While you are busy at work, the internet can be a blessing and a curse. The internet has allowed us to access information from across the globe in seconds when proper research would’ve taken much longer previously. Typing is a lot quicker than writing out the words using pen and paper, no matter how well you’ve mastered cursive, and it has the benefit of backspacing. Computers will soon be able to process information faster than the human brain.

However, working on the computer also has its disadvantages. With the whole internet at your disposal, it can be easy to get distracted and off task. You might start off double-checking a figure or responding to a work email, but end up learning why we have leap years or reading through a novel-length spam message instead. How do you avoid these distractions and instead take advantage of the increased productivity computers offer?

Pick the Right Music

With the popularization of many music streaming services, many of us listen to music while we work. This has been shown to help us focus on tasks that we find boring since it drowns out any external stimulation. Instead of the focusing on the sound of our coworker’s nail-biting, we can focus on the task at hand. This is only effective if we pick music that we like, or otherwise, we’ll go back to being bored.

On the other hand, there’s evidence that some music, whether we enjoy it or not, is just plain distracting, particularly if we’re trying to focus on a task we’ve never done before or one that requires intense analysis. Music with lyrics is especially difficult to block out because our brains naturally want to interpret language. Balancing all these factors can be a little challenging: it has to be music that you like, but not with too many lyrics, but also not if you’re focusing on a grueling task. How can you find music that will let you stay productive?

The solution for many is video game soundtracks. This music is deliberately designed to drown out the outside world and motivate players through a task. It also usually lacks lyrics. Spend some time finding a soundtrack that is particularly pleasing to you, and save it to your work computer, so you’ll always have a go-to playlist to get through those monotonous tasks.

Avoid Notifications

There you are, plodding along in the workday, when a helpful notification pops up on your screen saying that Mom just posted on your wall. You click it, happy for the momentary distraction from your workday, but then you get sucked into the vortex of social media. You can manage your notification preferences under your browser, but this doesn’t help disable any mobile notifications.

Cell phones are expensive, so understandably you want to keep it close by to make sure that none of your coworkers “find” a new phone. However, they can also be very distracting. While some people use apps to help with their work, you likely don’t need it if you’re sitting at your desk. Limit your app usage on your phone to when you’re out of the office and something pressing comes up. Otherwise, find a way to avoid the temptation to check your phone for notifications. You can turn it off, secure it in a cell phone locker, or keep it in your car for the day.

Silence the Web

If you are especially vulnerable to temptation, there are plenty of apps or extensions that will completely cut off the internet. If you still need the internet for some work functions, apps like Anti-Social or Freedom can specifically disable Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other time-sucking sites. This can sufficiently focus your attention on the tasks at the hand.

Additionally, you can try to do as much of your work off the web as possible. Check to see if the software you use has an offline mode or if you can use an offline platform for your initial work and transfer it later. If you explain that you are trying to boost your productivity, it’s unlikely that anyone, especially your boss, will give you any problems. In fact, they might even be impressed by your efforts!

Focusing on the task at hand can be difficult, especially with the entire world wide web at your fingertips. The internet can be our greatest tool for productivity, but it is also a hindrance. Some people are able to avoid the potential distraction, but if you find yourself losing hours to social media or click bait, then make sure to utilize the tips above. Staying productive will not only lower your stress level, it’ll invite praise and recognition from your superiors, and who doesn’t want to move up the ladder?

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