Being Productive or, How to not Suck at Your Job

During my research for a luxury jeweller I came across the world of haute horlogerie ( ie: fancy, luxury watches). I was amazed at the precision, craftsmanship and focus involved in creating these beautiful timepieces. Some of the methods haven't changed for over 200 years and a lot of the work is still done by hand. The patience and attention to detail is also astounding; some of the pieces used to make these watches measure no thicker than a strand of hair. I can hardly assemble my Malm nightstand. Needless to say, this impresses me.

I then started to compare this level of concentration to my own process. I know I'm not alone in the fact that my attention is split many times over throughout the day and it can be hard to focus. Some days I feel as though I need blinders on to get anything done. Even still, while I'm working I am pulled farther down the rabbit hole by the internet under the guise of "research". How can I attain the type of focus that can build luxury goods with microscopic parts? (Or, at worst, just do my job efficiently?)

There are the obvious things one can do to aid concentration: clearing your work area, wearing noise canceling headphones, isolating yourself from coworkers, but what if those just don't work (pun intended)? Ironically enough I turn to the wisdom of the very thing that distracts me. The internet.

I recently download a program called SelfControl that helps to curb internet wandering; it's a genius open source OS X application which blocks access to sites for a predetermined amount of time and nothing you do (not even shutting off your computer) will let you back onto those sites before the timer runs out.

If I use SelfControl in intervals of 30mins I can implement another time management method I recently learned about called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is all about focusing for a manageable amount of time (25-30mins) followed by a short break. If I know I only have to focus for half an hour then I'm more likely to make it to the end without breaking concentration, and I'm more likely to finish things without slacking because I've become very aware of time passing by.

I finally get down to working but there are still some bits in my peripheral vision that I find distracting. Google and you shall receive. The internet has given us yet another gem in this perfect little utility called Backdrop that fills the background of your computer with a solid colour so you can focus all of your attention on your current task. This works especially well when you turn on the auto-hide for your dock. The result is a clean, minimal working space....ahh, like a breath of fresh air, right?

After implementing these ideas I feel less distracted and more productive. I am finally able to find the focus needed to solve any creative problem. Yes! Now, where did I put my sketchbook?