Of course, it’s not really the computer itself that creates distraction. I heard one talk discussing the distraction and the magnitude of our motivation to avoid discomfort. And the computer is so good at comfort, and gives so many outs when we sit down to do something productive – games, social media, email, googling random stuff, etc., etc.
I am very susceptible to distractions when at the computer. The skill of paying attention, and being immersed in what we are doing – holding that focus – is not practiced often enough. I know – I’m terrible at it. But I’m trying to do better.
On the digital side, here are a couple of gizmos I’ve been using to help wrangle my own focus.
A simple ambient noise player that doesn’t have its own window. It lurks in the volume menu on linux (shown here on Ubuntu Mate 19.10), and just has a little play button, and you can hit forward and backward to flip through the noise choices. I’m sure a neurologist or someone could explain why white noise and ambient noise help so much, but they really do for me. It’s a little weird.
A new thing I’m trying. Pomodoro timers, to give a little sense of urgency, that I only have to focus on whatever it is for 25 minutes. Just enough pressure to not fall into the internet on my computer. Or at least not so much. This is a minimalist Gnome timer for Linux, and it doesn’t do anything but count down from 25 minutes and then tell you take a break. But that’s all you really need, so it’s great.
Have I mentioned Redshift?
I know I have. But I think the eye strain part of things is critical. Blue light is the worst and I want to give our whole world a blue light-ectomy. I get kind of intense about it. You know those blue LED Christmas lights? It’s the season right now and they are all over my neighborhood, and they hurt my eyes. You can’t even see them properly, they seem to recede compared to the other light colors and it’s just weird. There’s a ton of documentation about how it effects sleep cycles and whatnot too. My opinion is that they make our nervous systems anxious and frantic, being exposed to as much blue light as we are. We need snuggly orange firelight colors to make us feel safe and cozy.
Anyway. Just use Redshift and its equivalents on all the devices you can.
And on the analog side, I will say writing notes and lists and plans on paper helps a lot too. I am a planner nerd, you might say. I get scattered if I don’t have things written down, and the act of writing them out is grounding and soothing for me. It settles out the hectic soup of my mind. So I use a Filofax planner so I have room to write down all the things. I have a LibreOffice spreadsheet with A5 size printable templates that I will share when I have finished fine tuning it.