Topic of the Week Dealing With Distractions
- Remove distractions.
- Reduce temptation.
- Increase retention.
From shopping to sports, there have always been multiple distractions to getting our work done. But mostly they were things that we had to leave our worksite to do, but now they're often sitting right on our desktop enticing us to play hooky every minute we're supposed to be working. And aps, games and distractions are everywhere, on our laptop, tablet and phone. When I found an article in PC World that offered specific tools for staying focused, I had to discuss this "zenware" with you. Which reminds me of a 27-year old woman from League City, TX who dropped off her daughter at school and then went about her business. The only problem was that it was Saturday. Police discovered the 6-year old wandering around the empty school yard.
Mom said she was distracted and didn't realize it was the weekend, but police still arrested her. The sad part of that story is that most of us can probably relate to it. We're hit by so much information from so many directions each day that it can be difficult to maintain your bearings. Or get any work done. Here are four tips to help you remain focused on what you need to do at work so you can overcome your distractions.
Remove distractions. Dark Room, CreaWriter, Q10 are programs that remove distractions from your computer screen. Each program offers a minimalistic interface so that you can focus on the project at hand. Some programs even offer soothing music, the ability to control the colors on the screen, etc. Zen indeed.
Focus. I had never heard of the Pomodoro technique for improving productivity. It was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980's. The approach is simple, instead of keeping your nose to the grindstone, Cirillo found that a simple regiment of 25 minutes on task with a five minute break offered the highest level of productivity. Focus Booster has a clock and alarm system that notifies you when it's time to work and when you've earned a break. Pavlov's dogs move over, here I come.
Reduce temptation. I must admit, I love the name of a program to reduce temptation, Leech Block. It's from Firefox and it blocks websites that interfere with you getting your work done. I can hear what you're thinking, do people really need this sort of thing? Well as I was just writing this paragraph I got a text message and it took me fifteen minutes to get back in the flow of my writing. Leech Block, where have you been my entire writing career?
Increase retention. Most of us have a lot of reading to do as part of our jobs. We have to sort through ads, page breaks and fonts and colors that can strain our eyes. Readability simplifies content on websites to an easy-to-read format that we can adapt to our preferences.
Go to school with these zenware programs and you'll control the distractions as opposed to them controlling you. Just skip this school on Saturday.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.