Nowadays, people spend a lot of time on computers, whether its for work or at home, its a regular part of life. When you are actually trying to accomplish something on your computer though, its VERY easy to get distracted from your task and find yourself completely off topic or doing something you didn’t even mean to start doing. The internet makes this extremely easy since most computers are now hooked up to the internet all the time and everything is just a few clicks away.
Well, this article will give you some ideas to make sure you make the most of the your computer time by eliminating some of those common computer distractions. I recommend doing most of these things all the time on your computer so your time spent is always easier to keep on task and productive, but you may want to start by only picking one or two of these suggestions or perhaps by only doing them all when you are REALLY choosing to be productive. My question to you then though, is why wouldn’t you always want to be more productive?
So, I’m sure there are many more distractions but I believe these cover most of the common ones. I use windows but most of these apply to MAC users as well, some things will obviously have different names though. Here’s what you can do to eliminate those distractions and maximize your productivity:
Shutdown Tray Applications
Not only will this eliminate some of the distractions, flashing icons, and color eye-candy, but it will also save system resources so your computer responds faster which helps you get more done. There are many applications that put an agent or service into the tray icon and many of them allow you to either hide the icon or simply choose NOT to launch it at startup. Anything that really does need to run and has a tray icon can be hidden using the option to hide inactive tray icons.
Hide the Task bar
The whole task bar in windows can be very distracting. It shows the tray, flashes when a window has been updated but not yet viewed and it constantly reminds you of other applications open (if you have any). Hiding the task bar can really help you to stay focused since you won’t see these distractions as easily.
Use Full screen Mode
Personally, I prefer this method over hiding the task bar. Most applications will allow you to run them in full screen mode (F11 usually, try it now!) which eliminates all window borders, covers the full screen so you can’t see any other applications, task bars, etc. This is a great way to stay focused on what you are doing in one application. This is available for all common applications, try it out sometime I think you will find you get a lot more done when you use this feature!
Don’t Use Instant Messengers
Instant messengers are sure convenient. A convenient way for others to interrupt you that is. If you are wanting to be productive, simply turn them off. Putting your status as off line or busy is an option but many instant messengers play a sound or show a message even when it detects your contacts coming on and off line. You don’t need to see this, so turn all those options off. Its even better to just completely shut off your instant messaging applications.
Loose All Email Notifiers
I’ve written previously about tips to use email more effectively , and the main point to use for this is to shut off your email, kill all the email notifiers and simply don’t use your email. Whatever you are working on, as long as it isn’t email itself, you don’t need any incoming messages or spam to distract you. Just shut it off!
Get Rid of Desk bars, Gadgets, Side Trays and Docks
All of these features and tools are helpful to get some information to help organize or launch your applications but they aren’t really useful to getting done the things you want to do on your computer. Load your application you want, and then focus on that application. You don’t need all these extra tools to be pushing information in your face and getting in your way. Turn them off, uninstall them, replace them with a simple launch tool or menu that doesn’t constantly get in the way. Most docks and gadgets are built to simply look nice, but they are more distracting than useful. Auto hide them or simply quit them once you are setup to do some productive work.
Disconnect the Internet
OK, take a breath. Its OK, you’ll be OK if you are not online for just a little while. The internet is the biggest distraction of all on a computer and that web browser can be just as evil as your email when you are really trying to accomplish something. Just unplug your ethernet connection, or kill power to your modem/dsl, or disable the network connection in your control panel. All of these things work and will definitely deter you from using the internet and getting distracted by it. Whenever I do this I’m always surprised that after a little bit of work I’ll catch myself seeing an error message after loading a web browser completely unaware. Seeing an error that the internet connection is unavailable and realizing why, reminds my to stay focused, and its easy to then close the web browser and get right back on task. If the internet was active, I’d find myself wasting 1/2 an hour before even realizing I loaded the browser. Its kind of scary that this is required, but it definitely works, give it a try yourself.
OK, nearly everyone has a music collection on their computers now and while this is VERY convenient and nice to use, its still distracting and hard to keep yourself from looking through your song list, building play lists, rating songs and listening to online music. Well, my solution is to listen to the radio. You don’t get to choose the music, you can’t spend any time organizing or rating the songs, you simply listen. No wasting time on the music itself. So, if you can’t start your music collection playing and just leave it going all day without EVER switching to your music application, then the radio is a great alternative.
Clean Your Computer Area
Distractions don’t only come from your computer itself. Often your work area is just as distractive with toys, garbage, food, gadgets, people and other things around. Cleaning up your work area can make it far easier to focus with no distractions and just a little tidiness can go a long way.
Dim the Lighting
Lighting can be distracting at a computer, especially flickering or bright reflections on your monitor. If you can dim the lights and work in a comfortable room where your monitor is easy on your eyes and lit with ambient lighting and not too bright, its much easier to work for extended periods of time.
Improve your Work Area
The same goes for having a comfortable desk and chair that are comfortable that properly fit your posture and room. You may even want to consider getting a better work station and computer desk. Here is a sweet example of what looks to be one productive computer desk. This computer desk is available from The Vision One .
Habits Require Practice
Being really productive is not just a one time thing. If you take some of these items and practice them at home and at your workplace (if you use a computer) then you can certainly make the most of your computer time. Developing a habit of these and practicing them on a continual basis will train you to stay much more focused at your computer and be far more productive.
Do you have any tips to add that help you be more productive at your computer?
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