Ok, I admit it, like Gregory House (character played by Hugh Laurie in House), I get absurdly distracted and remarkably easily.
I am trying to improve on it, but its a slow process. Now I am in my mid 40’s I ought really to have laid distraction to rest and be much more focused on those things I want to get done. Somehow it seems to be getting harder!
I am not sure why that should be… but I guess that at least I am aware of it and am doing something about it means that the battle is hopefully being won!
Below I want to share some of my favourite tools to help keep me focused and on target.
But before I do that I am just going to respond to a couple of tweets, check my facebook and then my email…
Ok… I admit that is what I used to do… and before I knew it I discovered that I had lost several hours of my day and very little on my list would actually get done.
So these are the tools that I use regularly:
1) An app called Cold Turkey. This is found at www.getcoldturkey.com. What it does is “temporarily block you off of social media sites, addicting websites, games and even programs!”
You set it for certain times and days and then you are done… It doesn’t work on my mobile phone so I can always waste a moment or two on Facebook or Twitter whilst making more coffee or similar. I find it hugely effective.
2) I use an app called Pomodairo… This is based on the Pomodoro Technique The idea behind this is that you divide your task list up into 25 minute segments and then set a timer for 25 minutes, and work for that time period and then take a 5 minute break before going back to the next segment. You can find out more about it from the Pomodoro Technique website.
I use the Pomodairo timer, which is an air based program that I run on my computer. It combines a Pomodoro timer with a todo list and I find it highly effective.
I find this a really useful technique and whilst I don’t always use it, when I do I find that I get much more done… (Writing this article has reminded me to make sure that I add doing Pomodoro to point 5 below).
3) Simpleology is the next tool I use. This is a training program combined with some software to help you get more done. I find it a really useful way of honing down to what is most important to me on a daily basis and beyond.
They also have a really useful browser tool, which is called the dreamcatcher. The way this works is when I have an idea I just add it to the dreamcatcher list and then forget about it until I next look at my daily tasks.
Simpleology is well worth checking out. The core functionality is free, although you can pay for the elite version if you choose later on and you can get up to a two month free trial as well.
4) Rescue Time – This is a program that runs in the background in my computer and essentially tracks where I am spending my time online. It sends you a weekly report that lets you know how you spent your time. Sometimes I try and have a competition with myself to see if I can improve the amount of productive hours vs wasteful hours… If you think you are being very productive but aren’t getting much done then this can be a really valuable tool!
5) Lift. Lift is a website with accompanying Android and Iphone apps that is designed to help you improve your habits. Depending on who you talk to doing something somewhere between 22 and 60 times in a row as a general rule engrains something as a habit.
Lift allows you to say habits that you want to do, or subjects you want to study and then allows you to track that you have done them. I am still relatively new to using this, but I am finding it really useful and it helps me keep accountable to some of the things I want to be doing regularly.
You can find me on there by looking at my profile: https://www.lift.do/app/users/4356e9ea6ec1aa82e128. I joined lift 207 days ago, and started using it just over a month ago and have checked in 156 times so far.
Since starting it I am now on day 31 of doing yoga every day and day 20 for doing press-ups… I also used it to quit sugar and now I am using it to try and quit sweets! Let’s see how we get on… I am also incidentally using it to make sure I write at least 500 words every day, of which this blog post is part, and I just added in using Pomodoro as a new habit to cultivate.
6) I find that sometimes music can really help in getting rid of distraction. I am a huge fan of the Lazify function on Spotify. This is where you find a song you like and then drag it to their lazify option and it then develops a play list. I use the free version of Spotify, which I realise makes me a bit cheap, but even the ads that come up periodically don’t seem to interfere with my being in the zone, but the music does seem to help and looking back on my most productive days I realise that they are when music is in the background.
I also recently bought some software called Scrivener which is designed to help remove distractions when writing and for making it easier. I haven’t used it that much yet but am giving it an honourable mention and suggesting it for those of you who might be heavily into writing. For now I am doing almost all of my writing either directly into WordPress, or Microsoft Word.
Hope you have found it useful. Love to hear of any time management and distraction tips you might have in the comments!