Monday, May 31, 2010

How I overcame by Attention Deficit ?

The Problem:

That is my iGoogle page, i.e my personalized homepage. See how many tabs I have. I follow some 40 blogs and assuming that each one updates atleast one post I read 40 posts. And blogs like techcrunch and techmeme post more than one post per day. So even though I was working on some other thing, I would alt-tab to this read one blog post and continue working. Now a  days there is twitter too. Somebody tweets a link and I will read it. That way I used to read read and read. If I am reading something, then I will not comeback to my work till that article is done. Sometimes, there would be more links in the main article and it would some serious time lost before I come back to my work again.  Now imagine my productivity. I used to do just fine before when my work was a little less and when I had no time constraints. Now a days due to some reasons I have to work with 8:30 -4:30 and this distractions were killing my productivity. Now as you know humans cannot multi-task well and guys are even bad at it. So I decided to do something about it.

Working For a Solution:
So I decided to see how much time I was working and how I was getting distracted. I observed that looking at twitter or igoogle was the main reason I was getting distracted. But I simply couldn't stop myself from doing that whenever I have to wait for a build or deployment. I saw my results in rescuetime and saw that my productivity was very very low.

So I was to somehow overcome the addiction to news, opinion and breaking news But the problem was I liked it. So what should I do? 

I tried to tackle it in two different ways. First, I have to read but I should not read every breaking news. But I shouldn't read during the time I am working simply because it is a big loss to my productivity. I have read in may time management solutions, that if there is something we want to do at a later time, our mind tries to remember it by recalling it again and again for the fear that it will forget it. And the easy solution to it is to write it down somewhere. So I decided that if I come across a good article sometime during the day, I will use the ReadLater bookmarklet to bookmark it. Also, there is a better chance of avoiding it if the environment is clear of it. So I have decided that I will not open chrome browser during working hours. Because of its ease of use, though I open it for some work related search, I tend to open igoogle and get stuck. So I would use IE and then because of the unfriendly interface, I will close it after the official work. And then I scheduled some time in the evening to read all the articles I have scheduled to read later. This way I was able to concentrate well on what I was doing. Basically, I made it less exciting to get distracted then (unfriendly browser) then postponed it as a reward for getting it done (Read Later)
The second way in which I tackled was getting more clarity in what I was doing. I would get a deluge of requests and I would handle them as they come. Hence as a request comes, I would stop the current one, go and look at the new one, reply to it and then come back to the old one, which took a lot of time in context-switching and lost me a lot of time. So I stopped doing that. I would write down all my tasks in the outlook

This helped me keep perspective and be mindful of what I am doing and hence helped me do my work more productively and writing down the tasks helped to eliminate the mind chatter. There was also an option of setting reminders which helped in following up on the tasks. Here I  put everything into tasks and worked on them sequentially. Ofcourse, I had to prioritize but mostly I stuck to what I decided.  
So this helped me to increase my productivity to a different level. I am sharing this becuase in this information and social media age, there will surely something which will catch our attention and we can get easily distracted. But it feels good to use technology to beat the ill effects of technology. Hope it helps you.


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