Sometimes, when I sit down to do work at my computer it takes me a while to actually get started. Before getting to the task at hand I have to check my email. Then Twitter. Maybe Facebook. Next, I’ve got to look at my phone to see if I have any text messages. While I’m on my phone, I may as well take a peek at Instagram. Oh look, just got a new email with an interesting link- better check it out. All of a sudden, I’m on a website with a bunch of interesting articles that I “need” to read right now. If I take a glance at the clock, I notice an hour has gone by and I haven't done any work. on top of that, I’ve now added to my to-do list because I’ve got to read all the articles i just found.
Ever find yourself in a similar situation? It’s so hard to get focused with all the distractions we have at our fingertips these days. Below, I outline a few tactics I use to eliminate my biggest distractions.
The Email/Twitter/Facebook Black Hole This trifecta is without a doubt my biggest time suck. I know I’m not alone on this. Developers have taken note and have created a number of extensions for popular internet browsers to help people be more productive. For an example of what I’m talking about, check out Chrome's web store. I’m a Google girl and use chrome and Gmail. Take a look at the free extensions I use to keep me out of the black hole:
Mail Timer for Gmail Mail Timer lets you choose how much time you want to spend on an open email. when the timeframe is up, you get a pop-up telling you to move on.
Stayfocused Stayfocused is another great Chrome extension that keeps you on task by limiting the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites. You decide which sites are time-wasters for you and you determine how much time a day you are allowed to spend on these sites. Once the allotted time is up for the day, the blacklisted sites are no longer accessible until the next day.
The New Human Appendage: The Cell Phone My phone has incredible potential to interrupt myproductivity at any given moment. When I want to sit down and focus, I silence the ringer so the irresistible alert of a text message won't even tempt me. I also put my phone somewhere across the room to create an additional “barrier to distraction.” This way, even if I feel the urge to check for texts or cruise Instagram, the act of having to get up from my computer will make me think twice.
Professional (Internet) Surfer how many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? if you're like me, you have at least 8 open in your current window and probably have another window on your desktop with 15 more tabs. Having this much open stresses me out (it feels like a to-do list) and immobilizes me. To avoid that feeling, I’ve been using pocket. Pocket allows you to bookmark sites/articles/videos to come back to later. Pocket has a great interface, as well as a mobile app and you can tag each entry with notes so everything stays organized. Even better, pocket syncs up with other apps I use to manage my online life, like Buffer or Kippt.
Let me know if any of my solutions work for you! Are there any major distractions I’ve missed (kids, pets, TV)? What are your biggest time sucks and how do you overcome them to create a distraction-free work environment? Comment below and share your tactics!
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