Working online can sure make a person feel scatter-brained. Too much information and too many possibilities overwhelm our ability to focus. Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell thinks many of us are suffering from culturally induced attention deficit disorder.
Business Week’s Working Parents blog lists some tips that Hallowell offers in his book CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap – Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD:
1) Set aside time to work before you check your e-mail or snail mail or voice mail, before you allow the world to intrude on your fresh and focused state of mind.
2) Do not allow the world to have access to you 24/7. Turn off your BlackBerry and cell phone. Stretch or have a five-minute conversation. When you sit down again, you’ll be focused.
3) Prioritizing is crucial. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself spread so thin you’ll only be able to see your good friends on the first Tuesday in February.
4) Give yourself permission to end relationships and projects that drain you.
5) Do what you’re good at and delegate the rest. This is important, because when we do what we’re good at, the work can take on the quality of play.
6) Keep in mind that some of our best thoughts come when we’re doing nothing. Downtime is a forgotten art.
I’d also like to know what tools and techniques I can use online to better control my attention. GreaseMonkey scripts that turn off access to Google Reader, full-screen text editors, email filters and rules that direct less important messages to a folder rather than into the inbox, web pages that tell you to get back to work… there must be a bunch of ways to do this. I’m too overloaded right now to figure them out, so I’m acting on Hallowell’s tip #5 and delegating it to you, WWD readers.
What tools and techniques do you use to control your attention online?