I was reading a great piece on how to limit your online distractions…while I was supposed to be working on something else, of course. I’m the Alpha Gal of online distractions, flitting from spot to spot faster than the speed of mouse-click, but I have managed to implement a basic structure for myself when I need to realio, trulio, get to work. Because “work” for me involves either web design or writing, some part of my brain is usually on the Internet even when I’m working. Here’s how I keep myself on task.
Stand Up for Myself
I actually have a drafting table that was my dad’s, and I love it, but it’s currently covered with junk and sits in our office, which is a great place to retreat from the world but not a great place to oversee the actions of my fellow asylum dwellers, a.k.a., my children. So I usually do most of my work during the day at a desk in our kitchen. When I really need to focus, I switch to my standing desk, as shown below in Fig. 1:
Now, I thought about putting together a tutorial for how I constructed this, but I feel like even if you don’t have that exact combination of books, you’re probably going to come out okay.
The nuclear option here is to unplug my laptop except when I’m standing, so I can only sit down and surfy-doodle-oo for a limited time, then it’s back to plugged in and standing up.
Beat the Clock
I’ve written about Toggl and how it’s helping me keep track of how long it actually takes me to do various tasks, whether for billing purposes or just to understand wow, it really did take nine hours to clean out the boys’ closet, and I’ll never get those back.
Working in 30-minute bursts is a good goal for me, and with Toggl I can see how close I am to reaching the goal.
Play a Soundtrack
When I began my teaching career, I’d heard that baroque music was especially helpful for helping students concentrate. I don’t have any idea if that’s true or not, but I do know that I couldn’t listen to the Brandenburg Suites for about a decade without flashing back to my year of complete ineptitude as a first-year teacher. (“Maybe if I play the music AGAIN they will remember to bring a pen to class!”)
Still, it’s my go-to genre for needing to concentrate. You’re welcome to check out my Bringin’ Productivity Bach Pandora station – I fire it up only when I’m working, in an attempt to train my brain “baroque = focus.”
No, I mean: StayFocusd. It’s a lovely little extension for the Chrome web browser that I think is absolutely fabulous right up until the “SHOULDN’T YOU BE WORKING?” question pops up on my screen. StayFocusd lets you specify the sites that you want to avoid entirely as well as those you want to visit for only a few minutes a day. It’s especially devious, I mean helpful, in that it will also track time you spend on sites linked to by sites on your “banned” list, so you can’t spend 20 minutes looking at umbrellas after clicking from your banned site Fashion Rainwear Police.
I know there are other great options out there for other browsers; StayFocusd happens to be the one I tried first and I’ve been happy enough to stick with it.
(Uh…but sometimes I just go over to Firefox when I really need to read up on the Suri Cruise custody battle and other important topics.)
So – what about you?
Time to chime in because I really want to sit back down…oof…
Copyright 2012 Dorian Speed