1. Close instant messaging clients. You can waste hours upon hours talking to people about what happened on the weekend or why the the latest web application made with Ajax and Ruby on Rails doesnt live up to the hype. Talking to people is good. Communication is good. Try closing your instant messaging client for 3 hours every day while youre at the computer. Youll find that you get a lot more work done.
2. Invest in more than one monitors. Two monitors is no longer a setup that only graphic designers and hardcore programmers need. Everyone can benefit from having extra desktop space. The combinations are endless, but a common one seems to be keeping email and instant messaging on one monitor and doing work on the other. This splits up your tasks and allows you to keep an eye on everything without minimizing and maximizing windows all the time.
3. Respond to email when you get it. This is something I struggle with quite a bit. You dont necessarily need to type a thoughtful response to everyone, but you should type something. Let them know you got the email, youre thinking about what they said, and youll write them a more detailed response when you have time.
4. Make a list or use a calendar. Make a list of the things you need to do, and use a calendar program to estimate how long each item will take. This way youll have a gameplan for the day and youll see what you need to accomplish and youll know about how long you should give to each task. Devin has a great weekly planner that breaks each day into 30 minute blocks.
5. Take a break. If youre getting sick of staring at your computer get up and walk outside for a few minutes. You will be more productive if youre focused and youll be more focused if you give yourself 5 minute breaks every hour or two.
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Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough we must do. – Goethe