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Focus, People! Focus!

May 24, 2010

In a world where everyone seems to be diagnosing themselves as having ADD or ADHD, where checking for new emails and social network updates are done throughout the day with almost religious fervour, where the pinging of a new chat/IM message gets our instant attention and the days seem to be getting shorter and shorter despite ‘time-saving’ gadgets and gizmos… how do we keep focus and get things done?

I found an interesting article called The Distraction Society. I started reading it four days ago and have only now just finished it. It’s not that it was long or uninteresting. In fact it was very interesting… hence this post. It took me four days to finish reading it, because (ironically enough) I kept getting distracted.

I’ve tried restructuring my day with breaks to ‘refresh and regroup’, but somehow I never seem to stay entirely on track when online. All good intentions are but a hyperlink away from going down the pothole. Plus, I work from home which, I believe,  makes it even harder; there are no coworkers or bosses around, no strict office environment to keep you somewhat inline and laundry has suddenly become a very appealing task.

Generally the consensus seems to be that one needs to start by turning off email alerts and checking it only at infrequent, but routine intervals… say once at 10am and once again at 4pm. And that’s it. No more, no less. Same goes for facebook and any other distracting websites… wait they’re all distracting! Well, if you’re anything like me they are.

I’ve spent countless hours on Wikipedia, for example. It all starts out rather innocently. I’ll be reading the news in the morning when I come across something I’m not really familiar with. I open up Wikipedia to find out a little bit more about whatever it is only to discover that there’s a link (or ten) in the article that refers to something else I’m interested in, but don’t know that much about. Suddenly I find that two hours have passed and that while I may have started reading about Josip Broz Tito, a few seemingly innocuous clicks has led me to the Ottoman Wars, and after a few more clicks to Transylvania, Bohemianism, Honoré de Balzac until finally I’m staring at a page entitled ‘The Odessa Catacombs’. For example.

Sometimes the weapon of mass distraction is eBay or Facebook or Twitter or a blog or… well, it could be anything with me really. Give me something to click and I’m like a toddler with a box. Distracted for hours. Or perhaps that was just me as a toddler…

In any case, the point is that with web distractions so easily accessible the only solution seems to be to either block certain sites, log out of others or… dare I even say it? Disconnect the internet. Not all day long, of course, but for a solid five or six hour block perhaps?

On that note, the laundry is done.



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