I recently noted that I have used the internet for the best part of my life. I check in to see what is happening with friends on social media and find out what is happening in the world on blogs and news websites.
It wasn’t always this way, the internet is great for enabling access to helpful tools, services and enabling us to do great work. That said, the internet isn’t so great for keeping us focused, it has also given us plenty to distract ourselves with and unlimited supply of fuel to burn if you have a procrastination habit.
If you’re anything like me, you might feel that sometimes it is really difficult to keep your head focused amongst the myriad of content out there. Having such vast amounts of intriguing content within quick reach can make for great distraction when you’re struggling with a task. Why work when you can read about one weird trick someone in your town used to defy dentists everywhere, or you could watch the funniest 30 animated GIFs from the last series of Game of Thrones?
Here’s one weird trick I have found to read a lot less than I need to. Although it’s typically tempting to try to find ways to fit more into your life, this one technique might save you some time in future. I promise to keep it brief.
Firstly, sign yourself up for a ‘read it later’ service, many exist and most of these services have plugins that you can install on your browser or device. I was quite taken with Pocket because of its multi-platform compatibility and wide-range of third-party support, but you could instead use something like Instapaper, Readability, or just save what you want to read using the Evernote web clipper. Not only do these services allow you to collect what you want to read for later into one accessible hub (many of these allow you to access your saved articles whilst offline as well), but they also can simplify the formatting, putting the content at the centre stage, so you’re not distracted by flashy adverts or sidebars of shame.
Once you find the article you would like to read, save it to the service of your choice. This is particularly useful when you find yourself procrastinating or following links which grab your attention, but you may not have time to read them in that exact moment.
This third part is the most important bit. You will soon forget about what it was you were so distracted by when you were last trying to focus on writing that email. The beauty of this trick is that you don’t feel at the time like you’re making a sacrifice, the part of your mind which wants to read the catchy clickbait headlined article can be placated, safe in the knowledge that the article is still out there, waiting to be read, safely kept in your ‘read it later’ vaults.
You will often find that you forego the panic associating with losing something you wanted to read. Not only that, but when you load up your ‘read later’ service, you will probably find that you only typically read 2, maybe 3 of your saved articles. It’s unlikely that you really wanted to read all of those blogs anyway, but you were just procrastinating.