8 Ways To Eliminate Distractions When Working On A Computer

Post written by Marlon Ribunal.
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With all the cool social networking tools that are available to us today, our need to be connected are easily satisfied by a simple click on the mouse. We are in an era where collaboration and communication are the main elements that drive the society. But as the gift of social networking  brought us many benefits, the necessary evil that comes with it rears its ugly head: Distractions – lots of them.

[ Recommended Book: “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long” ]

Those working in the office and the cubicle dwellers are most prone to the temptations of online distractions. Well, any activities that hamper one’s productivity are distractions.

Confront The Distraction Head On

When you confront the distraction head on, that doesn’t mean turning off the internet connection. Many companies now have some systems that depend on the internet connection. Confronting the distraction means following a strict discipline on internet usage. It’s always nice to keep your habits in check.

Schedule Your Online Activities

Schedule your work that needs internet connectivity during your peak hours. Peak hours vary depending on your working habits or patterns. If you are most like people, your peak hours could be from 9 AM – 11 AM and 1 PM – 3 PM. The reason why you need to schedule your online work around these times is that you cannot easily be swayed by the temptation of useless web surfing.

Set A Quota For Websites You Visit

Limit your online reading or viewing to a certain number of articles or videos and stick to that number. For example if you are browsing through the news, set a number of news, say five news items, that you will read and don’t go beyond that. The way this is done is you open those 5 news articles or videos into their own individual tabs or windows. Once you finish reading all of them, just close the browser. The next tip is related to this.

Don’t Click On Related Links

“Once you pop, you can’t stop”, says Pringles. And that is true with web surfing. If you give in to the temptation of clicking a link that brings you to another interesting page, chances are you will click another link from that page, and again and again and again.

Go For A Walk During Break Times

This is very much important. Go walk with a buddy and talk about meaningful stories. Unload boredom in a meaningful way. I don’t have statistics on this but I think one of the many reasons why workers resort to web surfing as an outlet of boredom is that they don’t have any other way to unload it. They look for some means to fight boredom through online entertainment. Be entertained by the natural environment in your office surroundings.

Read Personal E-mails At Home

This is one of the most common traps. Yahoo, MSN, AOL and other similar free web emails have their portals that serve news and entertainment sources. A single well-written headline is all that it takes to lure us into web surfing. Headlines are “designed” to catch our attention; and, we can easily fall to that trap. This is the reason why I use Gmail for my personal email needs.

Turn Off Your Internet Connection

Unless you need internet connectivity, you can turn off your connection until you finish your tasks. There is a software called “Freedom” that will allow you to turn off your internet connection for certain amount of time. If you think that will help, then you might try it and see if it works.

[ Recommended Book: “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long” ]

Weigh In The Benefits Of Social Networking

Are you receiving benefits from all your social networks connections and updates? Are they adding values to your overall goals in life? Maybe it’s time to go for a social network diet. You have the choice of deleting your accounts or limit your update frequency. Maybe a twice-a-week update won’t be enough reason for your friends to “unfollow” or “unfriend” you.

Photo Courtesy of xkcd

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25 Thoughts.

  1. I love the fact that one of the tips says “Don’t click on related links” yet it has a related link right below it. LOL!

  2. Pingback: Managing Workplace Distractions | bossdepot.com

  3. Pingback: Managing Workplace Distractions | bossdepot.com

  4. There’s a neat Chrome plugin called StayFocused which allows you to set time limits on sites. For instance, if you want to set a time limit on *cough* Facebook you simply to to facebook and click the plugin icon near where you enter the URL and it starts a countdown. Anytime you wander over to facebook the clock will countdown then once it reaches the limit you can’t go to FB for the rest of the day (on chrome).

