Maximize your distraction... three criteria for wasting time on the web

Forget Perfect

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Lisa Earle McLeod

I’ve issued an edict, for myself: I’m going to stop wasting time on Facebook and start wasting time on Pinterest.

Here’s why: trolling Facebook does nothing for me, but trolling Pinterest ignites my creativity.

I’m not alone in my addiction to my distraction devices. True confession, I’ve been in the presence of my dearly loved and much missed college-age daughter, and found myself clicking through SPAM on my phone.

I only get to see her every month or so, yet my impulse to check and click was so strong that it overrode rational behavior.

My sister, who works in a large office, said, “If I go to the bathroom and forget to bring my phone, I’m annoyed and anxious because now I have nothing to do.”

It would be great to go cold turkey, but the reality is most of us are going to continue grabbing for our devices. But at least we can be somewhat intentional.

Below are the three criteria for wasting time on the web. Think of these like a nicotine patch. You’re not giving up your drug. You’re weaning yourself off it with a different delivery system.

Use these three filters to maximize your distraction time:

1) Choose life-enhancing info

Reading the headlines may make you feel informed, but at a certain point you’re no longer adding to your intellectual acumen, you’re just trolling. Instead, start poking around sites that will jumpstart your brain waves.

One place I love to waste time is on TED.com - “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” The short video talks run the gamut from provocative to informative to funny, often all three within 12 minutes. TED.com is a favorite on my Nav Bar. It’s my favorite go-to procrastination technique. I find myself referencing Ted Talks in my conversations with clients and my kids. Use the web as a shortcut for fun, painless passive ways to make yourself more interesting.

2) Prioritize beauty

For me, beauty is a business value. I don’t expect myself and my colleagues to look like supermodels. But I’ve come to recognize that surrounding myself with aesthetically pleasing objects and being intentional about creating aesthetically pleasing spaces affects the way I think about myself and how I experience life.

One of the reasons I love Pinterest is that I find myself smiling. When I look at all the beautiful homes, flowers and clothes it calms me and energizes me at the same time. If you’re going to surf, choose sites with visual imagery that ignite your frontal lobes.

3) Converse with big thinkers

Have you ever been annoyed or even irate over a stranger’s comments on the web? The Internet is the great equalizer, anyone can comment on anything. The problem is, all people aren’t equal. Some people are smart and thought-provoking, while others are stupid and rash.

A friend of friend of mine says, “Why should I care what the thousand dumbest people with Internet access think?”

Just because 500 people have a strong opinion about something doesn’t mean that they represent a significant portion of public opinion. Reacting to them gives them power they don’t deserve. That doesn’t mean you should insulate yourself. Smart people expose themselves to different thinkers, the operative word being thinkers.

The web gives you the world in your pocket; explore it wisely.

‑ Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant for such companies as Apple, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer (www.LisaEarleMcLeod.com).

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