Thursday, 9 August 2007

Some thoughts on productivity

I have something to admit. It's not a big secret, but it's not something I'm terribly proud of. I'm a procrastinator. Through and through. Give me a task that needs to be done today, and I'll think of some way to put it off til the last possible minute. If it needs doing by tomorrow, then chances are I won't do it today. And worse than that, I have no attention span either. Something has to be hugely engaging to keep my attention, otherwise I'll be wanting to do something else, be given new, different stimulus.

Now, this has always been a problem for me, and it's something that's only gotten worse over the last few years. I've always found the internet distracting (in the most glorious and wonderful of ways) and the slew of information available now sends me into such a tizzy of over-stimulation and attention deficit that I scarecely know where to look.

I want to fix this. I really do. It annoys me ever so much that I can scarcely focus on a task without wanting to quickly check my email or my rss feeds or twitter or a news site or whatever or whatever (the list of things that I can find distracting is near endless). But it's hard. There's so much out there to be distracted by, and I'm an information seeker by nature - I want to know all the new things that are happening in the world. But I need to be able to keep it in check, particularly when I have work to be doing. And sometimes it's hard to find the willpower on my own.

In an attempt to deal with this, I've just started using the Leechblock extension for Firefox at work.

Now, I'm not meant to use Firefox at work, but I really do find it far easier to be productive with Firefox. There are so many extensions that make my browsing life easier and more productive, that being without them just makes my day far more frustrating than it needs to be. And tabbed browsing is a blessing when you're looking at lots of articles and cases at once. (Actually, there was a whole good post in the Wall Street Journal last month about tips for getting around backwards IT policies to make your work day just a bit easier, but it wasn't me that sent you if your IT department comes knocking).

But anyway. Leechblock is fabulous - you can give it a list of sites that you don't want to be able to access (I go with the basic timewasters - Facebook, Bloglines, Flickr, stats sites), and give it exceptions for one's that you do, and a list of times, and that's it! You won't be going there. You can even turn off the ability to access the edit screen during the times you've set, to remove that extra piece of temptation. There is also the option to set up multiple profiles, so you could have different settings for different situations.

This is a bit of a hardline approach (I have no willpower, I know!), and does rely on me pretending that IE isn't on my desktop (but that's ok, I don't want to use IE anyway), but it does seem to help in putting a bit of a barrier between me and my procrastination.

Does anyone else have any good tricks for keeping the internet timewasters at bay when you have work to get done? I can't be the only one fighting off the lure of the internets :)

1 comment:

Jennie said...

I'm a huge procrastinator too...but one without even the willpower to use a programme like that! I think I actually prefer the stress of realising that I've got 3 hours work to do in 1.5 hours, cos I've been blog and link hopping!

Sorry, no help really, but just to let you know you're not alone on the Interweb-provoked ADD!