Working alone and from home, I have really struggled with staying focused on client work. I love to read and learn new things, so I find myself continually looking at twitter and web development websites throughout the day. I was on occasion finding that I of the 8 hours that I had been at my desk, I had spent only 2 hours working on billable projects. This is clearly a model that will not sustain my lifestyle, so something had to change. This post will therefore show how I have adopted some time management systems and tools in an attempt to stay focused, increase my concentration and ultimately boost my productivity.
First I tried the app Time Sink (http://manytricks.com/timesink/) by Many Tricks. It certainly told me where my time was going, but stop me from going there! I needed something to physically limit my digital wandering…so I installed…
Self Control is a free app available for the MAC from http://selfcontrolapp.com. This seemed to be just the thing I needed, it allows you to block every site on the internet (except for those on your whitelist) thus allowing you to get to http://www.stackoverflow.com for those important development answers, but not get to http://www.buzzfeed.com. To be honest, Self Control was not the first app of this kind I had tried but it was the only one which didn’t reset after a reboot. …terrible I know, it’s like I should be in rehab – I mean rebooting my machine just to get to http://www.bbe.co.uk/news because I hadn’t looked at it for 10 minutes. ..I think it’s called information addiction – or if it’s not it should be.
So anyway, this little app allows you to set a timer for a time period of your choosing and on pressing Start, it blocks all those internet sites and twitter & facebook apps that eat up your time…and best of all, no amount of rebooting unblocks them. Of course if we really wanted to reset it, there a number of things we could do – but are we really that desperate? As it turns out, we probably are – my kindle fire seemed to be making frequent trips to my desk. That aside – it is a great app. I found setting the timer for smalls chunks like 15 or 30 minutes to be most effective. I generally just kept on working right on past the timer end for another 15 or 30 minutes.