If you can, turn it off, in more or less drastic ways. Restrict sites like this one with LeechBlock. Try recording yourself, then watch and experience the pain... Never(tm) sit down in front of a computer without a hand-written plan of things to do. Once the task is done, consciously plan the next one, write it down, and repeat. GTD, Pomodoro all can help.
What works for you depends on many factors. Usually one or two of the available techniques are enough to stop oneself from drifting around aimlessly on the web.
We have created this giant information-distraction machine. We should therefore also be able to control it...
If factors like "health", "happiness", or "family" rank below professional goals, your long-term priorities are not stable.
The second factor, happiness, is probably the most difficult of the three to qualify. Professional goals and happiness may be intimately related for many people, and activities that bring more immediate happiness may be ones that detract from long-term satisfaction. Maybe a more accurate way to put this would be to avoid pursuing professional goals if it involves sacrificing life goals.
Monitoring "happiness" means keeping a long term barometer on your mood, looking for trends. It's the first sign of unaligned goals and actions, before you can be aware of which particular one is not to your liking.
That's my own take that I've adapted from something Steve Jobs described in a Stanford commencement speech:
"I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
Specifically: I think it completely reasonable (possibly, recommended) to decide "I'm going to prioritize work over having a family until age (30, 35, 40)".
The article completely misses the dimension of calendar time.
As an example: no work in the bedroom, ever. This includes reading work email, doing web research, taking work calls, logging into a server, etc. If you have to do something work-related, take it outside. This helps you (and your partner, if you have one) keep good sleep hygiene, and also provides a good barrier to obsessing with work. ("I could check my email, but do I really want to get out of bed?")
This also applies to side-projects. Take it outside.
My wife and I have periodically enforced a "no screens in the bedroom" rule (with exceptions for e-Ink), but this breaks down sometimes when we need to have a phone in the room for emergencies, and when one or the other of us gets obsessed with a new tablet game. ;-) But it's usually possible to at least keep objects with physical keyboards out, which provides an additional protection for me against cheating on the "no work" rule.
To correct that I set specific work hours and chose not to work weekends. Obviously there are exceptions to this. Sometimes work demands working a little longer. Sometimes the world ends on a weekend. This is fine. However these events should be few and far between.
I found though that I still wasn't too happy. I would get anxious and stressed at the weekends. I discovered the reason for this was because I was still checking my email. I would see bug reports or requests and I would anxiously look at the time and realize it was still 32 hours till I started work on Monday.
To fix that I stopped checking emails. If it is truly urgent I will get a phone call. If it is "email urgent" it can almost always wait till Monday.
The result has been a much better work/life balance and I have been happier in general.
I highly recommend Pomodoro technique (http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/) for greater productivity with less stress.
I highly recommend this Pomodoro extension:
You set the minutes per cycle and what sites to block. Once a cycle is started it blocks those sites until the timer is up.
I can't "cache in" what I need to to make progress in 25 minutes, so it just meant that I never made progress.
Here is a TL;DR version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique
Don't use it for writing and similar things though, the breaks will be noticeable in your output.
It would be nice if you could automate it, but removing the inbox on Friday night and reinstating it on Monday morning works like a charm.
Can be done with the flick of a switch in your mail settings in iOS. I am sure there is something similar on android.
Want to balance work/life? Here's the secret formula which I'm giving away for free today only:
Work 40 hours / week
Sleep 56 hours / week
Play 72 hours / week
This formula covers everything discussed in the blog post. What's surprising about it is that it is nothing new!
We're way overthinking this. The American workforce has been getting up, going to work, coming home and enjoying time with friends and family and hobbies for decades without having an industry of workflow systems and work-life balance editorials. But to make it this simple sells no books, attracts no seminar attendees, and brings in no blog readers.
Similar to the tactics of disabling internet access at certain intervals, there's a good way to cut you off from compulsively checking Facebook, LinkedIn etc. at work.
Create a very long, random password and store it in your computer (e.g. KeePass Portable) but do not memorize it. That way you'll be unable to log in at work unless you ask for password reset. If that's not enough, create a special email account for time-suckers and do the same. Works like a charm.
It's a pity HN works for guest users ;)
my wife is sometimes confused as to why i haven't taken certain jobs or career paths but when i explain to her the impact it would have on things that are more important to me, she seems to understand. about a year ago, i was reminded of this in reading william whyte's "the organization man", in particular the chapters about family. right then and there i made a decision, i backed out of some job offers and have been pleased.
take care of yourself, that's the most basic lesson of all, and that doesn't mean focusing strictly on finances (real or anticipated) or your career.
right now i have the same problems...still studing, more then one job, setting up/finishing my new apartment.
Respect to you, that u shotdown ur internet on ur laptop at 8.30pm - you never enter ur router and deactivate this feature?
i will try to adopt some of your points to get rid of some stress in my life.