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Do your Internet habits hold you back, or help you succeed?

In theory, technology should increase both work flexibility and productivity, but it is also responsible for procrastination and a major threat to people’s work-life balance.

In fact, much of the recent debate about work-life imbalance is concerned with our relationship with technology, in particular our inability to disconnect or go offline.

For example, in the U.S. almost 50% of working adults report being “hooked” on email, which is estimated to cost the nation’s economy at least $900 billion a year in productivity loss. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, professionals spend 28% of their work time reading or answering emails. These statistics explain the international success of bestselling books like The Four Hour Work Week.

Furthermore, even people who manage to keep their email addiction in check are prone to getting hooked on other sites or apps, such as Facebook or Twitter, with a growing number of people trying social media sabbatical, where they detox from these sites for a couple of months or so. Needless to say, our digital excesses may harm not just our productivity but also our personal relationships with others, especially if they demand exclusive attention from the physical world.

So how can we better manage our web-life balance? Here are four practical suggestions you may want to consider:

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