Dealing with Distractions5:31 with Paul Boag
Distractions come in many forms. Paul provides some tips for dealing with clients, meetings, and communication.
If you want to get stuff done, if you want to work less hours and earn more money, 0:00 you need to deal with the distractions that surround you everyday. 0:04 The starting point for that is being aware of what they are, 0:09 and boy are there a lot of them in the world of a web designer. 0:12 There is instant messaging, there's Twitter, Facebook, RSS, web browsing, 0:17 email, phone calls. The whole environment can be distracting if it's not designed right. 0:23 You need to take some active steps to remove those distractions. 0:29 Otherwise you're going to find yourself working at midnight every night. 0:33 Now if you're a night owl that might be perfectly fine, 0:37 but you don't want to be working from 6 in the morning too. 0:40 First thing you need to do is get rid of Twitter and Facebook. 0:44 Don't have them constantly open. 0:47 I know this is a stupid little thing, 0:50 but it makes a huge difference to the amount of time you work. 0:52 I'll let you in on a secret. Most days I only work about 6-½ hours. 0:56 Reason? Closing Facebook and Twitter. 1:00 Well at least some of the time anyway. 1:04 Keep your faffing activities to a minimum. 1:07 I don't even know if faffing is an American word you can understand, 1:09 but I'm talking about things like RSS, web browsing, all of those things that you do 1:13 as a distraction from what you should actually be doing. 1:18 One of the ways of doing that is to isolate those activities 1:23 away from your work environment. 1:26 So in other words, do your web browsing and your RSS feeds 1:29 and your social networks and that kind of stuff— 1:32 do it on your iPhone or your iPad, not on your work machine. 1:34 Get them out of sight while you're trying to get stuff done. 1:37 Another piece of advice when it comes to getting work done 1:43 is never try and multitask. It just doesn't work. 1:46 We don't, as human beings, have the capability to multitask. 1:51 Yes we can switch very fast from one task to another, 1:56 but that's not the same. 1:59 Moving from task to task will ultimately slow you down. 2:01 If you're somebody that struggles to concentrate for a long length of time 2:05 like myself—I consider me to have the attention span of a small child— 2:09 but the way I get round this problem is by working in sprints. 2:15 There's something called the Pomodoro Technique which is really simple. 2:19 You work for 25 minutes, you have a 5-minute rest, 2:23 and then you work for another 25 minutes. 2:26 So you have 25 minutes solid on one task before moving to another. 2:29 So it means that you can get significant work done. 2:34 Talking of distractions, turn off those automatic notifications. 2:39 I calculated, for example, that with the average email client like Outlook, 2:43 on its default settings you will get interrupted 31,680 times per year 2:48 by that little ping notification of a new email coming in. 2:55 Now that is a huge amount of interruptions, 3:01 and let's be honest, every time it pings we have to go and look 3:04 even though 90% of the time it's just spam and doesn't matter anyway. 3:08 So turn off those notifications. 3:13 You don't need to spend your whole life in your email client. 3:15 Only answer the phone or check email or even IM at set times within the day. 3:19 That's why the sprints work quite well because you can have 3:26 certain sprints at certain times of the day for making phone calls or answering email 3:29 or using IM. 3:34 Now you might be getting a bit twitchy at this point. 3:36 The thing is is closing email, not answering the phone, and not having IM on 3:40 is very alien to us as web designers. 3:47 We're used to being connected all the time, 3:51 and most of us can't comprehend a world where we're not constantly checking email. 3:53 What if a client has an urgent inquiry? 3:58 What if they need me to do something right now? 4:01 I can understand that and that fear of being out of touch, 4:04 but the reality is is 90% of the communications that come in 4:08 are not time-sensitive. 4:13 So all of those interruptions disrupt you from the work you should be doing, 4:15 but for those 10% of communications that are urgent, 4:21 I'd encourage you to look at various tools out there that help you manage it. 4:26 For example, there is a tool called awayfind.com 4:30 which basically allows you to identify certain emails that you know are urgent 4:34 from a certain person or mentioning a certain keyword, 4:39 and they will then forward those on as a notification to your phone. 4:42 That way you don't need to have your email client open the whole time, 4:46 and you will only be interrupted with the most vital of emails. 4:50 There are also virtual services that will answer the telephone for you. 4:55 For example, in the U.K. there is a service called moneypenny, 5:00 but there are equal other services in various other countries 5:03 that provide the same service. 5:06 What you do is you forward your phone number onto this, 5:08 and a real person will answer the phone, take a message, 5:11 and will contact you if it's urgent. 5:14 So there are ways where you can close down those distractions, 5:17 where you can close down email and the things that interrupt you 5:21 allowing you to get big chunks of work done without alienating clients 5:24 and without getting all twitchy. 5:28
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