How to overcome Internet distraction disorder

The digital revolution has created an unexpected challenge: How do you get work done when a world of amusements is always just a click away?

Unsubscribe

With all of the new social distractions out there, it's easy to forget what a colossal time sink email can be. Unless you take action, the number of various "lists" you're on -- spam, email newsletters, alumni panhandling organizations, chain letters -- will grow and grow. But who has time to slog through the confusing unsubscribe processes that emailers set up?

Unsubscribe does. Just install the app, and when you're looking at an email sent via any kind of list, Unsubscribe will automagically figure out how to get you off the list and delete the message.

Note that even though I'm an email list publisher myself (gratuitous self promotion: Mike's List), I'm happy to tell my subscribers about Unsubscribe. Why? Because people often unsubscribe from quality content out of frustration with the overall quantity of junk. But the ability to easily get rid of the junk makes room in people's lives for the good stuff. But I digress.

Unsubscribe will help you purge your work email in-box of a lot of distracting garbage, and it will give you more time for the important emails that help your career.

FocusWriter

Sometimes you need to write without the distracting stuff on your screen. Several tools exist to help you do that. One of the best is FocusWriter, and it's among the few with both PC and Mac versions.

Just download the zip file, drop the files into a folder and launch the executable. All the menus and buttons are accessed by sliding the mouse pointer up to the top of the screen. You can change the colors, fonts, sounds and so on, and also add spell check and other goodies.

If you use these tools and keep your work and play systems completely separate, you'll be able to purge distractions from your work life.

Bottom line: The cure for Internet distraction disorder is to never play on your work machine and never work on your play machine.

You'll accomplish a lot more in less time. And you'll enjoy your leisure more.

(Author's note: I've been thinking about writing this column for a long time, but was goaded into action this week by this post by Seth Godin.)

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free email newsletter, Mike's List.

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Mike Elgan

Computerworld (US)
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