As a web designer, you are still prone to the one ailment plaguing a large percentage of the world’s workforce: inadequate productivity. We all get the same amount of time to work on a daily basis but somehow, some people achieve more by the end of a given day than others in the same field. Whilst there are many possible reasons for this, we are going to focus on distractions that eat deep into the time and how to fight them.
When discussing productivity, you need to understand that it is your capacity to stay focused on the task at hand that usually determines what you achieve within the specific time period. To fully maximise productivity during your work hours therefore, you need to consciously put methods in place that will help you stay focused.
Here are some of the ways you can achieve this:
Put away your smartphone
For a designer, a smartphone is highly valuable. However, the whistles and bells they come with these days and the even more whistles and bells that can be added by the user means it most definitely means distractions. The sheer number of notifications, emails, texts and calls can truncate the focus of a Buddhist monk in meditation (OK maybe not but yea). While these notifications could be important for your work (think client updates, new project offers etc.), they are often useless for the vast majority of the time. Do you really need that notification to continue a game or continue a language lesson during your work hours? Turn off your smartphone where possible and if where impossible, silence it.
Delete unnecessary apps and software
As you are reading this, you know apps that have the tendency to steal your attention before we have even mentioned anything. Go ahead and delete them. Having certain apps at your fingertips is usually the cue to procrastinate. A rule of the thumb is to delete apps that do not improve your web design career in any way and any other apps that have a history of distracting you. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. can provided inspiration for your design sometimes but if they distract you more than they help, delete them. Does that mean you shouldn’t have any such apps? No. The bottom line is to ensure they are far away from you when focus and productivity are important. A good tip is to rid your smartphone of them and leave on your tablet (easier to leave at home or far away from your work desk).
Cut down on the amount of time spent on certain portals online
The internet is beautiful. You could actually spend a whole day on it without noticing the clock winding down. All it takes is one peek at an otherwise useful community like Reddit for example and you could lose valuable minutes.
Don’t know what websites are stealing your time online? You can use Rescue Time. If you are looking to completely block off access to these sites for a specified period of time, the following apps can help you.
SelfControl – For blocking access to selected sites on Mac
Cold Turkey – For blocking apps and software for a specified period of time
Stayfocusd – One of the main apps for blocking off distractive sites on Chrome
Leechblock – Works on Firefox
Anti-social – It works like the rest but makes sure you can’t turn off the restrictions once you have set the time.
Get off the internet
In some cases, you really don’t need to be online in order to complete the task you are working on so why not turn off internet access? This is as simple as unplugging the cable or turning off your modem. If your discipline isn’t quite up there however, you should consider using a solution that will not allow just plugging in the cable or turning the modem back on anytime you wish. Freedom is one of such solutions. You can’t get back online if you turn off internet with Freedom unless you reboot your computer! For most people, rebooting the computer is a nightmare which is why Freedom is effective.
Ensure a clean and organised workspace
When you have a cluttered workspace, you will have to deal with the constant urge to stop what you are doing and clean up the distractions before your eyes. This is why you should ensure that your workspace is always organised or at least devoid of messy distractions.
Use email and social media filters
“It is easy to get distracted by the noise on your computer screens” says Brendan Wilde, marketing manager at Umbrellar Cloud Hosting. “The best way to avoid such distractions for me, is to ensure that only valuable emails and not promotional emails or spam can get to me over the work day by using the appropriate technology”.
Using the filter options that come with your email client may be enough in some cases but there are many occasions when they just don’t work.
This equally goes for social media. Use lists and categories where possible to partition your audience so you know where to look when searching for specific types of content without being distracted. This is most effective on Twitter where your search for industry related content can be truncated by tweets from a comedian or a normal user sharing their day’s experiences.
Have a schedule for distractions
Of course it would be impossible to completely blank out distractions. You need them to stay sane anyway. The key is having control over them and ensuring that productivity isn’t being affected in any way or form. One way to ensure control is to make out time to indulge in distractions. For instance, you can set two periods for checking and responding to emails or decide to take a 10 minute break every two hours where the 10 minutes can be spent on watching funny vines or catching up on current events around the globe.
Distractions can work to your advantage and help refresh your creative juices if you have a lid on them.