I’ve self-diagnosed my issue with online productivity. I have….
See if this sounds familiar. You turn on your computer with a specific task in mind. You want to download a file that someone emailed you. It’s for a project that you’re starting on today. You open your email and see that you got a Facebook message with a subject line like “Need some help with this big problem” and think Hmm… Sounds important. Better check that out before I get my file.
You open the email. Your friend is having trouble with another friend and wants some advice. So you head over to Facebook and type an encouraging (and hopefully helpful) email back. That’s what a good friend does, right?
While you’re on Facebook you see in your news feed that your sister uploaded new pictures of the kids. A good aunt would check those out and leave some Oh how ADORABLE comments on them, right? So you do. You also find a coupon for your favorite shampoo. You take the time to authorize the app, like the page, and print it because you’re trying to be frugal when you shop. That’s what a good money manager would do, right?
You figure you should get off Facebook – because who has time to be there!? – and you close all the tabs on that browser window (including the Gmail one). You start to walk away from the computer when you get that feeling that you forgot something. It takes a minute, but you remember the file that you needed.
Can I get an AMEN?
I’m sure I’m not the only one with Digital ADD. We have SO much electronic noise in our lives these days that it’s hard to tune out what’s not important. We flit from one task to the next just because something catches our eye. And all those online goodies are designed to captivate us.
So how do we balance the important online tasks we have to complete with the ones that drain our time and attention? Here’s what I’ve been trying to do lately:
:: Realize It’s Happening ::
If we don’t pay attention, we don’t realize that there are problems. It took me a little while to figure out why I didn’t have time to get my to-do list done. When I watched my own online patterns for a couple of days, I realized what I was doing. Then I was able to take action and make changes.
:: Use a List ::
I love a good list. There’s something quite satisfying about crossing things off a list and calling them done. For our design business, I keep our to-do list on my computer. It’s easy for me to move tasks around and prioritize them there. A simple cut/paste moves a task to the top of the list. If your computer has a sticky note program on it, you can use that to keep the to-do list front and center on your desktop.
:: Focus on Why You’re There ::
Why did you swing by Facebook in the first place? I often go to Facebook to post something on this page’s wall, and find myself being sucked in by updates on my personal news feed. I’m trying to get into the habit of posting on this page’s wall and then closing the window. I’m successful about 50% of the time, but it’s getting better.
:: Allow Some Mindless Time ::
All work and no play? Well we know how that goes. I’ve been trying to allow myself some electronic free time. Once I get certain tasks done, I can reward myself with 15 minutes of Pinterest browsing or Facebook reading. If you tend to lose track of time, you could even set a timer for your play time.
I’m hoping that the key to curing Digital ADD is just knowing ourselves. We each know which website or social media venue captures our attention. I’ll be spending this week trying to tune out the digital noise and tune in to my to-do list. Then of course I’ll reward myself with a little free time…
Pinterest, anyone? 🙂