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How do you maintain concentration when working?
10 minutes at a time seems to be my max at the moment
Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 1:44 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

My mind is all over the place recently - it's everywhere but where it should be - on the job at hand.

The work, admittedly, is not particularly exciting, but even taking that into account I'm surprised at how short my concentration span has become.

I'm working from home, alone, and more times than I care to admit I find myself clicking away from the work and onto the BBC news, or here, or Facebook, or anywhere. It's really becoming quite annoying, and not doing my deadlines much good either.

Anyone else experience this? Is it a phase, maybe just associated with the specific tasks currently being worked on? Can anything be done about it, can concentration be improved? Or, now that it's started, is my mind destined to wander aimlessly for all eternity?

 

piatkow

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Msg#: 4113855 posted 2:34 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I can only work from home effectively if I am doing something that is really grabbing my interest. Otherwise I am much the same. In an office environment I at least have a sense of embarassment about surfing the web in work time.

J_RaD

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 3:11 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes im all over the place as well sometimes.

Its going to take some dedication to break the habit, make a checklist of sorts for everything you have to do each day and just do that and only that...after a while it will stick. Everytime i catch myself i think...hm I must not have enough work to do, let me fix that!

mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 3:56 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

One idea I tried for a while was creating a different user login for work. From there I limited access to things that would be classed as distractions.

Mack.

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 4:32 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it has a lot to do with the coming of spring.

Mack, I like that idea of separate logins.

tigger

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tigger us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 4:36 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

My mind is all over the place recently - it's everywhere but where it should be - on the job at hand.


I tend to find looking at my bank balance soon gets me focussed - normally I'll work for couple of hours before drifting away and checking out a industry forum or two - then back to work

henry0

WebmasterWorld Senior Member henry0 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 4:40 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

In that case I don't fight it, pause, and go to the driving range hitting some golf balls.

Or prepare a cup of green tea or something...

The idea is to reset your mind on something else, then it's easy to refocus on the primary stuffs

remember, no fight, let it be and comeback with a vengeance :)

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 4:58 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

It sounds to me like there's some part of the job that you really don't want to do so you're putting it off. My advice would be to crack on and get through the yucky stuff and then you'll be able to concentrate much better on everything else.

Kaled.

jecasc

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 8:43 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm working from home, alone, and more times than I care to admit I find myself clicking away from the work and onto the BBC news, or here, or Facebook, or anywhere.


I'm not working at home but at the office but the same keeps happening to me. It happens for example when there is some idle time when the computer is doing something - for example I have to wait for the accounting software to import the bank account statements and the bank sever is slow - so I check the news in the meantime and before I know it half an hour is gone. Or if I search the net to solve a problem - get some information about a mysql statement or whatever I stumble upon an interesting article and another one and time flys by. I have been fighting this for years know and the fight still goes on... Things I found useful to save time:

- I blocked the most distracting websites in my router
- I don't let the email software run in the background but answer my emails only three times a day.
- I installed a time tracking tool that automatically tracks the time I spend in software applications and on websites. So I can identify the time wasters.
- If I do boring routine tasks, like importing and exporting stuff from different software applications where there is a lot of idle time, I listen to music, so I do not get bored when I have to wait 30 seconds and drift off into the internet
- I installed an egg timer software. If I need a break and surf the net I set it to five minutes and then the alarm goes off and I get back to work.
- Before I start working in the morning I write down the tasks I want to accomplish this day and make breaks only after I have achieved a certain task.

mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 11:49 pm on Apr 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

simple todo lists might help. do it, cross it off then do the next thing. part of the problem might be not knowing where your time would be best spent. if I didn't use todo lists I would spend half my day here..ahh wait lol

Mack.

tangor

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Msg#: 4113855 posted 12:12 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Drink beer. :)

I do the "ugly parts" first... the heavy lifting part. Then work on the content, eye candy, and fun stuff. How to get it done? What works for one may not work for another. For me it is "need" as in I need to pay this bill, buy this food, etc.

Focusing is different for each of us. How to get out of it is simple: make the decision and have discipline. Easier said than done, of course!

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 4:25 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

simple todo lists might help. do it, cross it off then do the next thing.

