A great designer, typographer and writer, Elliot Jay Stocks, has written and excellent argument on why the first hour of each work day should be set aside for catching up on email, RSS feeds, commenting on blog posts we follow, and general work-related internet surfing. Check it out here. And then you can read my response to his post.
While I agree with Elliot I do believe that having the constraint of a time limit, such as an hour or 30 minutes, is very important. It is far too easy for me to let the "design-related" internet research I do (such as following and commenting on fellow designers' blogs, finding design inspiration and checking out other designers' projects and websites) consume far more time than I originally intended and even become an excuse to not work on the project(s) that the original research was intended for. The internet and its vast seas of information can be a great inspirational and educational tool but can easily drown my productivity if I'm not careful. It's all about balance and perspective - the time on the internet in the name of research should help support the time I actually spend in the creative process.
While Elliot's post was specific to designers and creatives at work (and I relate most on this level to his post) I think that much of his argument and my response can be applied to just about any time we spend on the internet whether for professional or personal reasons. If the time spent is not supporting some greater pursuit (maybe things like: building true and deep relationships, creating awareness of a cause I am passionate about or even finding a good deal on that paint the wall behind my desk needs). If its just mindless surfing or knowledge for the sake of knowledge, there is probably a greater use of time elsewhere.
What do you think?