Pretty powerful title, eh?
The truth is that we are entering an era where if you are not careful, the use of the internet will detract you from your work, and if you are a boss, you will be losing massive hours from your office staff or anyone who has access to an online computer. There is no way you will be able to stop this completely, so perhaps it may be better to control it.
Let’s go back to the beginning: There is a huge shift taking place in our society, and most people have not even noticed; they are acting just like the boiling frog. For those of you who don’t know, that is the phenomenon of putting a frog in cold water and then bringing it to a boil. Because the temperature rises slowly, the frog adapts and stays in the water until it boils and then obviously dies.
This is exactly what is happening with time spent on the computer; we all convince ourselves that we are working. Still, in reality, we are continually distracted and, more often than not, do not even complete the original task, and worse still, we are not noticing what is going on around us. We now think that we have less time, but we are squandering time by literally pretending to be busy. While people are being distracted, they are not noticing the changing things, and they carry on doing the same things that they have always done.
Most of you are still playing by the old rules, and because you have been just going with the flow, a whole new world has entered the equation, and you have not noticed. Everything is changing so quickly that if you blink, you miss that part of the development. To utilize all the new internet changes, you must learn the rules and accept that things are different. Depending on your age, the changes you have experienced will be different; the younger you are, the easier you will adopt the changes.
Over the last few decades, communication has been totally transformed, from the humble landline being the only real telecommunication, through pagers, faxes, mobile phones, text messages, email, webinars, Skype, etc… Our time and privacy have been invaded, and we all seem to accept being available at a moment’s notice at any time.
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What happened then was that we could not really plan anything because we were allowing interruptions, and that has now got to the point where we actually are accepting it as normal. This is the hurdle that you have to overcome if you survive what is happening now. With every man and his dog are bombarding us with information, special offers, get-rich-quick schemes, internet businesses, and a myriad of other stuff, we are actually now sorting through our emails and making judgments on the contents, based entirely on the subject line of the email.
How many times have we lost or not opened an important email? What happens now is that we are so protective of our time and our attention that the whole thing becomes totally confusing. It will be the companies and individuals who apply their attention correctly to have an advantage over everyone else. Imagine telling your staff that they can use Facebook at work. “What” I hear you say; well, if you structure the use of Facebook and have a trade-off with your staff to be creative and during their time on Facebook enhance your companies branding, that is a classic win-win situation.
As we discussed earlier, you will not stop people from surfing the net and going on social media sites, but if you have set rules and get a branding boost out of them doing it, that is much more preferable than them doing it behind your back. By structuring a person’s use of the internet and not allowing haphazard access and intermittent secretive use, you can actually harness the power of the new social media marketing.
One other problem that we have is we all tend to get information about things that before we had no interest in or would not have even heard about. Suddenly, because of the amazing reach and speed of the internet, we are trying to keep pace in real-time with events from every corner of the earth. What happens then? Are we store anything we cannot get to at the time in our ‘I will get around to that later file’ in our million-gigabyte remote hard drive. The problem then is that very rarely do you manage to follow anything up because your time is becoming even more precious as you find more irrelevant information that might be important or interesting.
Be honest with yourself and work out what you actually achieve when you go on one of these, this leads onto that, and that leads onto this mission. I must admit they are usually fun, and you can never be bored ‘researching’ Mongolian sheep farming for beginners. But what have you achieved? The bottom line is that you must be strict with when and how you use the internet. This will be even harder because it is now a very mobile thing that it is totally mobile on our phones; not only can someone get you at any time, but you can now be alerted that Britney Spears has gone shopping in LA, in real-time.
This sounds funny, and I suppose it is, but all of a sudden, you are filling your mind with so much more STUFF that before you did not have to decipher and file, and that will eventually put stress on you. Where are the people who told us that computers would free us up and give us more time and let us work less? Did they really imagine what was going to happen? The strangest thing that has evolved now, and that is that we are all desperately trying to produce content and information to promote our business or tell someone about a new product; we are told that we should create a blog to establish a brand, we are told that we need a page on Facebook and loads of other sites, we are told that videos are required to keep us in the race, etc..etc.
In effect, we have all become information and news generators, creating content and information for people who have not even got time to read or digest it because they are feverishly creating their own publications and broadcasts. As the people who are still not aware of the fantastic shift in the use of the internet become aware, where will the audience be to read and notice your message? It is the people who are still gathering and receiving your info because they still have a bit of time, who are your customers.
An interesting fact here is ‘who decides what news’ Reuters, the world news agency is, receives 25.000 bits of news per second from around the globe. News distributors then pick a minuscule selection to create their publication or broadcast. So do you think you are being informed about what is going on? I don’t think so.
It used to be that ‘the news’ was served up to us by someone who had limited access to all that was going on and then presented it in a lovely format such as a newspaper or magazine, and we in a very leisurely way used to read it while we relaxed. Hmm… do you remember those days?
Now by the time a newspaper is printed and circulated, everything in its old news.’ We have access to everything instantly. Considering that Reuters get all that information and someone selects a few bits to create a buzz to sell their publication, do you think that ‘news’ is an essential part of your life, or do you think it just satisfies our curiosity.
This is the first way you can reclaim some time if the news is just the act of selecting gossip. Do you really think you need to search for it or spend any time reading or watching it? If the answer is no, limit your gossip intake and use that time to do other things. The question now is, because we have so much information and knowledge at our fingertips, “What do we do?” We are not fully equipped to know how to use so much. Never in history has man had access to so much information, and we really now need to rethink what we do with it and even consider “Do we really need it?” I think what is happening now is that there is such easy access to information, and we are bombarded daily with more; we seem to have devalued information. We have to really debate whether what we receive is worthwhile or not.
So in conclusion of this first part of coming to terms with the internet; Decide how much news you want and be strict about the time you give to it. Secondly, structure a set time to handle your social media and be very conscious of wandering off searching for the Mongolian sheep farmers. Thirdly make sure that you set a goal or target of what you want to achieve each time you sit at your computer. Fourthly have a separate email that you use to sign up to various sites; that way, your prime email will be easier to control. Deciding which email to open and which ones to ignore is very draining on time.