I've tried those, but I always get so distracted while I'm trying to think of all the stuff I need to write down my mind starts to wander and I'm usually farther behind than if I would have left the list alone and just posted here from the start. LOL.

Actually, I've started 'moving the office' around so I'm not always trying to work from home... The local coffee shop is actually a good spot for me to get work done personally. For some reason I find when there's noise and distractions around I'm much less easily distracted, as contradictory as that may seem.

Posting here really helps me out too, especially when I get to a 'frustrating point' of code or something. I usually post about something totally unrelated and stay away from the topic of whatever I was working on to help clear my mind and take a break for a few minutes, then I'm better and can focus on whatever it is I'm trying to get done again.

An example of how posting helps me out a bit is I haven't posted in the PHP forum much for quite a while, because when I post here it's a bit of 'me time' away from what I've been working on, and I've been coding quite a bit lately, so this is my '5 to 10 minute break' I hope you've all enjoyed it... Back to the grind.

caribguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 4:40 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Do the heavy lifting first - that does work. Once you get the day's ugly work done, you'll be in a better mood. Do whatever pays the bills, and then roam around.

I try, but am unable to do this every single day. Still, I always try to remember that my ability to goof off on WebmasterWorld depends on the number of times I can let the accounting software go tweet-tweet.

idolw

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 6:06 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

limiting work hours helps a lot. instead of staring at the monitor all day long set a maximum of 4-6-8 hours a day and make sure you do not make it any longer. soon you'll find out there's not really much time for lots of things ;)

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 6:19 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Kiddies... I work as long as I need to work to accomplish Step One. I take a break after that then tackle Step Two... and so forth.

A lot of what we do is not "creation", it is mechanics. Once one gets past that ego hurdle it simply becomes "work". There is no glory, or fabulous murals on Byzantine marble walls, or silk cocoons near a keyboard near you...

Work is work. Goofing off is just that. It is knowing how much goofing off between work stages is appropriate that makes one productive.

vivalasvegas

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 7:33 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

limiting work hours helps a lot. instead of staring at the monitor all day long set a maximum of 4-6-8 hours a day and make sure you do not make it any longer. soon you'll find out there's not really much time for lots of things ;)


This and the to do list have helped me too. I used to sit at the computer all day long effectively working only 3-4 hours/day because otherwise I would feel guilty for not working hard enough. Recently I realized how much time I was losing pretending I was working. Now I try to stay focused and not care about how many hours I put in every day. If I get the job done by noon I just take the rest of the day off. Making good money doesn't necessarily mean working 10 hours a day.

jecasc

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 8:10 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I used to sit at the computer all day long effectively working only 3-4 hours/day because otherwise I would feel guilty for not working hard enough.


And I thought I was the only one. Problem with me is: I am not working alone but have employees. If I work effectivly I can get my work done in 3-4 hours but usually I drag it out to 8 hours because I would feel kind of guilty leaving at noon. On the other hand I know I am wasting vast parts of my life this way. My parents and a lot of relatives where self employed too and so I was brought up with the notion of: "Be the first in the morning and the last to leave in the evening."

Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 10:38 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some interesting comments and observations - thanks.

I'm also guilty of sitting in front of this screen all day and sometimes achieving very little work. That needs to stop. I think that discipline - and structure - in this are crucial, and that's what I've lost somewhere down the line. The challenge is to find ways to reintroduce or reinvent them.

Setting daily goals might be a way for me: lay out at the start of the day what I expect to have achieved by the end of it.

As kaled observed, mentally trying to avoid the work is possibly what's at the heart of it. But, I can't put these specific things off indefinitely. There are deadlines to meet and all I'm doing is creating a backlog of stuff that needs doing in a dramatically decreasing time frame.

Onwards and upwards... :-)

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 6:43 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

usually I drag it out to 8 hours because I would feel kind of guilty leaving at noon.


Consider starting a new project that you could work on in the "gap times" rather than just dragging out the existing work to fill the day.

eelixduppy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member eelixduppy us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 7:55 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Put on some chill music, make sure you're comfortable, and get at it. Might be slow going at first, but you'll pick up the speed.

