Productivity tip #3: Remove distracting stuff from your field of view.

One of the things I’ve found to be the biggest hindrance of concentration and productivity at work is distracting stuff in my field of view.

It could be a lot of things… action figures, art books, notebooks, meeting notes, any gewgaw or knick-knack the mind can conjure. But every single item in direct or peripheral view of your workspace is a potential distraction.

I’m not saying you should get rid of everything on your desk. I’m saying you should move it all out of your immediate field of view while you work. If you’re supposed to be focusing on your monitor, move anything that can draw your eyes away from it.

Ideally, when you’re looking at what you’re supposed to be looking at, you’ll see two hands, a keyboard and a monitor and nothing more. You’ll have to turn completely and inconveniently around to start distracting yourself from the job at hand.

Identify the things you’re supposed to do that are important to you, and identify the things that distract you from that. Don’t mix them. Put them in to separate places and make it a discouraging amount of work to switch between those two classes of activity (productive and unproductive).  If you can raise the level of difficulty in engaging in unproductive work, you’ll be more likely to maintain productivity.

Harness your natural talents and don’t rely too much on your simple will to succeed and be productive, because that can falter. Make it idiot-proof. Imagine yourself at your worst and laziest, and erect barriers to unproductivity for THAT guy. Then be your best. That’ll ensure that even at your worst, you can’t help but do your best. Don’t leave that idiot a way out, and stack the odds in favor of making yourself proud. 🙂

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