Tuesday 27 September 2016

Friday Five: Managing Digital Distractions

Let’s face it—digital tools are constantly competing for our attention in this business. Paying attention to how we’re spending time is becoming more and more important for companies and individuals. Here are some ways to avoid digital distractions so you can buckle down and get some work done.

1. Avoid multitasking.
The lure of taking your eyes off a current project can be tempting. However, when you lose focus on something you’re working on, you can lose time. Try blocking time in your day to work on projects for a period of time before going back to your distractions. Crises and urgent requests will always trump this rule, but buckling down with just you and your to-do list once in a while can lead to some productive work sessions.

2. Limit your time on websites.
A colleague recently shared what is quickly becoming my new favorite tool: StayFocused. It’s a Google Chrome extension that lets you limit the amount of time you can spend on a website each day. If you’re guilty of staying up late in your personal time on Facebook, Tumblr or Pinterest, install this extension and limit your time on each site. If you reach your limit, the extension will automatically block you from that site.

3. Put your mobile phone in a drawer when you’re at your desk.
If you’re like me, your personal mobile phone is nearby wherever you go. It’s so easy to reach for your phone every time you hear the ping of a text message, Twitter reply or Facebook notification. However, every time you reach for your phone, you’re losing focus and missing time. Try putting your phone in a drawer and limit yourself to checking your phone infrequently. You’ll be surprised how much time you save.

4. Evaluate what tools you’re currently using and why.
I know I’m guilty of signing up for any new service when it comes out even though it doesn’t necessarily serve a relevant purpose for me (Quora, Buzz, MySpace, etc.). Once in a while, perform an informal audit on where you’re spending your time online. What’s the purpose of this tool? Are you spending too much time on it? If you find the tool set you’re using isn’t giving you anything of value, perhaps you should reevaluate why you’re spending that time on that tool.

5. Make your time online more efficient.
What Dilbert might chuckle at with irony, the most focused people say with conviction: work smarter, not harder. I think this adage is highly applicable to your time online. Here are a few suggestions on how to be more efficient with your time:

  • If you follow hundreds or even thousands on Twitter, it might be hard to stay on top of your feed. If you can’t check Twitter all day, you can make lists of the accounts you’re most interested in following to easily check that content.
  • Another way to make Twitter more efficient is using search tools like TwitFlink and the advanced search operators on Twitter Search to see who’s talking about specific topics.
  • Block time during the day to enjoy your digital distractions and set a time limit. You’ll work more efficiently when you have a deadline for yourself.
  • If you’re someone who likes to tweet articles and links on Twitter, try using Tweetdeck or Cotweet to schedule tweets in advance so you can free up time during the day.

How do you manage digital distractions?

Image Credit: Ryan Ritchie


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