Good lord you waste a lot of time. Don’t act like you don’t know it. Statistically speaking, it’s likely that you’re reading this at work. Don’t you have a TPS report to take care of?
Everybody succumbs to time sucks of one variety or another, but it checking your webmail too often, chatting on Facebook, updating your Twitter with the totally awesome grilled sub sandwich you’re about to crush, or lurking 4chan. While we wouldn’t suggest you give up all your leisure time, here’s a few time sucks almost everybody gets pulled into, and a quick tip to get you back out of them.
Email isn’t on this list because Smartphones are. The ability to check and respond to emails anywhere you have cell phone coverage is a blessing and a curse. It makes for on-call workers and friends at all times. But, it also makes for horribly awkward dinners with everybody’s gaze cast into their own, glowing-blue laps. When work is over, don’t check your work email. Or, if you do, don’t respond to anything until the next morning. Demarking your personal life from your professional life has been proven to reduce stress and increase overall work productivity. Send your boss this link.
tl;dr – Don’t check work emails when you’re not at work.
“Wait just a gosh darn minute,” you must be saying. We will not! Before DVR, you had to watch your show at the time it was on, or you had to miss your show. If you missed your show, you just kept right on living life. Now, you can buy a DVR that can record up to three channels simultaneously (and they even have one with a QWERTY keyboard now!), and then watch your favorite programs at leisure (to the detriment of your leisure time). The fact that “catching up on your TiVo” is an accepted part of our lexicon combined with popular cable on-demand and many networks offering their full-length programs online is a recipe for disaster. Be discerning. There’s a lot of mediocre TV out there you just don’t need to watch.
tl:dr – Pick and choose a varsity squad of programs. Just watch those.
This one is a bit tricky. Listening to music can effect some workers in the same vein as the (much overblown) Mozart Effect. Famously, listening to Mozart improves peoples’ ability to problem solve over the long-term by thinking critically. However, there are conflicting studies. Workplace Doctor cites a Univ. of Illinois study that suggests listening to music improves “all types of workers” output by 6.3%. However, another study found through monitoring 56 employees that they were more productive when no music was playing at all. Likely, it boils down to a combination of personal preference for the type of music, and whether it is regarded by the worker (you) as white noise that can be easily ignored or an engaging anthem that must be listened to critically.
tl;dr – If you listen to music, make it music you can ignore.
Now, the Wii, the PS3, and the Xbox 360 can all stream Netflix. They all have proprietary downloadable content – mini games that are as or more addictive than the full, disc-based games that ruin our professional and romantic lives to begin with. Hell, the PS3 is one of the most capable media hubs on the market if you know how to synch up your content on it correctly (right here). But, don’t click on that link! You’re traveling down a slippery slope, friend. Better to schedule time to read an actual, physical book or newspaper to curtail your gaming.
tl;dr: Set a time each night to read a book or newspaper forcing and end to your gameplay.
According to Nielsen ratings, last June, the average Facebook user spent over four hours a day on the site. Four hours. On Facebook. Just Facebook. That’s not even counting retweeting aplusk’s latest drivel or updating your music blog about the band nobody cares about. The best way to avoid this, if you’re an administrator, is to block the living hell out of all of those sites. If you’re not, and you have a job you actually need to get work done doing, choose not to get update emails pushed to you so that you won’t be constantly reeled into the social network. At the end of the day, when you’re done with your work, just check your accounts once.
tl;dr – Disable email notifications and check all your accounts once, at the end of the day.