  5. Christine, actually now you can know how productive and focused you are in your work, and eliminate the distractions when you are working on a computer.
    Now you can get freedom with the help of the metrics,knowing exactly how much you have worked during a day, during a week or even during a longer period of time.
    There is an aplication called WorkMeter, that it measures the productivity and the way you use you PC, so you can improve your concentration and get better results at the end of the week.
    They also have a free trial so you can try it and see what happens after. I am sure you have nothing to loose if you’ll try it, for more details click this site: http://www.workmeter.com

  6. I think that nowadays each of us can easily get distracted pretty easily, as Richard said. There are so many social media sites that it’s almost impossible not to get trapped during your work hours in sites as Facebook, Twitter, Hi5, etc, etc. “Once you Pop you can;t stop”, but i think that technology itself will find a solution, it’s own cure..I am also keeping a diary with a “to do list” as Patricia said, but it seems to be a solution on a short term, as I get bored of writting the ” To do list” each day….

    • Christine,

      Thanks for the comment.

      If you’re bored writing down items on your todo list, try to do it on weekly basis. Just make a long list once and cross them out as you finish each task. That would work. :-)

  7. I get distracted pretty easily as well. I really have to work hard at keeping to a schedule to prevent getting caught up in distractions. In particular, with smartphones nowadays, you don’t even need to be in front of a computer to be distracted by the Internet.
    Richard recently posted…Timesaver Tips- Free Traffic SystemMy Profile

    • Mobile web surfing is on the rise. Smartphones are tools that can be used toward productivity but it must be put under control as well. Convenience can sometimes lure us to places we don’t want to be in.

  8. I was getting very distracted with social media sites! However now I try to limit myself and I do have set tasks to do each day rather than do random things that I like doing and leave the rest! It is so easy to get distracted as you rightly pointed out Marlon. I am doing better with a diary with a ‘to do’ list that I can check on to make sure I am getting everything done each day. It’s getting better but still easy to click and then wonder where the last hour went! Thanks for thought provoking post.
    Patricia Perth Australia
    Patricia@lavenderuses recently posted…A Dental visit with a difference…where’s the lavenderMy Profile

    • Setting limitation – I think that is the most important thing (but oftentimes easier said than done). It takes a lot of effort and discipline!

    • My major in college was Philosophy which is not quite close to Psychology. I think these are realities in offices and cubicles. I am a cubicle dweller and I think I know what’s going on around me. We struggle at one point or another :-)

  9. “Once you pop, you can’t stop”, says Pringles. And that is true with web surfing. If you give in to the temptation of clicking a link that brings you to another interesting page, chances are you will click another link from that page, and again and again and again.

    hahahahaha thats me to a tea!

    Great post Marlon – definitely some tips here I will betaking on board

  10. Very nice post and I liked the way you share a phrase. I work at home and I find it most distracting just to turn on the computer it I have other work that must be completed. I love reading and particularly good blogs. I do about 30 minutes on Facebook and almost nothing on twitter…but I love researching and writing on the computer….I have to get other jobs completed before I push that on button or I am about 3/4s of the time hooked.

    Thank you for you kind words on my blog site, they are appreciated.

    • We tend to get hooked when working on a connected computer. Time-boxing may work in this setup. Your blog, I think, is awesome! Keep up the good work.

  11. All wonderful advice. The internet is a place that is designed to be distracting. It is very easy to get lost in a maze of clicks and suddenly wonder what you were working on in the first thing.

    Social Networking particularly is dicey. It can be a great benefit. There are a lot of ways you can use it as a tool for traffic, but it is also very easy to get sucking into it and realize you just spent 2 hours tweeting and chatting and updating facebook. It is a tool, to be effective you need to be social, but there is a limit on how much it should be utilized as a social aspect or you will waste a ton of time on there easily
    Steve@Lifestyle Design recently posted…The Most Important Four-Letter Word in BloggingMy Profile

    • That’s right, Steve! That limit must be well-defined in your productivity goals. It’d be a nice idea to include that in your “Not-To-Do” list. Social Networking can be beneficial only if it is used in the proper context.

    • I think majority of the office warriors have now access to the internet. If you cannot avoid peaking on what’s going on in the interwebs, then at least there must be some kind of control that you impose on yourself.

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