Upgrade Your Life

The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better


Chapter 5

Firewall Your Attention

Your attention is your most endangered resource. The technical props of modern work life—email, instant messaging, mobile devices, and constant Internet connectivity—make limitless amounts of information always available at the press of a button. Every minute of every day, advertisements, software notifications, ringing phones, blinking voice mail signals, and buzzing pagers vie for your attention. But there's are a finite number of minutes, hours, and days in your life.

Hack 36
Limit Visits to Time-Wasting Web Sites

Level: Advanced
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux (Firefox)

"It's too easy to scamper down the rabbit hole of the web when you've got pressing tasks to work on."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 37
Permanently Block Time-Wasting Web Sites

Level: Advanced
Platform: Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X, Linux

"Is there a web site that's utterly toxic to your mental state or ability to work? The preceding hack describes how to block time-wasting web sites during certain times of the day and week. Alternatively, you can block sites at all times, until you explicitly release the restriction."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 38
Reduce Email Interruptions

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"Unread email is just another shot of the information drug your hungry mind craves. It cries out to you, 'Open me! Open me!' However, when you need to focus, do yourself a favor: actively control when you check your email."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 39
Split Your Work Among Multiple Desktops

Level: Easy
Platform: Windows XP, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), Linux

"The more space you have to lay out your materials, the easier it is to get a job done."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 40
Build a No-fly Zone

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"Many modern office spaces have open layouts to 'promote interaction between departments'—which means they're set up to distract you all day long."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 41
Clear Your Desktop

Level: Easy
Platform: Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X

"It's amazing how fast your computer's desktop can fill up with shortcuts and files and turn into a virtual candy store of colorful icons beckoning your mouse pointer: 'Click me! Click me!'"

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 42
Make Your House a Usable Home

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"Your home should be a tool that helps you get things done, a space that's a pleasure to be in and a launch pad for daily tasks as well as your life goals."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 43
Sentence Stuff to Death Row

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"Prune your information channels down to the ones most worth your time to keep up a solid attention firewall. One technique for doing so is sentencing certain information streams to a virtual death row."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 44
Drown Out Sound with Pink Noise

Level: Easy
Platform: Mac OS X, Windows

"If your co-worker's conversation down the hall is distracting you, or your downstairs neighbor's television is blaring up through your floor, block out the sound with a soft static noise."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:




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