Stop Procrastinating on the Internet

Sometimes, all it takes is one click and you're down the rabbit hole of unrelated junk. To help you avoid such procrastination when online, you can learn how to use software to block your access to a few problem sites, or all of them. Also, learn concrete strategies for limiting your access in other ways. Stay focused when you need to use the Internet.


Using Internet Blocking Software

  1. Try the Stop Procrastinating app. This software is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, providing three options that will either cut you off completely from the Internet or filter distracting websites while allowing you to continue to browse. You can download it from their website and install it following its instructions. To use this software, you can set a time limit. This limit can be as short as one minute and as long as 24 hours, depending on how long you want to be disconnected.
    • This software also allows you to disconnect your computer completely from the Internet. That means you can't use email or browse social media. You can also choose a blacklist of specific websites, so you can still use the Internet to find more important stuff.
    • This app also allows you to write down a work goal or time limit, which you can customize.[1]
  2. Use Mac Freedom. This app is compatible with Windows and Macs, locking you away from the Internet by blocking all internet activity on your computer. You can download it from the website and install following its instructions.
    • Mac Freedom gives one option to block all Internet access on your computer for a particular amount of time. To use the application, you pick an amount of time you want to be locked out of the internet for, from 15 minutes up to eight hours.
    • You also have the option to choose local or normal mode. Click local mode if you still require access to your local network. Then, click okay.
    • Freedom also has a scheduler so you can block time for a week in advanced when you want the Internet to be blocked.[2]
  3. Try RescueTime. This app is compatible with Windows and Macs, allowing you to disconnect from distracting websites, set goals, and send an alarm when you have spent too much time on a distracting website.
    • This app allows you to become aware of your own bad habits by changing your computer use and reducing inefficiencies. If you ever wondered where all that time went, RescueTime will tell you that you have just spent two hours on Facebook, or YouTube, or other offenders.
    • Set goals that you want to achieve for the day. You can view in a report generated later whether you achieved them. Then use the website filter to allow you to block the most distracting websites for a period of time.[3]
  4. Explore other time-management apps. On your mobile phone, there are lots of apps available that allow you to customize different timeframes and budget your time more effectively, helping you to stay more focused while you're working.[4] While these don't block your access to the Internet, they're quick and easy ways to keep yourself on task. Here's a list of apps you can check out:
    • Self Control
    • Vitamin R
    • Yelling Mom
    • Finish
    • Procraster
    • AppDetox
    • Beat Procrastination
    • Concentrate
    • Avoiding Procrastination 101

Limiting Your Access in Other Ways

  1. Turn off your Wi-Fi port. If you don't want to use software or an app, do it yourself. Shut off your Internet access for a while. Switch off the Wi-Fi port on your computer, so your Internet access will be cut off until you turn it back on. If you plug in directly, unplug your computer so you won't have access to the Internet. Plug it back in when you need it for something important.
  2. Separate yourself physically from your computer and phone. If you need to study and you don't need the Internet, don't use your computer or mobile device at all. It's so easy to flip over to Facebook or check your e-mail and end up wasting 15 minutes, or even longer, when you didn't even intend to.
    • To reduce the possibility that you'll be able to make a procrastination mistake, put your phone in a drawer, or turn it off.
    • Keep your computer in your bag, or switched off. If you need the Internet, switch it on only for what you need to do, then switch it back off.
    • Better yet, make a note of what you need to look up and look it up later.
  3. Work in public. For some people, working in public is an excellent way of avoiding procrastination. In some places, public Wi-Fi is hard to come by. This means you might be able to find a spot and work without the ability to even use the Internet. Likewise, sometimes the Wi-Fi is too slow to do much but work. Find a place you can't YouTube.
    • For some people, it's important to look busy in public. The thought of being caught shopping online or watching a goofy video can be embarrassing. If that sounds like you, try posting up in a public place like a coffee shop or library to work. Keep yourself honest.
  4. Get rid of the Internet at your house. If you find the lure of the Internet too tempting, you might find it worthwhile to cancel your service entirely. Go to the library to work online when you need to. Find other ways to entertain yourself in your free time.
    • Wi-Fi access is widely available nowadays. It's easier than ever to avoid the Internet at your own house. Pop out for a quick cup of coffee if you want to check your e-mail and mess around online.
    • Instead of streaming video, get DVDs and other media at the library. It's free and widely available. Take advantage of it.
  5. Cancel your social networking. Another big step that won't be appropriate for everyone is canceling Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts that prove too time-consuming and all-encompassing. If you think social media is keeping you from doing your work, give yourself a break. See if you can do without it.
    • By design, most social media is pretty easy to re-start. Give it a week and see how you like it, and whether or not staying off Facebook makes you more productive. You can always go back if need be.

