Quality research or quality procrastination
You can only have one (and likely, none)


Weíve all been there.

We hop on the internet with good intentions. And then, without warning, the temptations of roughly a trillion pages of stuff takes hold.

A trillion web pages. Thatís a rough estimate. How rough? WellÖ

In 2014 it was announced that the one billion web sites mark had been passed. Flickered above and below for a bit, then stayed put. Most places I checked seemed to put the figure of active web sites at around one out of sixÖ so just shy of two hundred million.

By the way, these numbers are awful. What determines an active web site as opposed to an inactive site? How are we defining indexed pages, since indexed seems to carry some type of weight when a report claims that there are so many indexed pages on the internet?

We could go on, but itís one thing for me to be vague with subtle and occasional attempts at humor, completely another thing to reach into snarky and unapologetic sarcasm. All we need to agree on is that the internet is big. Important to consider that if youíre looking for sports, porn, travel recommendations, monkey videos, books to purchase, social media, porn, your cityís calendar of events, this weekís sale at the grocery store, or porn, there are a lot of options out there.

Good intentions can disappear quickly.

All you wanted to do was check your e-mail. That was it. But a friend sends one, mentions the kids and something they saw on Facebook, and your move toward social media has begun. (Uh oh.) Before you know it, you find yourself comparing costs and shipping options on flower boxes from three different home improvement sites.

Often, I find myself doing research.

(Shut up! I do look for information and check reliable sources. I do. (Ahem. Sorry. Back to it.))

Letís say I want to check out something about a castle built in Ireland. After reading a bit, I start to notice instances of castles being built on water and castles that have been transformed so that you can stay there on a trip. Suddenly, the idea of surprising my lovely wife with a hotel stay in a castle located on the water begins to take shape. Barely a few minutes later, tabs still open featuring castles in Ireland, Iím five other web sites deep looking at castles in Maine and wondering if there is anyone I could contact to actually stay in the suite at Cinderellaís Castle in the Magic Kingdom.

And thatís just a simple distraction. You already know that the internet is a vacuum, prepared to suck us in and never spit us out.

(At least not until your wife calls from the other side of the house, bringing you back to reality by wondering if you brought butter and rolls home since you were supposedly leaving for the store three hours ago. Or something like that. Thatís hypothetical. Hasnít happened to me at all. Although, completely random and unrelated, recently I have found several great places to stay in Maine.)

Where it gets tricky is that I wonder if the distractions take away from quality research.

Itís one thing for me to say consider the source. The internet is filled with unsupported claims and incorrect details. Quite another when itís so simple to be reading about one thing and suddenly want some details about another that has absolutely no pressing need.

The result is Iíve often found that when doing internet research, Iím spending twice as much time (if not more) doing things that have nothing to do with my research. Iím not getting things done. Iím procrastinating. And not that well.

Ever talk to a professional procrastinator? These peopleÖ my peopleÖ operate on a different level.

Iíd like to think all of us can agree on the basic idea of procrastination. Itís where you basically do one thing to avoid doing another. Well, at the professional level, the procrastinator actually can make the avoidance task look like a necessity.

If you head to the internet to research castles, there are very few ways to defend purchasing tickets to the Magic Kingdomís special holiday event as a necessity. Oh, you might be able to identify the fork in the road where you went off course. You might be able to jump into a circular logic about how Disney World and Irish castles connect. But if you werenít planning a vacation and didnít have Disney Halloween party tickets on a to do list, purchasing them is not quality procrastination.

More often than not, you might get what you need and finish the work you planned. But the reality is, you likely wonít give either your full, complete, highest quality attention.

Still, videos of orangutans and dogs becoming unlikely friends, pandas sneezing, and cats pushing glasses off the counter. The internet is a wonderful place regardless of why you went there.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com