Countless opportunities to waste time online have driven essayist and techie Paul Graham to an extreme solution: to disconnect completely. After trying various methods to reduce procrastination with online distractions, Graham writes:
I now leave Wi-Fi turned off on my main computer except when I need to transfer a file or edit a web page, and I have a separate laptop on the other side of the room that I use to check mail or browse the web. […] My rule is that I can spend as much time online as I want, as long as I do it on that computer. And this turns out to be enough.
When I have to sit on the other side of the room to check email or browse the web, I become much more aware of it. Sufficiently aware, in my case at least, that it’s hard to spend more than about an hour a day online.
Graham says that watching TV is also a distraction, so he just quit that entirely—but that wasn’t possible with the internet, since he has to be on a computer to get work done. Seems like Graham’s solution is extreme, and wouldn’t work for folks who need an internet connection as they work (like myself.) How do you avoid online sinkholes when you’re trying to get things done? Let us know in the comments.
I don’t go as far as to disconnect, but I generally quit all apps that tend to distract me, like email and web browser. I think mark myself away/do not disturb in all of my communications clients and then use OS X’s “Hide” functionality to further the out-of-sight, out-of-mind illusion. That works well enough for me, and since I usually need my network connection to do work, going further would be impractical.