I am easily distracted.
It’s true. And just between you and me, the Internet is not helping.
Look at Twitter, overflowing with real-time data streams full of people who are way more interesting than me, doing all kinds of fabulous things at the rate of one every three seconds.
Underneath all of it is the Web itself, pages and pages of interesting stuff which is fundamentally NOT WORK. As Paul Graham says, it’s like somebody snuck a TV onto my desk when I wasn’t looking.
So, in an effort to trick myself into completing tasks, and avoiding a spacewalk off into the unrelated, I decided to browse websites on how to become productive. (This is, in itself, unproductive, I know, but one has to start somewhere)
In my travels, I came across this inspired productivity hack from 43 Folders: 10 + 2. It’s based on the notion that you can do 10 minutes of anything. Just 10 minutes. You can do that, right?
The way it works is that you start yourself a timer, do those 10 minutes of, you know, your job, and then you can take a 2 minute break to do anything you want. Catch up with the tweetstream. Read your RSS. Heaven forbid, you could even go outside, or stretch. Then after those 2 minutes, you return to the task at hand, or if you like, pick another task that you’ve been avoiding and do that for 10 minutes.
Here’s where all those numbers add up — if you follow this method for an hour, you’ll have done 50 minutes of productive work, and spent 10 minutes being distracted. If you’re like me, you’ll find that this compares pretty favourably with an hour spent without the timer.
I couldn’t find a good Windows timer to help with this hack, so I made one for us – you can download it here. It’s a no-frills Windows only timer, that counts to 10 minutes, plays a dinky sound, then counts to 2 minutes, and then starts again. It’s pretty light on features, but if you find you need it to do something extra, let me know — I might be able to update it.
If I’m not too busy completing all my productive work this year, of course.