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  • Tools and distractions

    During the last few months, I've noticed a real change in how I set up or choose the tools that I use. I've set my browser to stop displaying the bookmarks bar. I've removed the disk icon from the desktop. I've replaced the desktop image with a solid grey-green background. I've removed all but the most used program icons from sight. If I have to write, I use WriteRoom to force myself into a Full Screen mode. I frequently turn off my computer entirely and work on paper. I bought a radio with clean analog controls.

    Thinking about it, I have set or chosen tools to be "non-distracting". As I have become more active in my career and as my time has become correspondingly more in precious, I've begun to value every uninterrupted minute of my time more than ever before, and I have been removing anything from my life that distracts me from activities that are important to me. I now don't want my tools to display anything more than they must display to be completely useful. If possible, I don't even want my tools to do anything more than I need them to do so that I don't waste time by playing with the extra features.

    The fact too is that I find that the changes have been effective and that I am far less easily distracted than I used to be when I sit down to work.

    Does anyone else here find that they make tool changes or choices based on eliminating distracting visual elements, features, etc.? If so, what changes or choices have helped you the most and why?

    David

  • #2
    Digital tools are distractions by themselves.

    Digital tools are distractions by themselves. They require continuous care and feeding. So if your life goal is not playing with gadgets all the time you should limit their use.

    I suggest no more than one PIM gadget per person to avoid the synchronization and maintenance hassles.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by TesTeq
      I suggest no more than one PIM gadget per person to avoid the synchronization and maintenance hassles.
      A nice thought. But practical?

      My experience is that there are few programs that do everything well. To find one program that just does the three main things (email, browsing and filing/outlining) and does a really good job on all three is difficult. Anything less requires "synchronization". Add in a PDA and you've got even more problems.

      I understand your point but I tend toward the old Unix program theory which states, "Do one thing and do it well". This means that at least the programs you use will work well on their own. Unfortunately this does necessitate good integration between programs, something which is truly rare. Perhaps only the MS Office suite does it effectively and even it is incomplete and certainly has its faults. The new beta of this suite looks like its going to be an improvement.

      Tom S.

      Comment


      • #4
        I want to know what is going on (internally).

        Originally posted by Tom Shannon
        I understand your point but I tend toward the old Unix program theory which states, "Do one thing and do it well".
        This is based on the assumption that this one thing is simple one "standard input" to one "standard output" function.

        It is easy to document such utilities and integrate them with other simple utilities for chain processing since you have full debugging information what exactly is going on.

        Originally posted by Tom Shannon
        Perhaps only the MS Office suite does it effectively and even it is incomplete and certainly has its faults. The new beta of this suite looks like its going to be an improvement.
        But still nobody knows what is going on internally (or maybe I'm wrong if they adopted XML format Office-wide).

        Comment


        • #5
          Definitely

          TesTeq and Tom,

          I agree on using only one PIM and limiting digital tools. I use paper based project lists with 3x5 cards for Next Action lists, a Moleskine notebook and a Moleskine Calendar/Address Book, so I actually don't use a computer based PIM at all.

          Part of what I was asking about too was the actual visual distractions that are present on most computers now. Many programs throw all sorts of menus and icons everywhere, and I find that if I am not using them at the time, I really need to remove them to help my concentration. Going in to Full Screen mode is even better. My current computer desktop is completely empty except for the OS X Finder bar, for instance. I just have a hard time imagining that I am the only one who finds having extra images, icons, etc. all over my screen a distraction. Hence the question.

          David

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TesTeq
            But still nobody knows what is going on internally (or maybe I'm wrong if they adopted XML format Office-wide).
            Not as far as I know. This isn't so important to me as there are many things about the basic workings of data storage (i.e. FAT Vs NTFS, etc...) that I don't understand. True, its nice to have things in a text file. I used to be a big proponent of this not so much because of the decreased risk of corruption (or at least the relative ease with which you can fix it) as because of the nice access to the data that you have for custom scripting. But Visual Basic and VB Script have made my data in Windows surprisingly accessible for this and I've gradually become happier.

            Tom S.

            Comment


            • #7
              To much that disturb..

              Hi.

              There is an expression that says: Less is more.

              I agree to that.

              For me it works fine with my Filofax, and nothing is like to open your binder and shift out the old year and to put in a new year. Itīs a mental cleaning, litterly, and it feels very good to start the new year putting in birthdays etc in your blank calendar.
              Sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of Earl Gray-tea, outside the snow is falling (remember itīs the beginning of january)... The feeling of the pen on new paper, ahh... peace in mind and a lot to put in my Filofax. I start to write...

              I have loose leafs to put all my NA:S on, I roughly use what David recommends.... http://www.davidco.com/store/catalog...up-p-16162.php


              In some way I think itīs funny when I read how people is trying to program Access to handle projects, or when they discuss what kind of pen other people is using.

              BUT !... I can understand those guys, īcause I have been there to. Trying to tweak the system to perfection, tweak the system to that level were the system is actually doing all my NA:s and all my projects (almost ). I found my self running round in circles, chasing my tale in the hunt for THE ULTIMATE SYSTEM.

              But, I finally came to a point there I actually went back to basic.. Cutting away all the gadgets that wonīt help itīs really a good feeling. You can concentrate on the most importent task you have in front of you, and that task is to create a system you can trust in. Itīs a system were you put your life in, so donīt overwork it... you have to do all the NA:s thatīs in your life.

              I can only say, find a system that is so easy to use, that you easly put in things.

              For me it is like, grab a pen, open my Filo, flip over to right context and ad a next action. Or open my calendar and ad an appointment.

              And if I loose my Filo??? Crise, but I wouldnīt die for it. Life would be tough and I would miss some NA:s... but I think I would manage my life back on track...


              So for me, there is only one thing... Less is More, and to much whistles and bells is - for me - only for distracting.

              Comment


              • #8
                both are a consideration

                Although I do enjoy my webshots desktop photos (set to change every ten or so minutes), I always work with three or four programs/windows open and always work with them full screen unless I need to look at two at once. I limit desktop icons to two or three and my windows toolbar icons to six, though I keep some monitoring stuff going near the clock. I love music but do not have it playing while I work. I have to sync my laptop to my secretary's machine, but I thank the Lord I was warned off getting a PDA in addition. One PIM is enough. And focus is always an issue. You have inspired me to take another look at what I can pare!

                Of course, occasionally as I shut things down or am switching to a new task, I get a refreshing moment of pleasure as I see a favorite scenic view or a captured memory as the desktop comes in view...

                Comment

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