How to Be Productive Working on the Internet

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Everyone has struggled with procrastination and distraction, and working on the internet doesn't make it any easier to focus. Boost your productivity levels by checking out this list of recommendations: ways to get more done, in less time, with less stress. Getting things done is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Clear out the clutter. Delete icons off your desktop. Archive your email. Clean off your desk. Put on headphones and listen to white noise or simple instrumental music.

Don't get disturbed by others. Get out of your cubicle or office, wake up early, or put up a sign or signal to let others know that you are busy. Recognize when others' needs are a priority, but it's less often than you might think.

Set aside specific amounts of time for specific tasks. Though you might not want a schedule, know what tasks can be accomplished in 20, 30, or 60 minutes – and then set a time limit for yourself to keep yourself working. Sometimes the half hour before lunch becomes the most productive time of the day!

Give tasks purpose. For one person, engaging people on Facebook, Twitter, or in blog comments is a meaningful part of their outreach strategy. For another, it's just wasted time. If that's your favorite procrastination method, find ways to make it profitable for your business, too.

Prioritize important tasks. Keep yourself from responding to urgent things. Instead, let things that really are important rise to the top.

Plan before you go into action. Sketch out a design, outline a blog post, or read the ideas of others on similar topics for inspiration. The more prepared you are, the better.

Do things well the first time. After you have prepared, go ahead and start working on the final copy. This will save you time in editing or rewriting at the end.

Let yourself take a break. We can get so worried about productivity that we forget about stretching, eating, or relaxing. Getting yourself stressed might make you work faster in the short-term, but will only hurt you in the long-term.

Use a routine to start your work time. Psychologically, a routine can help you realize that it's time to go to work. My passwords for work-related websites or accounts is a (coded) phrase that helps me remember that it's time to get down to business. Others always listen to the same music at the beginning of the day, or check news on the same site first.

Write down future to-dos instead of interrupting yourself. It can be tempting to pause whatever you're doing to take care of that thing you forgot – but you might discover that one thing leads to another and it keeps you away longer than you planned. Instead, write down a list of non-urgent things and then go right back to the task at hand. Then, when you're done you can just check your list and start working again, instead of wracking your brain for all the tasks you forgot about.

Create a checklist for every event. In hospitals, infection rates drop dramatically when doctors and nurses use a checklist, even for procedures they have done hundreds of times before. We all assume that repetition will ensure we do things right every time – but a checklist prevents us from dangerous assumptions.

Create a template for regular projects. If you are often doing the same type of work, help keep the formatting consistent and give yourself a quick start by making a template. You'll save more time each time you use it.

Just work for 5 minutes. When procrastination really slows you down, everything is tempting. Give yourself a quick win and a boost of energy by deciding to just work for 5 minutes. Better yet, just open the document.

Do the minimum. Don't answer with a 10-sentence email when a 5-sentence one will suffice. Simplify your expectations and get things done instead of being stuck in perfecting things.

Notice your productivity. If you end the day (or the hour) satisfied with how much you have accomplished, take a minute to reflect on what made the time successful. Do you work better at a certain time of day, in specific surroundings, or with fewer tabs open on your browser?

Begin or end the day with easy tasks. This can help you feel like you've really gotten something done – let it kick-start the rest of your day, or make you content to go home and rest.

Do nothing to excess. Checking analytics, reading RSS feeds, even worrying – be able to recognize when you've spent too long on something and move on.

Group similar tasks. Respond to all your email at once, then make all your phone calls, then write all your blog posts for the week. This can keep you from needing to get “into the zone” over and over again.

Show yourself how far you've come. Using a checklist or a calendar, check out how much you have gotten done, overall or on a particular project. Keep yourself motivated by celebrating your small wins.

Save interesting things for later. Use Instapaper, Delicious, or your browser's bookmarks to help yourself remember what to come back to. Tabs work, too, but they can be just as distracting as actually reading the article.

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