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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Staying Focused.

There are many times during my day when I have difficulty staying focused. Nothing so bad that I would consider is ADD (note my explicit lack of a medical license.) Perhaps I just have ADOLAB; short for Attention Deficit Oh Look A Bunny!

Ahem, anyway, I have to consciously think about staying on track just so I have a hope to stay focused. Here are a couple coping mechanisms I've developed:

1. Cell phone timer. It would look a little more than odd to have an egg timer sitting on my desk; and quite unsettling for others should it go off. So I set the timer app on my phone for 10-20 minute chunks if I'm having trouble with a task. 5 is too short, 30 too long. A quick little "beep" lets me know when I can take a quick mental break.

2. Coffee. This is kinda a no brainer. I do love a good cup o' joe. But Just like pizza and um, anyway, just like pizza, bad coffee is still mostly good coffee. And the institutional brand coffee our office supplies is good enough for me. I sometimes wonder how it would affect productivity if the company were to invest in some Starbucks just for Monday. I think the return on investment would be worth it!

3. Controlled distractions. This one can sometimes be a minefield. When i start to feel my brain slip beyond my control, I make a deal with myself. "Ok, you can read ONE, maybe two, articles on Jezebel or Apartment Therapy, then you're getting back to work!" This usually works, as long as I make sure not to do it more than once per hour. Gawker's impressively crappy & alienating redesign helps make sure I don't spend too much time on their sites anymore.

4. Lunch. It breaks up the day, gives me something to look forward to, and a benchmark by which I can measure my success. "I'll get this done by lunch!" actually helps.

5. Facebook. Who the hell am I kidding! If I get on facebook, I might not get back to work! Thank heavens I don't play Farmville!

6. Small projects. Hey, if I'm going to get off track with a larger project, might as well use that time to work on a couple smaller, easier projects. Sometimes it's a paper for school, a grocery list, organizing my desk, cleaning out a drawer.

7. Ooooo.....something shiny.....

8. Music. Turning on the radio, hooking up the ipod, logging onto Pandora. Music is great at providing just the right level of background distraction. It also serves as a time measure. I figure the average song is 4 minutes (I really have no idea is that's right) so I can say "I'll work on X for 2 songs" Or "I'll allow myself to be distracted just for this song"

How do you guys stay focused?

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