Are you Zen or a distraction junkie? What you do while you are working can ruin your productivity. If you’re constantly fielding phone calls, checking Facebook and email, receiving pop-up notifications, or doing anything other than single-tasking the current project you’re working on, you’re wrecking the amount of work that you can possibly get done. Here are the strategies I used to turn 60-hour workweeks into 20-hour workweeks, a 300% boost to my productivity (and my hourly rate).
Disable Timewasters Through Your DNS
I use OpenDNS, which allows you to customize which sites your computer is allowed to reach. Setting your filter level to “high” during work hours blocks “adult-related sites, illegal activity, social networking sites, video sharing sites, and general time-wasters.” I customized the filter to include “Movies” and “Television” – no Netflix while I work – and exclude “Proxy/Anonymizer,” “Forums/Message Boards,” and “File Storage,” because these aren’t real time-wasting vices for me, and I often need to reference them while I work.
Turn Off Your Second Monitor
For most projects, you won’t need a second monitor, especially if your first is large enough. I noticed that I was doing most of my work on my primary monitor, but when I did drag stuff to my secondary monitor, I frequently had to go and hunt for it behind other windows. Disabling my second monitor allowed me to keep my workspace more organized.
Maximize Your Current Project
Fill up your workspace with what you’re currently working on, and don’t let other projects crop into that space. Hide your task-bar.
Turn Off Notifications and Instant Messaging
Don’t let your IM windows or notifications pop up while you’re working. I just close them completely so as to not risk distraction.
Unplug Your Phone
When I’m working, I turn off my phone so that calls go straight to voicemail. When I take a break, I check my voicemail and call back anyone who tried to reach me.