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A handful of tips for staying focused

I’ve always had trouble staying focused when I’m working on a computer. It’s just too easy to go off task. Used to be games, but recently it’s been email, Twitter, and all of that mess. Below are a few tips that I’ve been trying to force myself to follow. Maybe you’ll find something helpful in there too.

Turn off your email

Email is not an instant mode of communication. Most people expect there to be a bit of a turn around, so an hour or two between receiving and email and sending your reply is not a big deal. But having Outlook constantly dinging as new mails come in is certainly distracting.

I used to leave Outlook minimized, but find that’s not always enough. So now when I’m really having trouble focusing I close it entirely.

Turn off Twitter (or Facebook, or …)

Social networking is a giant time suck. Just reading the 140 character messages isn’t all that bad. But then you just have to check out that one link and it’s over. I’ve wasted half an hour following links.

Close everything you’re not using

I guess this would include email and Twitter, but there’s no reason to have applications open that you’re not actively using.

… except …

Evernote is always open on my computer. That way if I have a thought while working I can jot down a quick note and come back to it later without it interfering with what I’m working on. This post started life as a note like that.

Doesn’t necessarily have to be Evernote, but having a way to keep from losing fleeting thoughts is important. Maybe a paper notebook would work better for you.

Turn off the cell phone

Again, not always practical. But if you’ve got friends that are always calling or texting you might want to turn off or mute your cell phone so they don’t get between you and the work you’re trying to finish.

Sure, not an all inclusive list. And not something you probably haven’t seen on a dozen other websites. But this is what I’ve found to work well for me.

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