Staying Focused

  1. Write up a to-do list. If "Writing a term paper" sounds like it's going to take forever, that's because it will. But coming up with five possible topics? Writing out a single thesis statement? Coming up with some possible main ideas? That sounds a lot more doable. If you tend to procrastinate, try making shorter to-do lists that will make your job easier.
    • Break up larger tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks to make your work sound a lot easier, even though you're doing the same thing. Break it up by how difficult the tasks are, or how much time you think you'll need to spend on each.
    • Prioritize the most important things first, or the most timely tasks. You've got to come up with a topic before you start doing research. So come up with your topics and try for a thesis statement before you start poking around online doing research.
  2. Set hard deadlines for yourself. Some recent studies show that we often procrastinate because we use up all the time we have allotted to complete something.[5] In other words, if you've got three months to write a paper, most people will take three months to write that paper, even if that means writing it all in the last five hours before it is due.
    • Give yourself a specific page count, word count, or other deadline for the next hour or two. If you're working on the Internet, make yourself finish before your app kicks it and turns it off for an hour.
    • You can use Freedom or Stop Procrastinating to set productivity goals for yourself, as well as managing your deadlines on your own.
  3. Allow yourself short breaks more regularly. Productivity studies regularly reveal that taking short breaks every hour or so helps long-term productivity more than taking a single long break. Don't work for longer than an hour at a time. If you want, take five minutes to cue up a short YouTube video or mess around on Facebook. Take a break no longer than 5-7 minutes, each hour.
    • Supposedly, working 52 minutes is the ideal amount of time for you to work before taking a break.[6] Give yourself a break to rest your mind and be at your best.
    • Schedule breaks to help remind yourself. Set a phone alarm, or use your web blocker setting to go off every 52 minutes to give yourself some time. When the net cuts back out, get back to work.[7]
  4. Only open one window at a time. Tab browsing and high speed Internet can quickly become overwhelming. If your browser window involves shopping, researching, writing, chatting, and designing a .gif at the same time, then narrow your focus. Make it your goal to only have one window and one tab open at a time. Finish what you're doing before you open something else.
    • Tab browsing can cut into your attention span and the length of time you stay on an individual page.[8] If you need to be researching on the Internet, slow down and look through your resources more thoroughly instead of tabbing out.
  5. Do one thing at a time. Don't try to carry on a conversation with your friend in a G-Chat while you're also trying to write an e-mail. Don't try to read up on the topic for your history paper while you're live-tweeting the Academy Awards. Do one thing at a time when you're on the Internet, and the quality of what you're doing will be higher.[9]
  6. Try study music. Some studies show that instrumental music can improve productivity, specifically on repetitive tasks.[10] That means that it might not be great for writing, or doing other Internet-related activities, but if you're doing something repetitive online, it can be a great booster to your attention span and ability to work.
    • Keep the volume low and the mood relatively subdued. Listening to really fast-paced math rock probably isn't the best way to work.
  7. Reward yourself. Support yourself as you work. Give yourself little rewards for periods of productivity. Use rewards that will keep you productive, instead of making you procrastinate. For example, instead of pulling up a YouTube video, get outside and go for a quick walk. Instead of goofing on Facebook, make a cup of green tea, which has brain-boosting properties that will help you stay focused.[11]
  8. Try the WOOP method of focusing. WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. Set a goal, visualising the obstacles, then chart the way ahead. Research suggests that this method is very effective in working past potential obstacles. Help yourself deal with procrastination. [12]
    • Plan some time before you start a task that'll be online. Plot out the potential for you to procrastinate and make mistakes. Visualize doing the task properly and correctly. See yourself not pulling up that Podcast and wasting time. Do it the right way.
    • There's also a customizable WOOP app that can be downloaded onto your smartphone to help you make the anti-procrastination plans.[13]

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