The Internet Is a Tempting, Tempting Beast: One Online Editor's Tricks for Actually Getting Work Done

Don't let it win.

Woman at Computer Desk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As an editor at, exploring the Internet is part of my job description. I have to keep my finger on the pulse of what's happening not just today, but this second—and as much as I love scrolling through my beloved Twitter feed, it's a real catch-22. My work literally lives in a time-sucking epicenter.

So obviously, many (if not most) of us spend our workdays in front of a computer, on the internet, where at any given moment we can end up smack dab in the middle of a shocking WTF-is-that-headline news story, browsing a J.Crew sale, consoling a friend on gchat after her god awful date, pinning recipes we want to make butcher for dinner, taking a quiz about which Game of Thrones character we are, or falling down the k-hole that is Beyonce's personal life.

Fortunately, I've logged enough time on the web to pick up a few tricks for how to not let it get the best of me. Though, full disclosure, I'm not a master quite yet. Today alone, I couldn't resist a slideshow of dogs swallowing bees (in my defense, my boss sent it to me), or raving track-by-track about how much I love Mark Ronson's new album to my favorite gchat confidante (we all have one).

Here are a couple of ways I tame the beast that is internet:

1. Bookmark. As an editor, this is most crucial for me. Every day, I come across at least five pieces of content that tempt me to stop everything I'm doing and read. It halts my workflow, so I've come up with my own bookmarking system: I have a special tab in Apple's Notes application that I keep open all day and copy and paste links into. At the end of the day, I send myself an e-mail with all the links so that I can read them at my earliest, out-of-office convenience. Typically, that's my commute home. For some, who swear by bookmarking apps like Pinboard or Zootool, it may be old-fashioned, but I prefer fewer bells and whistles.

2. Gchat strategically. Like many, I use gchat all day, every day—most often to communicate with colleagues. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a handful of friends to chat with at my disposal. In truth, as long as it's relatively minimal, I don't think non-work chatter is totally harmful—it's actually kept me grounded on a few days at the office that were especially taxing. 

But the only way I can realistically do this is with one gchatter as opposed to, like, six. We have an understanding: Our conversations are short and to the point. Plus, if one of us is too busy, the conversation stops altogether. It's as simple as that.

3. Customize social. Even though checking sites like Twitter and Facebook is part of my job, I keep my notifications off. It helps me compartmentalize my tasks, which I've found to be the ultimate time saver whenever I can manage it. Additionally, I filter my feeds so that I'm never squandering time—on Twitter you can create a custom list of users that only cater to your work environment.

4. Give it up with the open tabs already. As hard as I try to avoid it, every couple of hours I wind up with, dare I admit it, up to 20 tabs open at once, and it inevitably entices me to re-visit windows that I pulled up eons ago. As if that's not enough of a disruption, it freezes up my web browser, and in worst-case scenarios, has crashed my computer. For serial tab hoarders like myself, Google Chrome has a feature that allows you to set up a custom tab limit. It's a godsend, I'm telling you!

5. Accept that you'll never see it all. As a digital editor, this has always been the hardest pill to swallow. It almost feels like slacking. But believing I could join in on every conversation, open up every viral link that's sent to me, or take every Buzzfeed quiz trending on Facebook, has never done me any favors. Consider it a cleanse—take a look, click what's worth it, then move on.

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Lauren Valenti is Vogue’s former senior beauty editor. Her work has also appeared on,, and in In Style. She graduated with a liberal arts degree from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, with a concentration on Culture and Media Studies and a minor in Journalism.