Find focus by building your digital Zen-Zone.

Apr 30

After our home renovations I found myself forced to move my office to the attic of our house. It was time to tear down the carefully constructed nexus my digital lifestyle up one level. But it was also time to think things over on how I wanted stuff to be set up. Where my old desk was arranged in a C-shape, surrounding me with multiple monitors and computers, all available with a smooth swivel of my chair .. my new office was a “one line setup”, stretching out the entire length of the workspace in a single row. This meant it would be impossible to use the setup with just “one chair”, in essence creating more then one workspace. What now ?

“Comfort zone”.

I decided to do things differently this time. My multi-monitor-multi-media workstation with its 2 massive 24 inch displays, its mixers, its speakers and all the other gadgets would be sprawled onto one “desk” and .. I would leave the other desk completely empty. Instead of packing it with screens and keyboards, a little lamp, a wireless mouse and a collection of power and network cables was al that was visible on the workspace. This “second desk” is the one I want to use when the countless windows and digital clutter are getting out of hand. I just pop down here with whatever laptop I’m using (My Mac, My Linux machine, My work laptop) to get things done. I just sit down, hook up and focus on what I’m doing. Distractions are few because .. its just a cosy little corner .. opposed to a Nasa style multi-display supercluster.

“Zen Zone”

But just a “different spot” is not enough. One might still be bombarded by digital distractions like eMail, Social media and so forth. So I created a different user profile on my laptop (s) that I call the “Zen Zone” A profile that does not have IM or eMail clients configured. Just the bare minimum will suffice. Access to a browser, word processing apps, whatever I need to get stuff done .. but ONLY that. If I really wanted to I could remove the admin rights to this profile, change the proxy settings and make sure that my “Zen Zone” would be unable to access the internet unless I reboot. It might be tricky to do so when you work in the cloud a lot, but when you need to “get down and dirty” with something you need to get done .. this might help you with your self discipline. You need to “log out” and “log back in” to a different user if you want to go online. This will surely help in controlling your impulses to “quickly browse the web”.”

“Zen-ware”

Especially when it comes down to writing or being creative, having as few distractions as possible does help a lot. There are a number of applications that help you do this. Taking away all the bings bongs and chimes from the busy desktop interface and just giving you a plain interface.  Ommwriter ( Windows, Mac, Ios) or Focuswriter (Linux and Windows) are great ways to find a tranquil slate of screen to do your thing. Finding an online pomodoro timer might also help you keep your Cyber-ADD in check by giving you a focus-countdown timer with rewards when you completed a task.

In the end it comes down to a little self discipline and letting technology work for you instead of getting in your way .. to get stuff done. So : What are YOUR tips and tricks to stay focused and not goof off all the time ? Tell us in the comments section.

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