Working at a office today there is so many things around us which will compete on stealing your concentration. The information overload is upon us and at the same time we use the computer as a tool just as much in our work as in our private life. Social networks, multiple mailaccounts, calls and news-flow – they all need you attention at all times which will be a struggle to hold back while at work. Here is a few tips on how you can try to maximize your concentration while at work.
- Shut down automatic mail-fetching – The flag in your system tray may be small but every time it lit up you lose a bit of concentration. Not only this but quite often you may find yourself starting to work at the issue you just recieved instead of working on what you did from the start. Task-switching is dangerous.
- Use an alternative browser without private bookmarks – If you have one browser at your work-computer I bet you have bookmarks there for your personal sites, news-sites and networks. By installing an alternative browser in which you keep only work-related links you wont get distracted by that link to amazon.
- Read up on material – Do not start working on a task until you understand the problem you’re facing.
- Regular breaks, routine is your friend – If you usually have your morning-coffe at 9, plan it so that your body knows that you’ll get it at 9. By doing this you wont get an urge until the time is right anymore.
- Scheduele planning time for each day – Start each day by going through what you should achieve before your day is ended.
- One task at a time – Multitasking and task-switching is time-consuming. Work at one task at a time, creating sub-tasks to narrow down what it actually is you are to do.
- Keep a calm workplace – If you are working on one project, don’t let the papers for your ten other projcts linger on your desk. By just having them in your field of view you might have a big portion of your mind in the other things you did earlier.
- Reward yourself by not working on breaks – If you are on a break, take a break! Do not read mails, make work-calls and such, just take the time to restore some energy.
- Minimize surrounding sounds – If you work in an open area or in a cubicle, get a pair of headphones which stops sounds as well as play good sound. Wear these even if you are not listening to music, if so only to get a more silent work sphere.
- Socialize – Comunicate with people in your workplace or if you’re working from home, comunicate with your customers. Speaking will get your body going on that something is worth taking notice of and you will work better afterwards.
I am a great fan of the GTD-method of working and pushing my days forward. Up until just some year ago I was one of those people who say that they will fix things and do stuff just a bit later then now. And just as everyone else saying the famous phrase ‘Sure, I’ll look into that a bit later’ I always forgot what I was supposed to do and it all ended up with me doing all but what I had to do. This was before as I said, until the day I found my soulmate – The Post-it.
There is something almost religious about throwing away a post-it with a task completed. The feeling when you do it is so great that you rush towards finish your tasks just so that you can destroy that little piece of damned paper. The method is great but it has one big negative aspect; if you were to bring all your post-its with you at all times you may need a trailer or a couple of square-meters of wall. This might not always be the most convenient way, sometimes a trailer is just to big to bring for a conference or a meeting. This was why I started to look for an electronic alternative I can have at my computer or in my phone, just about anywhere I can reach it in multiple locations.
About the same time I tried out my hundredth note-taking application I found Evernote and was saved in a way. Evernote for those who don’t know it is an application and a web-interface where you can store text and images which then can be searched through from your computer or phone. In my book it is THE best note-taking software on the market and the simplicity it brings makes and saves my day over and over again. Mails I need to remeber goes directly into it, I take pictures of good wines or places to remember etc. Now you may think that this was the solution to note-taking as well? Well, WRONG!
There is one thing missing about Evernote to use it as a post-it replacement. There is no visual representation of finishing a task off and I want my cookie! So I had to keep on looking for that replacement. And I continued until I finally found Things for my iPhone. Awesomeness divine.
Things is just as simple as I want, you create notes and say if you want to do it today or another day. When you have finished it you click it and a nice checkbox get checked. And I have my visual cookie for completing my task. The bad thing is though that I think that what tool works for just you is as personal as what color is your favourite for your socks. I’d love to say that get Evernote and Things and you will be forever happy – The End.
But I think you just have to through all stuff you can find on the internet and try them out for yourself. Or you just take my word for it and use Evernote and Things. We’re all lazy, isn’t it beautiful?