Does a “quick 5 minutes” often turn into 2 hours when you get on Facebook? Join the club. (On Wednesdays, we wear pink.) If you find yourself constantly distracted by shiny objects (a.k.a. mindless statuses, memes or videos) online, know you are not alone. It’s nothing out of the ordinary when so much of our lives are spent online. If the internet and social media are constantly in your face, though, you might as well make the most out of it.

Here are 5 ways to be more productive online:

1. Work, then play.

Ever heard the expression, ‘Work hard, play harder?’ When you get online, do what you sought out to do first, then give yourself a few minutes to do whatever you want. This will help you stay on task, and reward you once you’ve accomplished that item on your checklist. You can feel at ease knowing you conquered what you needed to do before your mind wandered. (Note: It’s totally okay to wander sometimes. We all need a break from reality. This is just another way to stay productive if that’s your goal. If that’s not your goal, then by all means carry on with your Facebooking!)


2. Set a timer.

Planning to check Facebook for a “second?” Do yourself a favor and set a 10-minute timer. When the alarm sounds, log off social media. The more you do this, you may build a habit out of it and find yourself not needing the timer eventually. (If you want to do something really crazy, log out of social media completely so you have to log back in whenever you want to access it. Delete the apps from your phone. See how much extra free time that gives you.)


3. Learn a new skill.

If you can’t identify any hobbies besides watching TV or working, it might be time to challenge yourself a little more. Research a new skill, watch useful videos, and put it to practice. If you stop learning, you stop growing. Check out the Coding Academy to learn HTML and CSS, browse free instructional books on Amazon or go to YouTube to learn how to be a better public speaker. Those are just some ideas, but if you’re at a loss of what to learn, those are great–and free–places to start.


4. Build your reputation.

The internet is a great place for networking with like-minded people. Join social media groups to talk to people with like-minded interests. From my experience, it’s a great way to get a fresh new perspective. You can also set up your sites to be more professional and reflect the image you’d like to be presented as. For instance, if you want to be a teacher, you can choose a warm image for your profile picture, and share content that other prospective teachers would find interesting.


5. Start a blog.

If you’re “that guy” who has a lot on your mind and tons to share on sensitive topics, consider starting a blog. Not only will that be a great addition to your resume, it will give you a voice with a wider audience than social media alone. Who knows? Maybe you can get some residual income out of it eventually.


So, you’ve heard our tips. Now we’re curious! How do you stay productive online?

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