Firewall your Attention | Firewall your Attention | Gina Trapani | link

Distractions are too often a way of life, especially for those of us who are over-connected. Cell phone, office phone, Google Talk, twhirl, & Outlook are considered the norm all to often in my life so I’m preaching this one to myself first.

If I need to work or need to think then I’ve got to remember to use these same communication technologies to provide isolation. Here is a set of great tips from Lifehacker.

Reduce interruptions

Word on the street is that it takes 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to get yourself in the “zone,” that wonderfully productive place where you lose all sense of time and space and get a task done. Protect yourself from interruptions BEFORE you start in on an involved mental task to give yourself that 15 minutes and the rest of the time you need to finish off the job at hand.

Forward your office phone to voicemail and silence your cell phone. Shut down instant messenger. If it must be on, set your status to “Busy” or “I’m here, but trying to get work done, chat later.” Shut down your e-mail client. If you’re waiting for a crucial message, set your e-mail program to receive messages “quietly” and forward that must get-through e-mail to your phone. Shut down every application running on your machine that doesn’t have to do with the task at hand. If you don’t need the web to get the task done, disconnect your machine from the network. I know – it’s extreme, but I’m serious. If you’re a programmer, downloading language documentation locally before you start is a good way to avoid the temptation of the web browser.
Create a no-fly zone

If your office uses Outlook or a shared calendar, schedule an appointment with yourself that shows you as busy during the time you’re working on your task to avoid meeting requests during that time. (This is especially useful for recurring tasks, like “Write weekly status report.”)

One response to “Firewall your Attention”

  1. Ken Stewart says:

    Tsu, I’m working through this in my life right now. I’m not sure if being in the “technology industry” (if that term still holds meaning this day and age) is a precursor to having so many inputs you can’t effectively output.

    I run a small call center, amoung my many other areas of responsibility, in a high-touch company. My hair is always on fire and if I stopped taking requests today I would have at least 6 months worth of work ahead of me.

    It’s never stops and it is a lot of fun, but It’s always pulling teeth to get a “no-fly zone”.

    However, I am coming to realize that this is within my control. I am now wrestling with the ability to say no and the apprehension of disapointing those that are not use to me saying no – which has garnered me much success in the professional world.

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