The Internet is a very distracting place. It would appear that sites designed to pull you away from whatever important task you’re working on are around every corner, begging you to spend time on them. YouTube, Netflix, Reddit, and a number of social networks are on my personal avoid list during work (unless what I’m doing directly relates to them).
There’s actually a good reason that IT departments spend time blocking specific sites at the workplace. Sure, it might seem corny to hear the virus excuse being used by the department when confronted about it, but the reality is that productive time is lost while employees are updating their Facebook status. In what appears to be a momentary glance, an hour may go by as you check out cat video after cat video on YouTube.
I work from home, which means every distraction in the universe is simultaneously begging for my attention. I’m convinced that the fridge may even be calling me right now. There might be a pill for that, but let’s move on.
Here are five types of sites you should make an active effort to avoid while working.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are time warps where hours fly by like minutes and, before you know it, an entire day is lost to Big Bird memes and animated GIFs. It happens, and it’s easier to fall into that trap than you might think. Social networking is a lot like a game. You want to be the first person in your group to post that particular cat photo or make a witty comment to the world. It’s easy to get lost in an interesting feed or spend time researching a comeback to a grumpy commenter.
Avoid this at all costs. It’ll kill your productivity. Unless your job is to update Facebook and Twitter (which a lot of people can legitimately claim), then try to avoid it until after your work is done. You might find that the added free time you get from having all your work done more than makes up for the Internet downtime.
Movie and TV Sites
Netflix used to be my background while working. Little did I realize that I found myself taking longer and longer breaks between articles, eventually killing my productivity for the day. I only make money if things get produced, so Netflix is costing me a lot more than its monthly subscription fee.
The same applies to Hulu and Crackle. These sites are intended to make lunch hours fly by and virtually replace your cable connection during the evenings. They’re not exactly the best productivity booster. For that, Pandora has become a far better choice for me.
Video Sharing Sites
YouTube is a huge productivity assassin. If you don’t believe me, just ask any small business owner with employees who have access to the site. As I mentioned before, there’s a reason that IT departments block this, and it has little to do with saving bandwidth (at least some of the time). The fact is that YouTube is distracting. It’s filled with videos that are intended to grab your visual attention, and the best videos do this very well.
Blip.TV, Vimeo, and YouTube are my personal trifecta for unproductiveness. It takes willpower to avoid these sites when you work from home, and nothing will kill a workflow faster than a spouse walking in and telling you that you have to see a baby or dog video she saw on Pinterest.
News sounds totally innocent, but the people behind these sites are becoming very clever in grabbing (and keeping) your attention. Slideshows, celebrity gossip, and suggested articles are productivity nightmares. It’s easy to get lost in a story and lose track of time, especially when the story itself is compelling enough to encourage you to keep searching for more information.
Thankfully for me, compelling stories inspire compelling blog posts. That is, as long as I’m reading them after my primary work is done.
Game Sites and Forums
Gamers will understand and recognize this one in an instant. Browsing your favorite game’s forums for the latest information, tips, and gossip is another one of those Internet time warps. When I was in my late teens and early 20s, a great deal of my time and attention was spent on a game forum maintained by a Neverwinter Nights server. It was crazy interesting, and it distracted me from my work more often than I care to admit.
The same could be said for those Flash game sites that allow you to play Tetris and Angry Birds from a browser. That’ll look really nice when your boss comes around and spots it on your screen.
Trust me: Avoid these sites and don’t develop the habit of checking them during working hours. You won’t be missing out on much, and your career will benefit from it.
What sites do you avoid (or recommend avoiding) during your work day? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Child With Laptop by Alan Toniolo de Carvalho