I blogged on distraction blinders last year (“Cold Turkey Help for Digital Distractions”, which was, in turn, prompted by a New York Times article on this subject). These approaches are based on the idea that it’s easier to apply discipline in quick, dramatic bursts than to exercise it throughout the day. Fair enough – I can see the appeal. I often try using applications in modes that hide as much digital fluff as possible such as menus, toolbars, and status bars. F11 in Firefox is my friend when I am trying to read long articles.
The Economist’s Technology Quarterly delves into the difficulty of staying on task on a computer with so many distractions a click away. It mentions a slew of products that can help:
Freedom, Isolator, LeechBlock, Menu Eclipse, Think and Turn Off the Lights, to name a few. And many other programs, including word-processing packages Ulysses, Scrivener, WriteRoom, Dark Room and Writespace, now include a full-screen, no-distraction mode, with all unnecessary screen “furniture” (menus, palettes and so on) disabled or hidden.
This is an especially busy week for me with ten research documents I’m peer reviewing in addition to getting my own finished, so I have gone to the local coffee shop three times as my form of blocking distractions. I find that changing the environment, not connecting to the wireless, and being away from my typical office distractions results in bursts of productivity and creativity that don’t seem to happen when I multi-task.
Each information worker needs to become aware of their own situation and find what works for them. For some people, that may be software that performs attention shielding for them. Come to think of it, the software approach would have saved me all the fat and calories from the Frappacinos that my solution entails.
(picture courtesy of Articulate.com)
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