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My job requires me to work on a computer, which I do fine because maybe I fear my supervisor might pop in. But when it comes to doing personal projects on a computer, I totally slack off. It usually starts with going online to "research" and somehow I end up reading comic-book blogs. How do I stop this?

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6 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I use a Scrum Board, to see all pending task. But a very important note is to have it OUTSIDE the computer. If you google "Scrum Board" you will find a bunch of web based tools to have an online board. These tools are a great aid for distributed teams. But for you, having your distraction problems, I think having a the board on the PC, and also on the browser will not work well.

So:

  1. Get a board, sticky notes and markers.
  2. Draw your columns (TODO, Working, Done, etc...)
  3. Write your notes (tasks); stick them and start working.

Also the Pomodoro Technique is a great tool, because on every break you can check out your board and it will remind you that you are late or have a bunch of pending tasks. Plan how many Pomodoros you will be working on each tasks so you can have a sense of Time Boxing.

You can check more about Time Management tools on this blog Time Management for the Agile Practitioner, is oriented to software developers but have common tools too.

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+1 for Pomodoro –  Shiraz Bhaiji Sep 25 '11 at 18:54
    
Being a programmer myself, it makes much sense. –  KenSuvy Sep 26 '11 at 18:28
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You need a way to externally motivate yourself for the personal projects. One way is an arbitrary deadline. Another is to use a process/tool to keep you motivated. I did this with my attempt at Pomodoro.

This is general advice though because it depends on why you get distracted. Do you have trouble concentrating and getting in the initial flow or staying focused?

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I've found this site to work quite well in forcing me to concentrate on my current computer-tasks: http://www.marktaw.com/getbacktowork.htm

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First of all, I love reading comic-books also ;)

Second of all, believe me you are not alone in this situation. There are a lot of people kind of these problems. Definition of this word; Princeton University’s WordNet says:

great and constant diligence and attention

I think you don't like what you doing. You doing it because you fear your supervisor. It's normal. Who doesn't :) Find a way for feeling the same thing when you reading comic books for these kind of project. This is the best tip that I can give you. Get excitement when you doing these kind of stuff. Or learn how you can get..

Have you ever heard before the 5 more rules ? I never tried it but it seems to me good. Basicly, after you finish a task, done more 5 things like; read 5 more page, solve more 5 math problems..

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One of the methods that I use to keep my focus is to think of the things that I missed doing by not keeping focus and finishing the tasks at hand.

For example, if I continue to read Productivity.SE ;-) and let my tasks slip, I have put in time later one where I could be spending time with my family, or the tasks just don't get done and gets shelved. Another opportunity lost!

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Actually, this is something I had to teach myself too.

Each morning as I arrived to work, I created a word document, and created a list of everything I wanted to get done today for work, then I arranged in priority.

Lastly I printed it out and put it on this monitor attached copy/clipboard, so while I was working, I can review the list of what I needed to get done each day.

But eventually as printing because unwise, I switched to one text file, that I kept adding new lists each day.

Find your own system, but make sure you look at it regularly.

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