In extreme cases I put a made-up proxy into my browser settings so I cannot surf the internet without being reminded I have other things I should be doing. =]

When it comes to writing something, I cannot write it on my computer without quickly losing interest. So I take out a pen and pad, and go into a quiet room as far away from distractions as possible.

jake66

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 8:51 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Often times I simply have to stop working and do something else in order to regain concentration. Once my mind begins to wander, it's all over..

artek

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 10:21 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

In extreme cases I put a made-up proxy into my browser settings so I cannot surf the internet without being reminded I have other things I should be doing. =]

Boy I like this one! eelixduppy you should get Nobel price for saving productivity world wide.

This is what works like a charm for me:

- No sensory overload, everybody out, no multitasking, no background noise including radio or tv,

- When my concentration goes down I take short nap any time to give my brain rest.

- And most important for me: I eat small amount of home prepared food every three - four hours to maintain normal blood sugar levels(one of the causes of sleepiness or lack of concentration). Especially homemade sandwiches full of proteins (eggs, ham, hard cheese, cold beef, fried fish, etc.) plus small mixed salad for lunch that include cooked or pickled legumes and root vegetables. That solved my up and down blood sugar levels, plus my weight went down.

- I also made a point to avoid the carbs: junk food snacks including soft drinks. One or two apples or pears every day will supply complex sugars that feed your brain.

- One correction I do not consider junk food my two large cups of coffee a day, each with teaspoon of brown sugar and creamy real milk.

claus

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 11:20 pm on Apr 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Anyone else experience this?


That sounds perfectly normal to me. Apart form the possible detrimental effect on your income I would not even call it a problem.

Fact is, when you are self employed, or otherwise work for yourself, motivation is key. If what you do does not really interest you, you will lose focus automatically. That is all healthy and good.

To solve this problem, you should not work on your motivation for solving boring tasks. That leads only to burnout.

In stead you should work on attracting more interesting tasks.

caribguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 12:46 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

In stead you should work on attracting more interesting tasks.

Even when working on a really interesting project, some tasks will be boring, mindnumbing or repetitive... They still have to be done.

Have you tried breaking the routine? i.e. working at a different place or time than usual?

i.e. when I have to read a RFP, contract or other long and boring document I'll print it our and take it with me to the beach. My productivity also increases dramatically at night: when it's dark outside, no phone calls, no noise from outside. Fresh pot of coffee, dim lights, soft jazz music, and the airco softly buzzing....

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 5:07 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I still vote for beer. :)

Seriously, when working on new projects, and if the project allows, I reuse established heavy lift code as much as possible unless the contract calls for all original "work for hire" to pass on client owned copyright. Those projects I don't like as much as they are more difficult. Meanwhile, get the hard, boring, straight-laced component parts done first (need to do that anyway to make sure usability and scale are there) then do the eye candy.

And sometimes it's beer and a movie. Or a bike ride (sans beer, not recommended!) to clear the brain... just find a good bike trail with attractive scenery... and you know what kind of scenery that is... Whoo Whoo! That will certainly get your mind off code for a bit. :)

Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 8:04 am on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

...attracting more interesting tasks.


Caribguy hits the nail on the head. The project is very interesting. I always have much enthusiasm for it. But for some reason this particular aspect has me trying everything I can to stall and avoid ploughing through it.

I have tight deadlines to meet - a fixed schedule. That schedule requires me to have this work done very quickly done now, but I'm still a long way off completion.

In fact, what the hell am I doing on here this morning? That schedule is thundering towards me like a runaway steamroller. Look out!

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4113855 posted 6:29 pm on Apr 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I still vote for beer. :)

I used to be right there with you, then I started turning into a ball of mush and switched to alternatives...

One of them is fantastic natural supplement that improves focus, short-term memory and brain function (found it on accident, it's 'sports related' but helps with other stuff as well, and there's only one place I've found to buy it, so no it's not something you've seen on the label of the little bottle at the convenience store or would run into at your local health food store).

The other is some high quality green tea that's easier to find, but the high quality 'powered' stuff (not bags) is expensive, and I've only found one kind I really like...

Why's all the good stuff always gotta be so spendy and hard to find? Grrrrr...

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