Jason's Blog

A stochastic thought repository

Cutting Out Distractions

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This week I’ve spent something on the order of four hours in Les Schwab getting our two cars’ studded winter tires changed out. The deadline for removing them before the police can start fining you is at the end of the month, thus explaining the wait.

To pass the time, I was a good student and worked on some homework that I didn’t need my computer for. From this I discovered, to my dismay, that I am much more productive when not seated in from of a computer screen. The internet can be very distracting, with Google Reader, twitter and email constantly updating.

There was a time, in high school and the through the end of undergrad, when I was very driven and focused; I was able to sit for hours pushing through homework. Now it seems that I take breaks at perhaps half hour intervals, which last probably longer than they should.

I need to find myself a method of cutting out some of the distractions that I face. I have the following ideas:

  1. Turn off the computer.
    • Pros: Eliminates distractions.
    • Cons: Sometimes I need to look up math references online, and I like to listen to music/news online.
  2. Just turn off the monitor.
    • Pros: Harder for distractions to capture my attention. Able to quickly look of references. Able to listen to music/news.
    • Cons: Distractions are still present, though less apparent.
  3. Work more at school, less at home.
    • Pros: It can be an environment more conducive to working…
    • Cons: …but frequently isn’t. So overall, not much different. Also, the dogs would be kenneled for longer periods.

I’m leaning toward shutting off the monitor and seeing how that works. Perhaps I can regain some of my productivity.

With all the distraction the computer brings, I’m curious how people that code for a living keep their focus. I hear that often, one has an IDE open, perhaps a web browser for documentation, and assorted shells, file manager windows, etc. I’m sure it becomes an issue there as well.