You’ve decided to start a business, get fit, learn a new language – or some other goal that requires dedication and work.
You sit down by your computer to get started, but after a while, almost subconsciously, you open up a new tab and type in Facebook, or a news site, a forum or youtube.
45 minutes later you realize that you’ve wasted a lot of time on nothing, and now you have to go grocery shopping, pick up the kids or do some other task.
Sound familiar? Or, you don’t even get as far as to sit down by the computer, because there is always something else you need to do.
Having progress towards your goal requires good habits
Our modern and high tech way of living where entertainment is at our fingertips at all times, we have trained ourselves for instant rewards. We have a phone in one hand and a tablet in the other while watching a show on TV, as just one channel at the time no longer is enough.
Do you find yourself getting restless trying to read a book?
The way we live makes it even harder to focus on achieving our goals, but fortunately, tech comes with several advantages – including tools to help us stay on track.
Having progress towards your goal requires good habits, and the good news is you can set yourself up for success by making conscious choices about how you spend your time, combined with tools to help you get there.
Break your goal into small tasks
Manageable tasks are a vital part of getting things done, and breaking major projects down into tasks is the first step. Don’t put down “work on my new book”, be specific: “write one chapter for the new book”, or “write 10 pages for the new book”.
Use to do lists where tasks are assigned to specific days
Assign your tasks to specific days and use alerts so you don’t miss them. Don’t overcrowd your days, the goals MUST be possible to complete within the timeframe you set. Schedule tasks according to when you do your best work, for instance, we tend to be more creative in the AM than in the PM.
Don’t forget to set aside time for breaks – you need and deserve them.
Use timers to get things done
Set a timer for 10, 20 or 30 minutes (never more than an hour) and work on a specific task during that duration. Allow yourself a small break in between each session.
It is a really good way to stay on point and avoid becoming a stray cat on the internet looking at random things when you should be working.
Remove the distractions
Bring in the tech! With browser-extensions, you can block those time-stealing websites entirely when you are supposed to work.
Some extensions are less strict and just gives you a reminder that you are supposed to be working, not browsing. Pick the one that is good for you (you know how much self-discipline or lack thereof you have!), and make it even easier to avoid temptations.
Allocate an allowance of time for specific sites, define what is to be considered work hours – or use the instant lockdown feature to only focus on work for a period of time.
This Chrome-extension also tells you how much time you’ve spent on certain sites (ouch!).
This extension doesn’t block sites entirely, it simply asks you to maybe take a deep breath instead and then go back to your work.
It is great in the sense that if you really need or want to visit that specific site you can, but it reminds you that that is not what you are supposed to be doing and makes it easier to snap out of the habit of looking for distractions.
Remember the suggestion of using timers to make sure you stay on task? This extension does exactly that. The timers are for 25 minutes, and during that time distracting websites will be blocked.
Another gentle approach to blocking sites entirely is Timewarp. You can set it up to show you an inspirational quote when you try to visit a site you shouldn’t, redirect you to a page of your choice or show you the amount of time you’ve spent on the site you are trying to reach today.
Set your own work and break times, and add the sites you shouldn’t be able to block during work-hours. You can even specify for how many minutes you shouldn’t be able to access them. When you are during break-hours you can access all the blocked sites – reward time!
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