I get serious digital cravings – instead of reaching for a cookie, Facebook, Twitter and blogs can easily serve as my sugar fix during the day. It’s just so easy to get sucked in and then your whole day can go by with nothing of note accomplished. (I’m particularly looking at you, Reddit).
I found I was getting more and more distracted (and consumed) by overwhelming content…and I needed a way to prevent me from going there.
This one fix quickly changed how I stopped going down the rabbit hole of social media.
I use Google Chrome as my primary browser. Chrome allows you to install extensions (small programs that extend the functionality of the browser).
I found an amazing free extension called “Stay Focused.”
You can configure this free program to block any number of websites for a set period of time. I’ve set it to block Facebook, Twitter and a few other sites from the hours of 9-5. When I try to go to those sites, I get sent to a white page that nudges me with the following text “Shouldn’t you be working?”
Boom. Instant feedback that gets me back on track.
You can set this up block a set period of time, days and even minutes – you might just be amazed at how much time you’re spending on these sites!
How to install the Get Focused extensions
- You will need to use Google Chrome as your browser
- Get the Stay Focused extension here
- Click “add to chrome”, then click Add
- You should see this blue icon in the top right corner of your browser.
- Click the icon, then click Settings and modify to your requirements!
The two machine setup.
Now I know it might sounds crazy, but having two computers on my desk actually keeps me MORE focused. I use my main larger imac for designing and developing my projects. I then keep a macbook air to my left. I use the laptop for communication with other team members on slack, running video calls or checking email. Having the two system setup also allows me to do quick research without taking me out of design mode.
The pomodoro technique
If you’ve been around the world of personal development or been exposed to the idea of Getting Things Done you may have heard of the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer (I just use my iPhone) for a block of 24-45 minutes (any longer and your mind will start to wander..) Focus on that ONE thing you need to get done and don’t give into the social media demon. When the block is over, stretch for a few, regroup and get on to your next task. You’ll be amazed at how fast the day goes by – and how much you get done!
Using gmail? Set-up “filters” to send all those fantastic newsletters you signed up for to their own little folder. That way they stay out of your inbox (and out of your head). When you’ve got some time to kill (hey there DMV line) you can peruse the content at your leisure. One other trick? I block out 2 hours a week for my own education – this is a great chance to catch up on all the great new content being produced without interrupting your regular work. I still haven’t made it to the holy grail of inbox zero, but I get pretty darn close. I aim to keep less than 40 emails in my inbox at any one time.