3 Distracting Internet Habits That Kill Your Productivity

Time management has never been my strong suit. I could have written my college thesis on the art of procrastination, but probably would have just put it off. (Sorry, that was a bad joke – but you know what I mean!) I have no problem making a to-do list of everything I need to get done – it's in the follow-through that I struggle the most.

Even since I sat down to write this post, I couldn't get through the above paragraph without checking my email, refreshing my Hootsuite feed and messaging my roommate about what she wants to make for dinner tonight. That's 3 things in the span of 3 sentences. That's ridiculous, but can you relate?

The Internet is a truly distracting place, and it takes some serious determination to overcome the temptations of all the instant gratification at our fingertips. This goes for day-to-day tasks as well as the overall progress of our blogs. We have access to every, little, tiny detail, but obsessing over them can seriously detract from our accomplishments and successes.

Like weighing yourself too frequently in the midst of a diet or watching a pot and waiting for it to boil, these habits can drastically effect how productive your day is, or hinder you from understanding the bigger picture when it comes to your blog goals.

distracting internet habits

Constantly checking your email.

I am so, so guilty of this. I am meticulous about my unread emails, and can't stand unread emails. As soon as there's a (1) in front of my inbox I have to check it. I have realized this is a huge hindrance to my daily productivity. Of course it's necessary to respond to emails and keep up correspondence during the work day, but stopping my work flow every three minutes to see who has emailed me (and 50 percent of the time it's junk anyway) is unnecessary.

If you have a full-time job that requires you to be unfailingly available via email this might not be an option, but try scheduling time during the day that's specifically for correspondence. Maybe it's your lunch hour, maybe it's 30 minutes in the morning and the afternoon, or maybe force yourself to wait until that notification box is up to 5 or more unread messages.

The reality is that aside from the occasional *urgent* email, most things can wait. Finish your paragraph, finish your post, finish your sentence! Force yourself not to click away from your current task and remember this: other people might want your attention, but you need it. Your priorities and goals come first.

Compulsively refreshing your social media (Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram).

This productivity killer does double duty for providing unending distractions and encouraging a meticulous desire for validation. We want to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings, and now that it's possible to be in the know almost instantaneously, we feel like we have to be. And as soon as we contribute, we want to know if anyone cares, agrees, likes or loves it.

The urge to refresh, refresh, refresh is bad, bad, bad. It's fun to feel like you're in the loop, on the cusp of breaking news and checking to see how many people retweeted or favorited your tweet about Brad Pitt's new Chanel No. 5 commercial. However, when you're working on a deadline or trying to complete a project, you've got to let it go.

One solution? Make a separate browser window for all your “play” site tabs. That old adage about “out of site, out of mind” can really work. (That's what I did, and I only allow myself to check on them after completing a post or big to-do for the day.) Or, let your lunch hour be your time to scroll through your Tumblr dashboard, re-pin some images and catch up on Instagram.

Obsessing over your blog's daily statistics.

Caring about and monitoring your site's statistics is important to any professional or hobby blogger looking for growth and success. However, it's not necessarily healthy to keep tabs on how your post is faring multiple times during the day, or even multiple times per week.

When trying to understand your statistics, you're looking for patterns and trends in your readership and demographics. These clues manifest themselves over weeks and months, not hours. You'll likely drive yourself crazy trying to dissect the minutia of daily activity.


What are your best strategies for having a productive day? How do you beat the distraction and temptations of the Internet?

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33 Responses

  1. cathy lu

    Great post! I definitely obsess over blog stats! Oops. (:

    check out my new post featuring a watercolor cardigan:

    enter my giveaway here!

  2. sascha

    These are definitely my top 3 distractions down to a tea!
    Although ive got to say internet shopping and browsing other peoples blogs has got to be up there. Scrolling through endless amounts of photos of strangers on there blogs can prove to be somewhat addictive too.
    Im also guilty of daydreaming and looking at Google maps for planning my next trip! Haha. Gosh too many distractions out there.

    I suggest alot of willpower to avoid temptations, a quiet room and endless amount of caffeine!


  3. Taylor D

    I am definitely a victim of all three of these. It’s especially bad when this is all I do in school instead of listening to the teacher. I really need to set up a schedule, so I’m not just focusing on my blog and social media all day.


  4. Chelsey

    I am the worst at checking social media. I literally type a sentence and check twitter or tumblr, or even pinterest. The Internet is one giant playground and requires so much self-discipline to live by the “work now, play later” mantra. I want to try the new browser window idea.

  5. Orko R Khan

    This is something always is , i prepared my self and set mind to do work in a organized way on the net.
    But suddenly i find my self browsing , social sits or some other sits that distract me from my work’s.
    In that case what would i do ???
    please suggest me …… thanks.

  6. MissCalli

    This is so true. I think one of my biggest procastination crimes is to contantly refresh facebook and bloglovin just to feel that I am getting the newest infomation possible. As I keep doing this, whatever article, coding, or presentation that I am working on (for my PhD) becomes less and less interesting. Do need to star scheduling things!

  7. Barbara

    I obsess over my blog stats a lot (not compulsively I hope, lol). Especially now that a pattern is evolving and my statistics are improving.
    It does take a lot of self discipline though but I think I do quite well.
    Lagos, Nigeria

  8. Ana

    Lalalalala, I can’t hear you!
    I’m guilty of all three and I’m trying to keep them in check. It’s easiest to do when I find some other project to occupy my thoughts and inspire productivity 😀 .

