As you probably know, it's easy to waste hours a day surfing the web, checking up on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites instead of doing what you're supposed to do. Most people have an intrinsic drive to procrastinate until they have to absolutely start working. There are easy ways of helping you stay productive and on target.
Jonathan Franzen, as well as other famous authors, point out that writing while having access to the Internet can get so distracting that they'd rather simply unplug their Internet connection in order to get things done. In our modern connected world, switching off the Internet is akin to switching off your cell phone. You can do it, it's only a matter of willpower. Switching off your cell phone is the first step of not being distracted while you're hard at work at home, whether it's on term papers that are due in two weeks or whether it's that report that you have to file before the end o the year.
The next step is simply to unplug the Internet. You can either disconnect the Internet connection or unplug the Ethernet cable to your computer. This is definitely a drastic but effective method of staying on top of things. This is even easier if you've decided to opt for a laptop as your main computer. Going offline will reduce your access to any number of online distractions, from Facebook status updates to pesky emails. You simply disconnect from your WiFi home network and you're done. While we think that this will work extremely well for some people, it might not work for everyone, as many students and workers have to do research online for their assignments.
Another simple strategy involves switching browsers when you want to get work done. For example, I use Firefox as my main browser. This is the browser with which I access my email and all of my RSS feeds. There are usually 5 to 10 tabs open at any time. When I get ready to do some real work, I close Firefox and open Chrome. There are no saved tabs on this browser, and once I check up on a fact or detail, I immediately close the tab and/or the browser. There is no Facebook tab or Twitter tab open, and I never check my email with Chrome.
While this won't work for everyone, it will work for people who absolutely need the Internet to stay productive and have the willpower not to log onto Facebook every few minutes to see what's up with their friends. If you are in the latter category of people, just switch off the Internet to get things done. Another tip would include on scheduling these offline periods (1 or 2 hours when you need them) to make them even more productive. You can get very productive when you are no longer distracted.
(Images: Flickr member Copydogblog licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Mister Bisson licensed for use under Creative Commons)