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Cover image for How do you deal with the endless stream of interruptions that we have nowadays?

How do you deal with the endless stream of interruptions that we have nowadays?

vtrpldn profile image Vitor Paladini ・1 min read

Programming is deep work and requires concentration, we all know that.

However, there are some days that I can help but interrupt myself by browsing Twitter or Hacker News when I'm stuck with a task. Which only makes things worse.

How do you deal with that? I can see that being laser-focused would make me much more productive but I have been having trouble reaching that kind of concentration.

Discussion

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Start by tracking your time with rescuetime.com/. When it comes to physical distractions at home, I usually work on cycles of 1 to 1.5 hrs of focused closed door work where no one at home can interrupt me unless it's very urgent, followed by 0.5-1 hr of open door work where I can be reached.

 

That's a great idea, thanks for sharing!

 

Pomodoro technique is the way to go for me, I find extremely difficult to be concentrated for 1 hour or more, if the task is hard it's natural for your mind to wander, so let it wander for a while, another thing I think works is to remove your distractions

 

I have a Pomodoro cycle where I use it in a very disciplined manner for a few days then forget about it for a few weeks, haha.

 

Well. If social media are a distraction to you, and this extends to your desktop usage, you are in a kind of pickle. However, you are literally interrupting yourself. Which isn't the same as fending off notifications.
After I noticed that smartphones were disrupting my life and workflow, I did a simple thing. Removed all social apps and games from said phones. My main smartphone doesn't even have a SIM card, and I mainly use it as a book reader / music player.
But for you, I would recommend this: put your social apps on a phone or tablet, and leave your "social device" out of reach while working. Make a habit of browsing these social sites on a device other than your work computer.
What is your workflow like? Does it have a regular structure? Working on content I don't easily get distracted. Each task is like a meal (research => design => implement => test => polish and commit) so erm. I kinda think this structure helps me stay focused. Obviously not all work is so neatly laid out (which is fine) but what I mean is, when that structure breaks down, I'm more likely to get distracted.
Another thing. When getting distracted, go for a walk. For some people this works well (not everybody).

 

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Tea. I appreciate it!

I'm in a bit of a pickle indeed, yeah. The social device suggestion is excellent.

Good point about structure as well. My daily workflow is basically wrestling whatever stories I have this sprint while trying I try to avoid checking Twitter and DEV every 15 minutes, haha.

It has been almost a week after I posted this question but I feel like I'm doing better this week.

 

I turn off PC notifications, then I check slack periodically when I feel like (I've 3 monitors and the slack is always opened on a part of one).
Educate people to use ticket service instead rushing into IT department which is a bad practice unless something is burning.

Also earbuds with Spotify or Youtube are a must. if you want to say me something use slack, hangouts, come here and let's talk, this avoids people from shouting from side to side of the department disturbing others.

Of course it's nice to keep conversations with our colleagues while at work and the concentration needs are less than average, not having human contact causes depression so don't forget that.

 

Solid points! Thanks for sharing 😄

 

I block social media websites on my /etc/hosts file. Eventually I have to unblock them because important resources are also published there, so it's a never-ending game.

 

Yeah, I used to do that but I get so fed up with the hassle of updating the hosts file that I quit in a week or so 😅

 

Slack is the thing that interrupts me the most, we have messages coming through every few minutes and sometimes I'm mentioned in threads which never seem to end. The Slack calling feature is also really annoying because sometimes people just call instead of scheduling a time and when it happens while I'm trying to debug something complex it takes me at least an hour to get back to where I was and make more progress. I'm more productive on days when things are quiet.

 

Yes! Back when I was working a corporate job Slack was insane. Sometimes I would just close it and check my email/phone every couple of hours to see if something important popped in

 

Yes there is simple solution that works for me - turn it off.

 

I wish it was that easy for me. I have many things to turn off/sign out and sometimes dealing with the FOMO really makes it hard to simply give up 😬

 

I didn't said it was easy for me :)

Fair enough 🙂