  9. Alyssa

    This is totally true; I am always refreshing my twitter and pinterest feeds!

    The only thing that works for me are lists and more lists!! I just keep reminding myself about the satisfaction I feel after crossing tasks off!

  10. Kimberly

    Agreed! I should be reading and researching for great content instead of checking my social media every 10 minutes..Ugh! Help! Lol!

  11. Rachelle Porsenna

    My solution to this madness is that I disconnect my wifi then Ta-Da no more notifications. I write my post on word and edit my pics with photoshop, none of these application need the internet to function. When I’m done I reconnect and paste/upload post and pics.

  12. Zamri

    Constantly checking email. Compulsively refreshing the social media (Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram). Obsessing over your blog’s daily statistics.
    OMG. You’re talking about me! I fit all of those….yikes!
    *blame iPhone and iPad. =)

  13. alicejane011

    I am so guilty of all three of these! Thanks for the separate browser tip because it’s so distracting to keep going back and forth to Twitter since it’s a tab.

  14. GlamRosie

    This is so me!!! When I think about how much time I waste doing all of the above, I get so frustrated but it is addictive! I moan to my husband that I have no time to blog and build up my little business as well as school runs/Mum duties etc then I waste the little precious time I have doing exactly what you’ve listed! I think I need to turn my mobile off more often. As everything’s connected to it, it beeps or flashes and I can’t (well choose not to!) ignore it. I need to read your article again to make it hit home….
    Thank you!

  15. michelle @ glisters and blisters

    LOL. I have that bad multi tasking habit as well.. I used to hit refresh a lot but now when I really need to get work done, I turn off the wifi on my laptop. I retrieve emails from my phone, so whenever there’s anything urgent I can still be connected.

    But for all other things related to blogging (ie. Writing post, edit photos,etc.) I can do most things offline.. And just when I need to get the post online or add affliate links, I turn on my wifi at the time 🙂

    I also have a blackberry and iphone.. I usually put away my iphone so I don’t procrastinate on instagram, etc. 🙂

  16. Márcia Eliasson

    I simply loved this post. I do those 3 things and some more to kill my time, like starting writing another post or article before I have finished the one I’ve been working with. It takes a lot of energy and time. But now I felt more motivated to make a try… again… and turn the “to do list” into reality in the planned time.

  17. Tiffini

    Is Taylor lurking around in my house somewhere? She has me dead on for 2 out of 3 distractions and I just realized the reason I check my email so much is that little ding that comes across when a new message drops in my box! I have to delete that sound! I also use hootesuite and I do exactly what she says and I couldn’t help but to laugh! Thanks Taylor for putting things in perspective for me! Now let me go because I’m being distracted right now!

  18. 9to5couture

    Such a timely article! i jut had a conversation with a co-worker on a similar topic.

    i have the e-mail management down! i respond to e-mail after 5:00pm unless the message is marked urgent in some way. i also save all e-mail responses as drafts and send them out in the morning to avoid responses back in the evening. it works really well to provide a feeling of accomplishment each day and to know that my “customers” will always receive a response within 24 hours.

    taylor, you’re point is so valid… other people may want your attention but you need your own attention. more often then not others can wait! 🙂

    for blog stats, my ah ha moment is that you can’t see trends by the hour. spend time once a week to dive deep in stats and focus your days on generating awesome content!!!

    haven’t cracked the code on social media yet… thanks for the tips!

  19. John H

    Very nice article Taylor! Facebook is my worst enemy at work, although I love that site but it kills my productivity that’s why I cancelled my account so I can focus on my work. In our company we use a productivity software to help us monitor our time, fight procrastination and provides us analytics of our work day. We’ve been using it for quite a time already and it’s very useful in an organization or in a company setting.

  20. Daphne

    Gosh, how often I need to do stuff and get distracted. The challenge in doing my things isn’t even in doing them or how hard the task is, it’s in getting rid of all the distractions really. So I close all the internet tabs I had on, I put my phone away and off, make sure I have a snack and tea prepared and only after that I may be ready to do some working for an hour or so.

  21. marina miouprincess

    I’m so guilty of 2 and 3,esp 2 and it really is a productivity killer! such a time consuming addiction!!! I’m constantly and simultaneously checking facebook(alternating btw my personal and my blog’s page),pinterest,tumblr,blogger statistics,and a bit of twitter.I have so many ideas and write them down but never actually get round to making them happen because procrastination is my middle name… I could sooooo relate with this article! :)) I really need to break this habit!

  22. Chaucee from Streets and Stripes

    Thanks for these tips! I’m definitely guilty of constantly checking my email. BUT one of the bad things about doing that is that I go through and read them all on my break at work, but don’t have time to respond to them at that moment so I usually forget about them!

  23. FashionEdible

    Wow. 1 and 3 are totally me 🙁 Guess I’ll have to work on that! Thanks for the advice.

  24. Mariana

    Wow this article is so true to me. Especially the rechecking my email all the time. Some of those strategies in stopping definitely have worked for me such as opening a new window, however I’m pretty sure I still have a long way to go.

    x Mariana | http://www.goingteen.blogspot.com

  25. diksha

    I really liked your article. I agree that these are few of the habits that hit your productivity. In fact, it has become a problem with business organization whereby employee time is being wasted which effects the overall efficiency of the business. Therefore, its important to manage employee as well as project time.

    As such, we use Replicon project time management software which is a great cloud based app, being easily accessed using a web browser.