Freelancers spend a lot of time online. We search, surf, and even add our own marks to the vast World Wide Web by generating content of our own.
I remember in college how the library was the fountainhead of information. I scoured stacks of books to get a snippet or quote to use in a paper. Now I can do the same search in under five minutes online. A few hyperlinks later, I’ve found what I’m looking for.
As a medium for getting information, the Net is mostly a boon to freelancers. We have immediate access to an array of content. Ideas and information that were once scattered broadly in different places are now available through select portals. It’s a godsend, right?
Then, slowly it happens. You start to succumb to digital distraction. Freelancers all know the feeling. We’re reading an article on the Web. Embedded in the text are links to other related and referenced works. We click around, following a trail that loops, wanders, and leads to increasingly wide-reaching and scattered topics. I thought I was reading about freelance editing, and now I’m on a site plastered with goofy-looking cats. How did that happen?
Before we know it, we’ve spent hours staring at the screen and have gleaned nothing.
Famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi pioneered the word “flow” to describe a state in which we are no longer mindful of anything else except the moment and the actions we’re engaged in. When it comes to surfing the web, this idea of flow takes on a disturbing meaning. We get lost in the layers of information, jumping around from page to page. Before we know it, we’ve spent hours staring at the screen and have gleaned nothing.
Hmm. Maybe we should be worried. But becoming a Luddite freelancer and living off the grid isn’t an option. If the Internet is a ubiquitous part of how we live and work, then how do we shore up our defenses and prevent our brains from being overwhelmed by the medium?
Here are several ways to keep internet-induced distraction and digital disturbances at bay, and stay focused and productive as a freelancer. Continue Reading