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I really need serious help of my habits. It seems that I am not that productive like I was before. Whenever I'm on my laptop, I should be working but instead, I would be opening facebook and do bunch of other stuff. It's like I have to many on my head but I can't seem to finish one.

Here's my observation to my self, if I'm doing some non-computer related stuff like handcrafts, I tend to be able to finish it because my mind is just with what I do, I also don't get easily bored of doing it. Meanwhile If I'm doing a similar thing in the computer, I tend to think a lot in my mind and after a few hours I get bored of it and then will again be doing other stuff (mostly time waster).

My guess is, maybe I had too much time in computer and work that I get easily bored or tired easily. I am also having hard time making my work on time because of that habit. I've tried different softwares that I thought it will help me, I installed a plugin in my browser blocking facebook, but after a few days, I developed a habit opening facebook using other browser, I also installed a time tracker like TimeDoctor but it didn't really help me that much.

I need to be able to focus on my work, enjoy it and be more productive.

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I reduced it by installing some apps on my tab and mob. So can avoid starting PC which can engage me with non-productive tasks. I have strictly banned some sites to be opened on my PC. I have bad habit of watching mov. Now I have started reading books, which make me sleep but dint eat my 3 hours to sit in front of PC constantly. –  articlestack Jul 21 '13 at 17:07
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7 Answers

I found the same problem and what worked for me was to focus on the following two areas:

1) habits: Replace your current habits that are working against you like excessively checking Facebook with habits that will help you reach your goals.

2) willpower: Increase your willpower muscle.

I suggest "The Power of Habit" and "The Willpower Instinct" for instructions on how to improve in those two areas. They worked wonders for me.

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If there are only a few sites which you go all the time, I think it doesn't hurt to visit 2 to 3 times a day, with each visit limiting to not more than 30 to 50 minutes. It makes things worse if you go cold turkey in a short instant because addiction hits back hard and you will lose control over your habits.

There are some things which I might want to try. One of them is to increase the "psychological distance", that is to say that to ask yourself a few questions before you visit facebook or twitter. Ask yourself, what are the things that you wish to know on facebook or twitter? If it is just current news, does it hurt to look at them later? Answering these questions will make you think twice before visiting these sites.

And also there is increasing "physical distance", such as implementing Leechblock or other parenting softwares to restrict the sites that you want to surf. You may even increase the distance further by adding in password to these softwares and these passwords can only be known to your friends or your family members. You can also type in a random password for your FB account since you can always retrieve it later on.

The problem here is that addiction is a source of power overcoming obstacles. The last question that you should ask yourself is that how much of these "distances" are you willing to cover in order to satisfy your addiction. If you are willing to overcome both your psychological distance and physical distance at any cost, then these FB and twitter monsters are too powerful for you to fight. You have lost the battle and you may find yourself resorting to removing these account temporary and find some other things to do. FB allows you to deactivate your account which can be activated at a later time.

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In the book "The Now Habit", Neil Fiore has a strategy called the "Unschedule". Basically you only schedule your play and do not schedule any work whatsoever. Any work on the schedule is only for productive work you have already done.

This way instead of feeling guilty about your facebook time, you will feel better about it since it is what you are suppose to be doing. Denying yourself the opportunity to do work you feel you are suppose to do will have an effect where you WANT to do the work.

After a week has passed you review your schedule to see how much work you have accomplished, as opposed to looking at a future schedule with all the work you are suppose to do.

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Interesting...not sure how well this would work in the context of a very busy job, but interesting, nonetheless... –  Rory Alsop Jul 20 '13 at 19:19
    
Even for really busy jobs, you should be entitled to lunch and the occasional break. This strategy just guarantees that time instead of working through it and being resentful. But this is really for people that get nothing done. If you are going to waste all that time anyway, you might as well schedule that time in. Not scheduling your work actually has a reverse psychology effect where you get angry that someone is telling you that you can't work a certain number of hours per week and you end up working more then you thought. –  cspirou Jul 20 '13 at 19:29
    
You got my upvote anyway - despite it not resonating with me, I can see how it might be useful for people who would get resentful about missed time. –  Rory Alsop Jul 20 '13 at 19:32
    
To continue the thought, France had a law saying you could only work 35 hours per week. I don't think it's a coincidence that French workers also have amongst the highest per hour productivity in the world as well. –  cspirou Jul 20 '13 at 19:35
    
Heh - I don't think I have worked at any company where that law (or the local equivalent) was adhered to :-) –  Rory Alsop Jul 20 '13 at 19:36
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People have an antiquated and two-dimensional view of psychological impetus. I used to as well.

What you are experiencing is not new and is not unique to you. The greatest minds are "the greatest" not because they were endowed with a magical ability to focus without effort, but because they learned how to manipulate their volition.

The other answers are okay but those solutions are, anecdotally, palliatives. The root of the issue in my opinion is: which part of my psyche am I feeding? You grow the psyche and brain potential through choice - deliberate choice not passive choice. The human body and brain have both evolved to prefer that which is comfortable, it is a survival imperative that is (sometimes) balanced by the equal imperative to diversify in order to discover more effective configurations.

