Last week, I wrote about the importance of unblending online activities… I must admit, this is challenging stuff!
After (miraculously!) taking my own advice and becoming more aware of my clicking habits, I’ve realised that the time of day matters a lot.
Basically, the later it gets, the more danger I am in of wasting time:
If I’ve got up at 5.30am to write, I write. But at 8.30pm at night, once all the little enemies are in bed, the household chores are done (well, done-ish), suddenly I’m indecisive.
Should I do the grocery order or finalise that blog post? Reply to that email or tweet that cool link?
Night-time is even worse – I go to check my email one last time (terrible habit) and end up having a sudden surfing burst and getting to bed too late and with that sore screen-burnt-eyes feeling.
So, how do you unblend your online activities?
Sadly this is all about focusing on the task at hand and not getting distracted. I hate that. This is what works for me best:
- Use a timer – a favourite strategy of mine
- Either on your computer or kitchen timer; that ticking in the background really does help you stay focused.
- Use a to-do list
- Is it just me who gets bizarrely overwhelmed from time-to-time with what should be a super-easy task? I live by my to-do list and recently I’ve realised that it works a lot better if I put down all the little babysteps instead of things which are actually whole projects.
- Check for indecision
- If I’m not sure what I should be working on, and flitting between tasks, it’s super-easy to do some random surfing.
- Have a new media plan
- I know, it sounds very serious but it needn’t be. Think about what it is you are trying to accomplish and what activities you need to do weekly or daily to do that. Mine is: post weekly, to respond to comments, to tweet every few days and to forget about Facebook for now. I’ll probably revise it soon but it keeps me vaguely on track, especially if I get sucked into surfing random strangers on Facebook (Or is it just me who is so
What do you do if you realise you getting sucked into time-wasting?
- Make a new habit – to pause after 3 clicks
Then look at the clock. Keep clicking if you want to but just let yourself see the time.
- Switch it off the wifi or go somewhere you have no connection
Get offline and work there for an hour or two and notice when you feel the urge to surf.
- Give it a name
Now that I’ve named the behaviour, I find it easily to recognise: ‘Oh, I’m doing Random Clicking at the moment, maybe I should be doing [insert Task At Hand]‘
- Be aware of the Task At Hand
I’m much more likely to indulge in some ‘research’ when I’m actually struggling with a task. If you are having some difficulties, try to pinpoint what it is you need to get on with it – it might be more information, you might not be quite clear on something, you might be revising what you thought you should do.
Now for the fun bit…
- Reward yourself
This sounds counter-intuitive but at the end of a task, allow yourself to check something. I love looking at knitting patterns – daft at the moment as I don’t have time to knit – so 5 or 10 minutes browsing Pattern Fish or Ravelry or catching up on Guardian books is always pleasant.
- Build-in some random surf time
Accept it – allow yourself a daily fix. Want half an hour to just browse around? Do it, just do your other tasks first.
Quite hilariously, given the subject matter of the post, when I was working on this post last night, I got terribly distracted by some interesting articles. Here are a few of them – to save for an appropriate time, of course!