I have found myself wasting minutes here and there lately – a game of Bejeweled Blitz or Color Grid on my phone, a bit of web surfing, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter.*
It adds up over time.
And I don’t have time to waste over the rest of this break.
The big challenge is that I need to use my computer and the internet to do so much of what needs to get done that I needed to find a good way to stay focused on the tasks at hand.
So I did a bit of research and found a couple of apps and extensions for my computer and my smartphone so that I didn’t need to worry about even being tempted.
I like Chrome because it has all kinds of handy extensions. The one I installed today is called Stay Focused. This web app allows you to set allowed sites and blocked sites as well as time schedules or time allowances for being on the sites you’re not supposed to be on. There’s a bonus Nuclear Option that turns off access to everything other than allowed sites for a set period of time. I set the Nuclear Option for an hour this afternoon and by the time that hour was up, I hadn’t even bothered looking to get on other sites because I was so busy doing what I needed to get done. And I set my blocked sites time allowance for 10 minutes a day between 7 AM and 9 PM – all I did were three quick checks on FB and I am down to 5:30/10:00 minutes. Not too bad.
I didn’t want to be tempted to fiddle with my cell phone (a Droid) either. So I set up a couple of things to keep distractions to a minimum.
One that I had already is Scharing Schedule-A-Ring. It sets schedules for when your phone will ring, vibrate, or stay silent. It’s brilliant and has never yet let me down.
Another one I had was Simply Noise – it is a simple-to-use white/pink/brown noise generator that gently blocks out distracting noises around you. This mobile app is incredible to have handy. I have recommended it and it’s associated web app to students and friends.
The last one was a new one. It’s called Stay Focused. You can set it up to turn off text messaging or apps or phone calls for a set amount of time or for a scheduled time by day. Since some apps might actually be helpful to leave on, you do have the option to turn off the apps you want to turn off.
So how did it work? I spent about four hours hunkered down doing work – finishing up continuing ed credits to renew my pharmacy tech certification (which I had forgotten was expiring until about two weeks ago). I managed to get 12 credit hours done in that time. Not too shabby.
Bonus focus app: I’m writing this on Write or Die’s web app right now. I set the timer and how long I wanted my post to be and I didn’t have to worry about hearing that awful noise once because I powered through and wrote until I met my goal. Funny. I more than doubled what I intended to write and I haven’t slowed down yet.
Surely I’m not the only one who has this problem with getting distracted…am I?
*Okay. Facebook and Twitter aren’t always time-wasting activities. Sometimes it’s purposeful and useful reading and interacting with others. Good learning experiences. The time-wasting scrolls are all about finding Grumpy Cat posts and seeing if anyone responded to that post I wrote five minutes ago. Seriously. I don’t need to do that.