Mark Terry

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

30 Minutes

September 28, 2010
I'm a victim of the Internet. I finally realized that my productivity had gotten flushed right down the toilet by all my Facebook checks, blog reading, RSS feeds, YouTube videos and random surfing. I had Internet-induced ADD. And if that sounds like a joke, I have to say, it probably really isn't. I was still getting things done, but I was interrupting myself about every 5 minutes or less. It was ridiculous. I'm glad I despise Twitter, because it would only have been worse.

So now I set a timer for 30 minutes. In that 30 minutes I work and I'll respond to email, but aside from that, that's it. After 30 minutes, I can spend a few minutes (sometimes I time it) puttering around, but more often than not I'm deeply into whatever I'm doing and I just reset for another 30 minutes.

I don't think I'm alone.

And it reminds me that when I was in college--pre-Web days--and I started writing fiction, I was so busy with work and classes that I gave myself 30 minutes to write and I learned to really crank out things in that period of time, then off to study. I got the 30 minute figure from my early days as a piano and saxophone student.

I plan to extend my 30 minute zones to 45, then 60 minutes.

It bothers me that I have to, but I do.

How about you? What are your concentration and time management strategies?


Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Hah! Yeah. This is my technique. I have three timers I love. There's Pomodairo, which is a timer that even has a little to-do list that allows you to plan your day. You can check how long your break's been, but it doesn't buzz you when your break should be over.

Focus Booster does. Instant Boss looks the less appealing, but it makes funny sounds. It rejoices when your work cycle is over, and when your break is over, it says, "Aw man!" It cracks me up. (It's the little things in life.)

25 minutes seems to be my ideal. 50 minutes is doable. Everyone has their own optimum cycle length.

(Can you tell I absolutely rely on these tools to get things done?)

9:34 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

It's absolutely maddening to me that it's necessary, but apparently it is. I would point out, too, that I had lunch with a friend of mine who runs his own company, maybe 5 or 6 employees, and he's often hiring straight out of college and he finds social media to be a real trap for his employees, especially the younger ones, or as he says it, "Will the last productive American please turn out the lights."

I'm not sure it's that age-oriented, but based on the number of people who spend all day on FB and tweeting, you've got to wonder how much work's getting done. As I pointed out, even if you check FB 5 minutes each other, that's 40 minutes out of the workday.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I haven't considered this problem in such depth as you have but, yes, it is a problem for me. However, the "beauty" of dial-up is that I can turn the line over to Mary and then I'm not distracted by any of the available online temptations! So I guess you'll rush out and change to dial-up....

12:31 PM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

You don't have to spend your breaks on Facebook. :-) Taking breaks, however you prefer them, is good, though. All the studies, even the ones pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter, have found that those who take breaks every hour are more productive than those who don't. And studies show that when you're doing creative work, breaks are even more beneficial. (If you just sit there, you're more likely to keep thinking the same option. If you are interrupted and are forced to think about something else, then when you get back to your project, you're more likely to have another idea and/or consider another option.)

I've had ADD since 1st grade, but with the asthma, it got considerably worse quickly. So I've researched the crap out of this stuff, LOL.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Jeff Baerveldt said...

First: I use an app called Freedom. It takes me off line for up to eight hours. I usually set it for 150 minutes, which is my writing time. When there's no option, there's no temptation. But I don't get a lot of urgent emails, so this option works for me.

Second: I don't get on the Internet at all on Fridays. I don't even use Freedom on Fridays. It's all will power. I've been doing this for a few months now, and what I've found is that I need Freedom less and less.

That's it for me -- and they work well.

8:55 PM  

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