Productivity in a Distraction Filled World

1355885629_58de14a369_m.jpgMy local library now offers free internet access. I used to go there because it was a naturally distraction free place to write. I could use my laptop without twitching to click “check mail”, because it couldn’t check mail. Now I have to exercise steely resolve not to Google when I know I should be writing.

I’m sure there will be times when I find the connection useful, but I’m noticing that more and more of us are getting into the habit of constantly checking emails, blog stats, myspace messages etc and as the wireless age kicks in, there are fewer and fewer places where the temptation to Twitter isn’t there.


All of a Twitter

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, they may fun, but they eat up time and mental energy. All the productivity gurus will tell you that if you want to get things done, turning off distractions is the first step. Here are a couple of quick and easy ways to deal with distractions in the home and find more time for productivity, or peaceful reflection.


Unplug the Television

Literally, get up and pull the plug out of the wall. The trouble with having a television in the house is that it’s too easy to turn it on, and once you do, you’re lost. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience says that television invokes the exact opposite of the flow state.Television is addictive. The more we watch, the more we want to watch, and the more we slide into a passive state of non-productivity. Personally, I would rather live on a home with no TV, but since the silver screen and I inhabit the same house, pulling the plug means I get more done.The trouble with TV and remote controls is that it’s just too easy to flop in a chair and click the “on” button. When the TV isn’t plugged in that can’t happen. By actually pulling the plug out of the wall you are making a conscious choice to use your time productively.

3 quick ways to tame your television habit:

1. Unplug it when you need to be doing other things

2. Cut back on random viewing by recording programs of interest to watch later

3. Develop supportive alternatives to zoning out in front of the box - walking, reading, or meditation are just a few of the many simple and self-supportive things you can do instead of being a couch potato.


Enjoy Telephone Free Time

If you want to develop focus, how about turning off the phone for a couple of hours a day? Many of us who work from home and have children feel obliged to answer the phone in case the school needs to contact us. There’s no way I want to be unavailable to my daughter's school, but at the same time, I can’t write or record if the phone keeps ringing. Jane Alexander, author of The Overload Solution suggests keeping a dedicated mobile phone just for emergency contact for carers or schools and to turn all other phones off while you’re working. Some mobile phones can be set to ring only when a VIP number calls, that gives the freedom to have your phone with you, but not be bothered by it unless it’s really necessary.

photo by TheUnionForever