time wasters differently. The good news is that open DNS has a listing system where you can unlist categories and fine tune the categories, so it is more flexible and fits your particular browsing habits.
Software to Block Certain Websites or Specific Content
D) Another approach is to install a Software like an Internet Monitoring Software or a Parental Control Software, often these are used for businesses or parents but more applications see’s the light for the personal reason of managing time a bit more effectively while on the internet.
The problem with blocking time waster sites is that webpages are often collections of different pieces of content from different sites. For example, if you are looking at an article that has a video embedded form YouTube and you are blocking YouTube and the information you are searching for is rooted in reference to a YouTube video, you maybe shooting yourself in the foot by blocking YouTube. Just keep this in mind when blocking websites. Make sure that they are completely time wasters or you can unblock them quickly if they by chance, like YouTube instructional video, is referenced in an article that you have been looking for.
The conclusion of better internet management
While the internet could be a very powerful research and information research tool, it can be quite a potent time waster as well. If you do not want ineffective or inefficient internet surfing habits to negatively impact your career, your business or your personal time, use the practical tips above to get control of your time on the internet. Use these tips to boost your productivity and personal efficiency online.