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One of my biggest struggles in recent months has been productivity and procrastination. Seriously, I have wasted a lot of time! So lately I decided to take matters into my own hands and take control of my time. Here’s are some of the apps and systems I’m using to help…
1) Time Tracking
There are a number of time tracking tools available to download that’ll show you how you spend your time. The specific software I use is called RescueTime – there’s a free version and a paid version. It categorises different activities as productive, neutral or distracting. For example, if I’m watching videos on YouTube or browsing Facebook, RescueTime knows I’m wasting time! If I’m using Microsoft Word or working on my blog (which I chose to set as productive), it will give me an increased productivity score.
To be honest I’d been avoiding checking this much as I should because I was scared to see the results (every day you get a “productivity score”). However, I’ve decided to take control and use it to my advantage by staying on top of my productivity reports. I’ve also set a reminder every day on my phone to set RescueTime to “focused mode” – this is a paid feature but it’s so worth the money. It blocks out any websites labeled as “distraction”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mindlessly gone to visit Facebook and then been blocked from doing it. It’s a great help!
2) Tracking My Phone Usage
RescueTime helps prevent me from wasting time on my computer, but this doesn’t stop me doing the same thing on my iPhone. So I decided to install a free tracking app called “Moment“. This basically tracks how long you use your phone for each day (it’s quite scary!), and if you upgrade to the paid version you can set a daily time limit after which you’ll be reminded to get off the phone.
3) Setting Up My Browsers for Maximum Productivity
The next idea is something I heard from Lynn Terry (one of my favourite online marketers!). Basically, since I am now working on 2 different sides of my business, I can set up one browser for one site – like the PLR store and this blog – and another browser for my new “hobby” blog. It means I’m logged into all the right social media and email accounts for each one, depending on which browser I use. It also just focuses me to work one one or the other, without flitting between both.
In her post, Lynn also talks about having too many tabs open at once. I too am guilty of this, very guilty! However, I’ve started to be more mindful of my tabs now. I ask myself “do I really need to read this later?” Often the answer is no and I simply close the tab without guilt. If I do think I need to read it later, I will save the links in an Evernote note, where I group together multiple links on similar topics. That way, if I need it in future I can just search Evernote for that topic. Trust me, it helps so much when your browser is clear!
4) Planning Ahead
This tip isn’t exactly a direct way to minimize distractions and stay focused, but it does indirectly focus me a lot more! I have found that by really planning ahead – sometimes I might just do a week at a time, other times I plan further – it keeps me focused from the very beginning of the day. If I start the day without a plan for what I need to do, chances are I’ll waste time figuring it out and put things off until tomorrow. With a solid plan that’s a lot harder to do.
When planning ahead, it helps to have a really solid calendar system in place. In the past I’ve had calendars on Google, Basecamp and my iPhone (plus some events and birthdays on Facebook!). Finally I found a solution to bring all of those together: Sunrise. Check it out, I highly recommend it!
5) Changing My Scenery
If all else fails, sometimes I find I just need a change of scenery! Sometimes it’s something as simple as lighting a candle in the room, or moving from my desk to work on the dining table. Other times I might leave my computer altogether and clear my head by going for a walk. The only problem with this is that I forget to try these simple things, so I have to make it more of a habit.
I’d love to hear from you… what do you do to minimize distractions? Any handy apps or habits? Let me know in the comments!