The psyche and life are a little microcosm of evolution at work. When you choose that sugary food, that time wasting social network, that junk novel, or those friends that offer little valuable stimulation you are evolving a psychological state and neuronal pathways that keep making those choices easier and easier to make.

How do you get out of it? By making a choice. Given an array of choices within a given moment of time, picking the hardest of the choices will generally always serve you. In the kitchen for breakfast? Deciding to pick eggs and bacon over fruity pebbles may be "harder" if you've been programming yourself to pick quick, sugary, and easy foods over more nutritious but difficult to make food!

Remember all of it is relative, what is a hard choice now may be an easy choice a month from now if you've been "training" that generation of psychological states within you religiously.

Often, this discussion always ends up on personal morals because determining what's hard vs. easy is subjective. It also often lines up with personal meaning, beliefs, and a lot of other complicated factors that influence psychology and decision making.

Realize that you cannot move forward as an agent of evolution without choice and that in an array of choices you have the potential for causing an adaptive response in the physical organism that is your body, and/or in the psychogenic organism that is your psyche - which path that adaptation takes is up to the choices you make in every conscious moment of your life. Right down to which thoughts you choose to think (you do have a choice), which foods you choose to eat, which people you choose to socialize with, which activities you choose to engage in, &c...

Hope this helps. Blocking Social Networks or time-wasting sites is definitely useful, but it needs to be done within the greater context of why do I want to make these other choices. Without knowing why, it makes it very difficult for you to subjectively rank which choices will serve you more or less.

On that note, I'm going to choose to get back to work now :D

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Wow this is very enlightening... Yes, I agree that changing my habit would really help. You've given some good tips, like easy and hard choices, listing down what really matters for me. I thank you for your time to really construct a very helpful content. –  Pennf0lio Jul 2 '13 at 12:20
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I do understand your problem very well - I'm also often struggling with that.

One thing that helped me working concentrated and at the same time having some time to spend "for myself" was using the so called Pomodoro Technique. There is a similar approach described by Merlin Mann as "10+2" - you can set the time intervals for work and break like you need them (but you should define the work intervals longer than the breaks ;-) )

The important rule: no "i'll just quickly look in to that discussion site (or whatever distracts you from work) ... before I'll start working on my important project" during the work time! - that is only allowed in the breaks.

On Windows, there are lots of free timer software programs which help you doing that, but you can also do it with a normal kitchen timer. The advantage of software is that the break starts automatically after the work phase and then the next work phase begins. With a physical kitchen timer you easily forget setting the next time interval.

Positive side effect for me: I sometimes skip breaks when I'm in the "flow" of work, so that helps avoiding procastination.


You'll find more information on the pomodoro technique in many questions/answers here: http://productivity.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/pomodoro-technique

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Thank you, Martin, The Pomodoro is a good resource. Really appreciate it. –  Pennf0lio Jun 28 '13 at 20:28
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I had this challenge before and I have made lots of progress. Key measures I took and were very powerful:

  1. Control the internet access time and content, through a parental control program. Yes, a parental control program can be also be used to start new web habits and increase focus. I've been using the free and not easily cracked K9 Web Protection. I set it up using an administration password (control what times I need to access the web, what categories to block etc - however you cannot, until current version, control what categories to block in certain times; either you block a category/link all the time or no). More importantly, I put the (very long so not to remember it) password at work only. So I don't allow myself to change the settings easily.

K9 controls affects all the internet access. So any browser or application or even Windows itself cannot escape the enforced rules. Even if you run a browser in a virtual machine that uses the host internet access, the rule are enforced. I'm a software developer and I haven't seen a way to trick it except if you do some 10 minutes of low level hacking on Windows.

  1. Have minimal computer environment, both in terms of files and programs. For example, I used to drift to play audio files and watch series. What I did is removing them from my computer and storing them on an external hard disk. Better yet, put it in a drawer and lock it and put the key in your car.

  2. Time tracking is also very helpful. It took me lots of time to acquire that habit. I don't rely on computer software to track my time. I use paper sheet and a kitchen timer that ring every 30 min ~ Pomodoro technique. Later on I can data entry the paper sheet so to have analysis of the trends.

Changing habits is not easy. Enforcing physical (locking distractions away) and electronic (e.g. K9 software) controls help a lot taking new habits. Time tracking faces us with the reality of how we spent our time, which often is surprising especially at the beginning.

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Thank You, at least now I know i'm not the only one, good info! –  Pennf0lio Jun 28 '13 at 2:54
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What you're doing is called procrastination, and it's a very common phenomenon.

Frugal Skills lists some browser software that can help you stop doing it. For instance, Firefox plugin LeechBlock will let you use certain sites only at certain times. Similar plugins are available for other browsers as well (like Nanny for Google Chrome), so you should be able to block all your browsers.

For more ideas, check out http://www.stopprocrastinating.co.uk.

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