There are so many things to distract us from concentrating for long periods of time these days. And the problem with many of those things is that they are enjoyable, or at least addictive to some degree. Watching TV, checking social media, playing games on your smartphone—one could easily do these for hours. But we all also need to get Real Work done.
Since I already employ several anti-distraction techniques, such as only checking my email at periodic intervals, turning off email notifications, to name a couple, I have to dig a bit deeper for this one. And my distraction is…
Browser tabs! I usually open a Gmail tab, a Facebook tab, a LinkedIn tab, and have those open all the time. I also tend to pull up articles that came to me via email, and leave those tabs open until I read the articles. While I’m doing research, I tend to open up websites in new tabs, and leave those open as well. I can end up with multitudes of tabs open in multiple windows, any of which are able to distract me at any moment if I’m trying to find an excuse not to do what the f*** I’m supposed to be doing. Or, for the procrastinator’s jackpot, get compulsive and decide that I need to take care of all of those tabs right now. Of course, some people like to work this way, but it’s not the most productive for me.
Fortunately, all it’s going to take to eliminate this distraction is a little willpower, and what my mother taught me: it’s OK to make a mess while working on a project, but put everything away as soon as you’re done. Take care of those pesky tabs. Read them if they must be read, or if they need to be saved for later, save them to Pocket (for reading) or Evernote (for reference). Or create a task to deal with it, and paste the URL into the task (I currently use OmniFocus). Start the next task with a clean browser slate.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some browser tabs to take care of. Unless something distracts me from that.