When you first sit down at your computer and open up your web browser, what do you see? Google? MSN? Facebook?
I used to have my email inbox set as my homepage, but I discovered that caused me to get distracted, get sucked into answering email (or deleting junk newsletters I’d signed up for) followed by any number of minor tasks and activities referred to in those emails. When I came up for air I’d suddenly become aware that hours had passed – and I’d accomplished nothing.
The primary reason for this was a lack of concentration and focus. I’ve since become more directed in the time I spend online, and while I am sure I still waste time from time to time, here are some strategies I use to improve my concentration online.
How To Improve Concentration Online
- Track Your Productivity At Your Computer – I’m a firm believer in “what gets measured gets managed.” Until I started tracking how productive I was at my computer, I had no way of knowing for certain where my time was going. In an 8 hour day, how much time did I spend on email? I use and recommend RescueTime’s free time tracking software. I can then review their reports and see all kinds of interesting things – even what times of day I tend to be less productive. Which leads me into my next point …
- Don’t Browse As Soon As You Get Home – One thing I noticed while tracking my productivity online with RescueTime was that right after I came home from work or from going out with friends tended to be especially unproductive. Why was that? I suspect it’s because I wanted to relax a little, unwind and turn my brain off for a little while to recharge. There are more productive ways to do this though than sitting around idly on my computer. Break the habit – be productive when you walk in the door. Related to that…
- Turn Off Your Computer and/or Monitor When Not In Use – When I”m trying to focus on a task, I turn off my monitor and lock my computer everytime I get up. I stretch out, get a drink of water and come back ready to work. When I sit back down, I don’t turn my monitor back on until I’m mentally refreshed. If you have to turn your computer back on “just” to mindlessly web browse, you’re much less likely to do it.
- Close Your Web Browser When Not In Use – Similar to the previous item, I (try to) make it a point to not leave my web browser open. If I walk by and my web browser is open, it’s easy for me to get distracted, sit down and browse – even if I was in the middle of doing something else. Remove the temptation by closing the web browser, so that if you do want to browse websites, you have to make the conscious decision to open it.
- Don’t Leave Pages And Tabs Open for “Research” – I picked up this bad habit when I started using Firefox years ago, and I still struggle with it. Your tabs are not a to-do list, your tabs should not be items you are going to get to – they are distractions. If there are tasks you need to do at your desk, and you are using the tabs as reminders, write the tasks down, bookmark the page and close it.
- Take A Break Every 30-45 Minutes – I can’t speak for everyone, but I hit my limit after about an hour or so of straight work. My productivity slows, I begin to lose motivation and I’ve got to get up, take a break and do anything else – at least for a few minutes. Just getting up and stretching a couple times an hour can be enough to recenter you and focus.
My Secret Weapon…
So far, I’ve talked about what not to do in order to be productive
Another way of looking at it is, how can we begin effectively when we first sit down to work? For that, I recommend focusing with a start page.
A reader mentioned that she loved my inspirational quotes about life and had set the article as her homepage to give her some perspective every morning. I decided this would be a good opportunity to revamp my personal start pages as well.
Begin With Focus – Start Pages
The purpose of a start page is to provide a point of focus whenever I sit down at my computer. Many of our small activities we work on every day are part of our larger goals and purpose. Without constant reminders though I often get lost in the details and lose sight of what I’m doing – or why I’m doing it. For this reason, I use start pages as daily reminders. In the past, I’ve used physical pieces of paper that I carried in my wallet, used as bookmarks or placed at my desk. Today I’d like to share some of them online.
Here’s the full list of inspirational and motivational start pages. I’m going to continue adding to it. So far the ones I have completed include:
- Value Your Time – A reminder to value every moment.
- Be Grateful – We all have so many gifts and wonderful things in our lives, and some days I need to be reminded to be grateful for all I have. Has a great clip featuring Louis C.K. on Conan discussing how ungrateful so many of us are.
- Beat Procrastination With Action – Act now to accomplish what you want. Also contains a fantastic cartoon I found.
- Motivation And Persistence – Persist. You will succeed.
If you like what you’ve seen so far, and want to make the most out of your life, take a moment to read the details about my course The Action Solution and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. Check it out here: The Action Solution.
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