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Summary:

MicroISVs, software developers who have fired their bosses and clients to start their own software companies, work on the bleeding edge of online technology. They are the earliest of adopters, among the fastest to jump on a new tool, idea, process or site that let’s them […]

MicroISVs, software developers who have fired their bosses and clients to start their own software companies, work on the bleeding edge of online technology. They are the earliest of adopters, among the fastest to jump on a new tool, idea, process or site that let’s them wring another .01% of effectiveness out of the long hours they put in.

Recently, I took an informal poll among several dozen microISVs I know, fishing for the absolute newest, best, shiniest way of being more productive. I got back all sorts of answers, from specific apps to bludgeon email into submission to doing absolutely everything you do on a computer in a text editor. I’ll explore more on those topics in future posts.

But right away I began to notice a common thread in their answers: they say simplicity and ruthlessly combatting distractions is key to building your productivity skills.

Brian Leach of steelray software suggested, “One key productivity tip: make your browser’s home page very plain. When I made it Yahoo or iGoogle, half the time I started my browser I would get distracted by an interesting news headline or How-To of the day. Off I’d go, and most if the time I’d forget the original page I wanted to visit.”

“My one and only tip,” said Brandon Doyle of DoyleSoft “close your browser. … So hard to do…”

Nick Hebb of BreezeTree Software responded: “I used to have all my interesting, but time wasting, links on the main bookmarks toolbar. All my business bookmarks were organized in a folder. I switched them around so all my business bookmarks were on the main toolbar and all the time wasting favs were under a folder. It’s amazing how having bookmarks out of open sight and just one more click away reduces the temptation to waste time.”

Adriana Iordan of Avangate added, “I like and use Dark Room. It helps me a lot when I want to write distraction free, full screen writing environment.”

Oliver uses VirtuaWin, a virtual desktop manager to shove all the distracting things like email, news rss etc. to get into the creative zone and tune out distractions; Kevin prefers Dexpot to do the same thing.

What’s your best tip for eliminating distractions while you work?

  1. By virtue of the business that we’re in, we have some pretty unique insight here– The biggest thing you can do is minimize interruptive communication. Kill IM. Destroy it. Take it off your machine. Yes, I know it can be productive communication– but just because you have a question right now doesn’t mean that the person on the other end isn’t deeply engaged in something else. Someone once said that email is a to-do list that anyone can add stuff to. IM is 10x worse.

    Also, close your email program, remove all sound alerts for new messages, etc.

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  2. Something I’ve found that works well in my home office is to start working early – before the kids get up. Wake up, take a shower, sit down, work. Period. There are usually no distractions during this time and I get a lot done because of that.

    When I start hearing the noise of family walking around, that’s when I indulge in surfing, accounting or “wasting time” with non-billable work. Once the kids leave for school it’s back to real work.

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