Josh DiCristo, Front Rush
I was supposed to have this post finished, yesterday. Then I got busy and this happened and then that happened and then I had free time but then YouTube happened. Then I thought that it would be done this morning. Now, as I write this, it’s about 2 in the afternoon. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and Oscar Wilde once wrote, “I never put off ‘til tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after”. Both John Lennon and Oscar Wilde dealt with setbacks and both dealt with a common weakness that affects all of us at one point or another – procrastination. But Lennon and Wilde had one more thing in common – their birthday. No, I’m just kidding, but how crazy would that be? Neither of them existed in the age of the internet.
The internet is undeniably an incredible tool that has reshaped the world and provided us access to information and connectivity that previous generations could only dream of. It’s streamlined the entire recruitment process, reduced all of the various papers and schedules coaches would normally have to manage, and with the utilization of algorithms, recruits can find you and vice versa at near-ridiculous speeds.
So with YouTube and BuzzFeed and Netflix and email, how do you stay focused? An easy answer is to stay off the internet but let’s say, for sake of argument, that your job requires you to be online for the purposes of college recruiting. As we pointed out earlier – the internet sure has it’s upsides in that realm. So how do you stay focused in your day-to-day?
First and foremost, the easiest thing to do is to remove notifications from sites like Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. Though it might be important to check those sites throughout the day for your work, do you get a notification every time something new pops up at your job? Maybe sometimes, but odds are not all the time. So why should you be notified anytime someone follows you or tags you in a new post? If those websites go on the rotation of every other work-related website that you check, you’ll find yourself going back to it less and less throughout the day.
Certain browsers also have free apps that can help you manage your time better online. One such app (or “extension” as apps are known in Google Chrome), is StayFocusd. StayFocusd is available on multiple browsers and allows you to block certain time-draining websites on your computer for certain periods of time throughout the day. There are tons of apps out there that do this – a quick google search and you can find the right one that fits you!
However, the main problem with these apps is that they work great for the first few days but after a week or so you might find yourself logging into the settings to remove websites you had previously blocked. Most of these apps don’t allow you to remove websites off your blocked list for a few hours (for obvious reasons) but where there’s a will there’s a way and people will always find ways around it. If you want to take the “nuclear” option you can remove the website from any browser on your computer entirely. Have someone add the website to your host file in a specific way and it’ll be gone until they remove it from the list themselves.
If blocking websites isn’t your thing, you can set frequent Google Calendar reminders or iCal reminders on days that you know you’ll be spending a lot of time in front of a computer. At the very least, even if you ignore them, you have to close out of each notification that appears on your desktop. In your brain, it causes you to take a neurological break from whatever you’re doing (gotta love those cat videos) which might just be enough to snap you back into productivity.
Another option is to turn on airplane mode when you’re working. This won’t work in all cases because sometimes you absolutely need the internet. But in some cases, the app you’re working with might just have the ability to sync data “when connected”. So stay on your desktop or device as long as you need, without an internet connection. The internet is only two clicks away and if you’re only connecting to save your data, you’re getting all of the benefits of working online without the distractions.
So there are lots of ways to stay focused, even when your job requires you to be on your computer or on the internet. The paradox is to learn about them, you have to take a trip to Google which will frequently leave you with the answer, but not before giving you a parting gift of more distraction. So here’s a few tips courtesy of us, and with minimal cat video interruption.
P.S. It turns out that John Lennon and Oscar Wilde’s birthdays and date of death were both within eight days of each other. Who knew? You can thank the internet for that one, too.