It’s tough to be productive these days. Focus is hard. As if the Internet wasn’t distracting enough, along comes one of the most insidious wastes of personal attention since the invention of the chat room. We’ve all clicked on them — the alluring list post, or ‘listicles’ as professional bloggers and content marketers like to call them.
Instant productivity tip: STOP CLICKING ON LISTICLES. Just stop. If you want to feel more focus and be more productive stop clicking on any article that has a number in the title.
You know the articles I am talking about. Listicles are those articles written with seductive headlines like:
- 5 Things Super Lucky People Do — Time
- 10 Innocent Hand Gestures You Should Never Use Abroad — Huffington Post
- 10 Practical Tips To Keep A Conversation Going — LifeHack.org
It’s almost impossible to not click through. I mean, who doesn’t want to know if they share traits with the world’s super lucky people? Bloggers — and people who make money based on how many “page views” they get — know this. They love list posts because they get tons of clicks. (I’m looking at you HuffPo.) Content marketers call this ‘engagement.”
Here’s the thing: everybody clicks on list posts — but does anybody read them? I mean really read them?
Try this: for the next two days, pay careful attention to what is going on inside your head as you click through to a listicle.
Here’s my prediction: your eyes dart over the article looking for the main items in the list (god forbid if the main items aren’t in bold).
Most of the time you are looking to validate some preconceived notion that you already have on the subject. You stop and read a couple of sentences in a few of the sections and then you click away. On average, you spend less than 60 seconds “reading” a list post.
You haven’t really read the article, and you haven’t really learned anything.
The problem with listicles is that they offer the illusion of reading without offering much substance. They’re sugar bombs: you get a mild jolt of satisfaction during the few seconds you are scanning the list but the experience is over as soon as you click away.
So, I offer this as, hopefully, the last listicle you will ever feel compelled to read:
The 5 Reasons You Should Stop Clicking on List Posts
- You’re just scanning — you read little or none of the content in the list.
- You retain almost nothing from the article. After 5 minutes you cannot remember reading the article, let alone the concepts it contained.
- Listicles are little more than a distraction.
- You are giving false hope to bloggers who think that people are actually reading their posts.
- In the grand scheme of things, list posts do not help you be smarter or more productive. Mostly they are a waste of time.
Join me in avoiding lists posts. Your productivity will thank you.
Now go read something of more substance.