Keep Twitter, Facebook, and email hidden where you can’t see them.
That’s it. That’s the whole tip. I’ve had an extremely productive two days doing just that.
Previously, I’d be working diligently while TweetDeck, Facebook, and email are still visible. Frequently, something flashes by in the background window that tempts me to take a break for just a second.
I got the idea late Monday that I really ought to just hide Twitter, Facebook, and email so they don’t distract me.
I’m amazed at how this simple expedient has boosted my productivity.
You can do the same thing by simply minimizing your Twitter, email, and Facebook, or even shutting them down when not in use.
But I went a more complicated route. There’s a tool called Spaces on the Mac that lets you configure multiple screens on multiple “virtual desktops,” which you switch between by a keystroke combination.
I configured Spaces so that TweetDeck and email resided in a separate desktop from all the other software I use.
That worked for the first day, but then yesterday I realized I was still getting sucked into Twitter. I realized I was sending and receiving a lot of legitimate business email that day, stuff that required my immediate attention. And every time I read and responded to a message, I’d see Twitter right there, and jump on it.
TweetDeck is so radioactive that it needs a separate desktop all by itself. So I did that, and my productivity improved again.
I keep Facebook from distracting me by simply avoiding having a Facebook tab open in my browser. Even I don’t need to have Facebook open all the time, and I do social media professionally.
I have notifications set up on my desktop so I get an alert whenever I get a new email or an @reply to a tweet. If something urgent comes up I can jump on it right away, if its nothing urgent I just let the alert fade without interrupting my work.
I schedule breaks every three hours to check Twitter, Facebook, and email. I also check for comments on The CMO Site during that period. I use a timer to notify me when it’s time — the timer I use is Alarms.
Also, I’ve also started activating full-screen mode in Scrivener, the software I use for novel-writing, when I’m working on that. So when I’m working on the novel, I don’t see anything else on the screen.
It’s so much easier to avoid temptation when it isn’t staring you in the face, even if temptation is still just a few keystrokes away.