10 ways to eliminate distractions

1. Turn off your email, IM and Twitter and phone notifications
2. Turn off the Internet. Pull the plug!
3. (If you need the internet to work) find a way to block out distractions
4. Headphones – music is a great way to fall into your own little (focussed) world
5. Create a DO NOT DISTURB sign… co-workers will soon get the hint
6. Clear workspace clutter – create your own Zen Desk, free of ’stuff’
7. Clear computer clutter – create your own Zen Desktop, free of distracting icons
8. Handle interruptions – find ways to quickly get back to the task at hand
9. Use minimal programs (without all the distracting bells-and-whistles)
10. Distraction time – allow yourself 10 minutes to unwind once every hour!

You can read the whole post over on FreelanceSwitch.com.

Well worth reading the original article too. I fall foul of quite a few of these, and need to get much better at switching off the shiny internet thing. One problem is that my todo list is on toodledo, and hence I use the internet for that and it is a small step to open up a new tab and procrastinate.

Last week I reworked my task list process, and started estimating how long items would take to do and then (roughly) tracking them. I started planning my todo list based on the time that I had in my calendar which wasn't booked out for meetings. It was quite enlightening. I try and work from home on Wednesday afternoons and so schedule a lot of my management and strategy tasks for then. When I opened toodledo on Wednesday, I discovered that I had 12 hours of tasks planned. No wonder I felt like I wasn't achieving much, I've been over-allocating myself (at times). During last week, as an experiment, I also added tasks in that I'd done which were added during the day so that I can see if these are truly urgent tasks that couldn't have waited until the next day.

On my recent appraisal, under the "What have I learnt?" section I wrote "My time management process gets refined in an ongoing manner". This is just another example of that.