5 + 1 tips for shorter procrastination

Sometimes I just cannot resist and I simply must steer off the course of work and start wasting time by reading blogs, playing games, checking eMail or twitter or even starting to do chores. If it is the last you can console yourself that chores are at least somewhat productive as they do have to be done sooner or later. For the others maybe the following tips will help.

So what do I do when my concentration wanes? Instead of resisting and continuing to think about taking a break, I give in and take one.

So here’s how to get back to work faster from your break:

  1. Reduce procrastinable blog content by reducing the number of blogs per topic: if there aren’t that many posts to read, you can actually finish reading your “stuff”. 1 per topic is ideal, in many categories I am down to 3. I have 25 blogs in my reader (I do not count personal blogs of friends, because non of them write more often than twice a month) in 10 categories.  Corollary: Limit the number of high traffic blogs. Get your friends to read the others and distill the good posts for you. It doesn’t matter if you read boingboing, neatorama or geekology: the cool things turn up on all of them.
  2. Whitelist, what gets into your email inbox: When you do want to read your private mails, all you need to do is look up 1 single folder. It takes a bit of time to set up initially but it’s worth it to never have spam in your inbox again or confuse private mail with mails from services. Close your mail program when you are finished reading so you don’t accidentally keep checking all day long.
  3. Unfollow the loud people on twitter. If you actually read the people you follow, limit yourself to less than 50 people and eliminate those who post more than X times a day. I set X to 10. Divide your twitter into topics and either create lists – again whitelisting the low-traffic private stuff – or multiple accounts (tools like tweetdeck or seesmic help).
  4. Limit the time you play games by setting yourself a timer. The time is much more enjoyable because once you officially declare a break you won’t have to fight with your conscience any longer and can actually relax into playing.
  5. Reduce random web surfing by reducing visible distractions: as nice as tabbed browsing and bookmark toolbars are they seem to invite us to click on the news link instead of the reference you wanted to look up for work. So I just hid all the procrastination stuff in folders and I close the procrastination tabs quickly, so I don’t keep checking flickr pics or reading the latest and greatest news.
  6. Bonus Tip: Take a powernap or meditate instead. Both help get you back to concentration in far less time than all those other activites combined.

When you’re done procrastinationg make yourself a cup of nice hot tea and tackle that problem that motivated you to procrastinate in the first place. Maybe by now your brain managed to find the solution while you weren’t looking.

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