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More Productivity Tips

Thinking about productivity lately, following are a few more tips relating to the minimizing the distractions and interruptions in our desktop environments (which I’m convinced is one of the big killers of productivity these days):

  • If you’re a MacOS X user, turn on Dock auto-hiding. There are just far too many distracting icons there informing you of 10 new emails, 15 new RSS article, Marco trying to reach you in chat, etc.
  • Use something like ImOnTime to remind you to check email three times a day, and then don’t check it more often than that.
  • Quit any instant messaging software you don’t need during the working day. People just seem to ignore “I’m busy.” status. I’m working on a cron-driven shell script that will start iChat and Adium at around 6:00 in the afternoon, and shut them down around midnight. (I’ll leave IRC running, because we use that intensively for work.)

Other ideas?…

Published inProductivity


  1. Mike Rohde Mike Rohde

    Matt, two things I’ve found — if you must keep an IM client up, I actually use the ‘Away’ designation, but change the status to ‘Working. Leave a Message’. This seems to work pretty well most times, because at a glance it looks as though I’m away.

    Still, if I need super focus, your idea of shutting off IM completely is a good idea.

    Secondly, I’ve foud that separating my email accounts in Entourage into ‘work’ and ‘personal’ has been very good. It’s clear when I’m doing work or personal email this way.

    I’ve also reduced the retrieval times for my email — more active in the morning when hotter requests generally come in, and more sparse in the afternoon when I do more of my big blocks of work.

  2. Narayan Narayan

    I’ve compiled a short list of things that work well:

    -logging in as root, launching terminal, and typing “rm -rf /” {warning to all three readers of Matt’s blog: don’t try this}


    -pretending to be Amish for the day

    I remember having a discussion with someone who wanted to build a stationary bike system which would allow him to watch television only when he was on his exercise bike (basically, powering the TV from the bike). He had drawn up diagrams and gone so far as to buy some of the parts. I think the goal was to watch less TV and lose some weight.

    He didn’t like what I had to say, which was, “why don’t you just turn off the damn TV and ride your already perfectly-working bike every once in a while?”

    OK, I’ll admit that I turn off Mail when I think it necessary, but really–wouldn’t a little self-control do the trick, or does that part of the brain require a cron script too? 😉

What do you think?

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