Willpower consumes energy. Instead of resisting every single impulse, it could be more beneficial in overall output to give in on the occasion and take an unobtrusive break.

Atlantic contributor Rebecca Greenfield writes:

“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” researcher Dr. Brent Coker told Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng. “Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day’s work, and as a result, increased productivity.” The research found that those who spent less than 20 percent of their time perusing the Internet’s silly offerings were 9 percent more productive than those who resist going online.

Not only does a brain reset help you get through the day, but resisting the urge to go online negatively impacts your work, according a Harvard Business School study. The researchers suggested that energy spent resisting the Internet’s allure takes attention away from other tasks.

That’s not to say you should attempt to multi-task or take frequent breaks. As mentioned earlier, the key is to spend less than 20 percent of your time on the internet browsing “silly things.” As the piece goes on to explain what happens if that balance is not kept:

But for all the studies urging you to click over to Facebook, others have found that your leisure time is costing companies. “Internet misuse in the workplace costs American corporations more than $178 billion annually in lost productivity. This translates into a loss of more than $5,000 per employee per year,” reported Reuters in 2007. A 2002 BBC report found similar numbers. “A company that makes £700,000 profit on a turnover of £10-12m could be losing 15 percent of its profits because of abuse of net and e-mail abuse.”

  • Hatem G. Kotb

    That’s why I keep my browser open😀
    But yeah, Facebook is kind of disastrous!

  • http://contently.net/2014/05/23/the-power-of-slow-how-busy-freelancers-enhance-productivity-by-working-smarter/ The Freelancer, by Contently

    […] Studies show spending time on distracting sites can be beneficial for productivity, because you temporarily loosen your finite amount of willpower. Copywriter Deidre Rienzo regularly takes TV breaks if she’s ahead of schedule and leaves the office to go for quick walks. […]

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    […] The 20% Rule of Internet Browsing […]

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