Just like sleeping straight through the night is a challenge for many people, so too is finishing work without diversions. Here's what you can do to stay on course and finish what you start.
2) Anticipate your bodily functions. Use the washroom before starting your next task, keep a glass of water handy in case you get thirsty, and have a box of tissues within reach if you're allergy-prone.
3) Reserve time for your distractions. That's why smoking breaks were invented.
4) Buffer yourself from zones of activity by sitting away from doorways at your office, the living room in your home or near windows facing a busy street. Unless out of your vicinity, it's tough to ignore sudden movements like a bird noisily flapping down to your windowsill or someone walking by with a stack of noisy faxes crinkling.
5) Organize your work area and keep it clean. Anything lying around is a physical stumbling block to work serenity, especially if placed between you and your computer screen. If a letter, bill or other document is lying on your desk, take care of it immediately or schedule it for later and then file it. If you have a physical inbox for snail mail, go through it first thing in the morning or at another regular time every day.
6) Get a faster computer. Having to wait for your computer to boot up, start a program or finish loading a file are all invitations to aim your mind elsewhere.
7) Get a faster internet connection and use multiple tabs when you browse the web. Anything to keep from waiting with a blank stare (and mind) while a web page is rendering or a download is finishing.
8) Close any computer applications that you aren't using. Every running application impacts the speed of the computer, and may tempt you when you least desire it.
9) Arrange the icons on your computer's Desktop and only keep the minimum necessary. Having many icons beneath your open windows increases the chance of you clicking on one by accident and interrupting whatever you were in the middle of doing.
10) Resist the urge to put all sorts of Google Widgets, Yahoo! Widgets or other Widgets on your computer's Desktop. Like my Digg Widget example – they encourage you to frequently ‘check the action on your Desktop' when you should be busy somewhere above the Desktop.
11) Mac user? Some suggestions just for you.
12) Remove any programs from your work computer that aren't related to the mission that you're trying to accomplish. There's a reason why Windows Solitaire may be one of the most popular pieces of software ever. If you can't uninstall these programs for whatever reason, at least remove any shortcuts to them from your desktop or Start Menu so that they can't tempt you when you're looking for Word or Openoffice.
It isn't very surprising that most of these tips and warnings are computer-related.
Computers are ubiquitous and most working people use one every single day. Technology has simplified our lives tremendously and will continue to do so, permitting us to perform many daily activities while planted in front of our monitors where in the past we would have needed to get up and walk away.
In theory we should be more efficient but in reality people are more easily tempted towards distraction due to the ‘it'll only take a minute' syndrome. Scientists are working on the problem, but if you follow the steps above, you'll be well-prepared regardless.
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