I’ve been noticing lately that is getting harder and harder for me to keep my attention in the thing I’m doing with all the distractions around. Apart from already working on a purposely distractive environment (I feel a post coming on this subject soon…), I’ve been noticing some patterns in my behaviour that are just not working:

  • I check my emails, twitter updates and similar stuff just way too much.
  • My browser has always multiple tabs open, which always makes it tempting to move to the next tab when I’m working on it
  • IM and Skype clients are always on when my computer is on, which makes it easy to get interrupted, and also to start chatting with someone and forgetting about what I was doing. This was specially bad since I have friends/co-workers all around the world now, which means there is no time of day or night when I’m online that I won’t find someone wanting to have a chat : )
  • My to-do list management has just been going out of control

So the Twitterverse has pointed me to this eBook about why you should and how you could stay more focused in the activity you are doing. Since it was a current topic on my head (and also because the book is quite short), I’ve upgraded it in my reading list went through it in a couple of days.

If you have some time to spare and are also facing the same situation I would recommend reading it. If not because of the content (more on that in a bit), just because it will help convince you to take action on the problem instead of procrastinating, which was what I was doing.

The book itself (I’m talking about the free version here, didn’t read the premium one) starts by illustrating how difficult is to keep focused in the “Distraction Age” and does some reasoning around why is it important. I’m sure it’s nothing new, but it’s always good to read some old ideas again to see if they stick to your mind.

It follows with some suggestions and practices about how you can clear your distractions, simplify your work and stay focused. It’s a collection of simple ideas that might not be useful to everyone, but I’ve found that it gave me some good insights on how to change. I was specially surprised with the tools section, where the author list some software tools that can help you being more focused when working in your computer.

After the reading and with a refreshed mind, I’ve decided to move into action. Here’s what I will try to do in case you are curious or need some inspiration:

  • Not have my email open on the browser when my computer is on
  • Check my email only at specific times of the day (will try to start with 4x a day)
  • Whenever using the browser, have only one the minimum amount of tabs open with what’s needed for me to complete my current task
  • Close Adium and Skype whenever I’m doing something that doesn’t involve communicating
  • Use WriteRoom as a text editor to write my blog posts in a focused app (I guess it’s working, since I’m writing this one..)
  • Moved my to-do list to use a collection of SimpleNote apps for the iPad, Mac and Android, in order to use a simpler and cheaper set of tools (was using Remember The Milk before, which I didn’t have it on my phone or iPad)

Don’t want to be radical here, so it doesn’t meant that there won’t be times when I will be on my computer doing random things and just browsing the web or chatting with whoever it’s online. But hopefully when I’m doing something specific, I will be able to get more into it and being more successful in completing it.

Wish me luck!

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