As you know, I’m continually focused on getting a little better every day. I go through my ups and downs, but am generally making great progress.
I’m almost embarassed to say this, I’ve just rediscovered something, it’s my single best productivity hack and has done amazing things for me.
A little background. I’m rarely in my office, but when I am, I’ve designed a workspace to focus on maximizing my ability to focus and be productive. For example, I have an office with a beautiful view, but I’ve arranged my workspace so I look into a corner of my office with no windows. When I want to think and reflect, I have a couch near the window, I sit there.
At my workspace, even though it appears to be in disorder, there is an orderliness that makes sense to me. Everything is in its place, everything has a purpose. It just may not look like it. (Marie Kondo wouldn’t approve)
But most of my work focuses on my computer(s). Some years ago, I got into the habit of having multiple large screens on my desk. Right now, I have 2, 30+ inch screens side by side. I can arrange everything on my screens. The right most screen usually has my calendar and to-do list, along with my CRM system. The left screen is where I do my work, whether it’s email, writing, doing projects, preparing for presentation, and so forth.
Over the course of the day, I end up opening lots of windows on both screens. All the web windows have multiple tabs.
When I travel, it’s not much different, except I’m limited to the 13 + inch screen on my laptop. I have a clever piece of software that enables me to open some screens on my Ipad, so I have the poor man’s version of two screens.
Inevitably, I end up switching between screens, apps, windows on either system.
And all those open windows want to make sure that I don’t forget about them, so acorss the top bar they constantly try to capture my attention. Even though I try to stay focused, Gmail or Outlook may be blinking at me, showing a rising new mail count. LinkedIn and Twitter, also don’t want me to forget them, I see rising notification numbers. Each window and each application I have open doesn’t want me to forget, “Dave, I’m over here, there’s some cool new stuff you have to look at……”
Even though I try to ignore them, they manage to catch my eye. I resist as long as I can, but inevitably get sucked in and diverted.
I also run everything on Windows (even on my Mac’s). So the bottom bar on Windows is always showing me all the apps I have open. My eyes can’t help but being distracted by those.
As disciplined as I am, all these apps, web sites, and windows keep trying to pull me from what I need to do right now.
But then I had an “Aha” moment. What if I completely closed everything except the single app or window that I’m working on. For example, right now, I only have the word press window open in my browser. There’s nothing else. No flashing messages from LinkedIn or Gmail. No word document in another window, just a single window and a single task, complete this post.
Yes, I do open other windows, but only when I need it for the task I’m focused on. For example, I will need an image to put on this post, so I’ll do a quick search, find an image, then close that window. Or when I am calling someone, I always have their LinkedIn profile on one screen and their company website on another.
Yeah, you all have probably figured this out a long time ago, but it’s game changing in terms of eliminating distraction and improving my productivity.
As much as I appreciated both Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates for creating the concepts of windows and enabling us to have lots of things going on at a time. It seems, I let it get out of control and got sucked into keeping as many windows open as possible.
Now I’m down to 1 at a time, sometimes 2.
Anyone want to buy a 30+ inch screen?