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Stahp "the Internet" from sabotaging your work time

from Sarah Prasuhn on December 7, 2015 05:05am


Reddit. Facebook. Twitter.
Git. Trello. Email.

Yesterday's tabs and windows stare back at you offering two paths to start your day: productive work time OR casual meandering through all things internet (evil whispering) that no one has to know about.

Choose carefully, because once you start down the (now literal) click hole can be hard find your way back. We all do it from time to time, but I've created a way to break the cycle of getting lost at the start of my work time and you can to.

If you have complete burn out/extended depression. If you have been hitting it hard, had a launch, or big life changes you may need to take a serious look at a significant break. Once you take that big break, an intentional work pattern can really help on the low days.

If you're just generally tired because you decided to catch up on four episodes of your favorite show and the coffee isn't kicking in, then a fresh work pattern could make a huge difference for you right now.

Many times in life our patterns aren't created intentionally. Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook sneak into our routine with their notifications and shares. Our early-bird colleague's emails torpedo our planned to do list, before we're even on our way to the office. All of these factors can be overwhelming, because they leave you feeling like to control your routine, you also have to control everyone and everything else which is IMPOSSIBLE.

So how do we control the rate of descent into our work space without having to post "Get out!!" signs up and down the internet to protect your time?

By intentionally changing the small things that make up your environment, you create little cues that, over time, make your brain WANT to work. Essentially you train your self-concious to work with you instead of against you.

Is that Basshunter I hear??

As a consultant who's other full time job is parenthood, my work time can vary greatly in location and length of time. So to keep me on track for short or long spurts, no matter where I'm working, I've created a pattern that I use over and over again. It's made me faster and more productive than I ever was working full time in an office setting. Because my brain goes on auto-pilot, just in a good way.

Here's the pattern that I use to keep me on track, when it's time to get to work:

Sarah's Get to Work Pattern

  1. Start a non-billable timer for tracking setup time (We love Freckle)

  2. Wrap any quick emails, leave open stand alone window of emails with notes--I time box this to 25min most days so I only hit the most critical and don't get lost in my inbox

  3. Close all social media and/or browser windows

  4. Start soundtrack (I literally have three albums and one radio station that I always start work to.) It works so well that if I'm shopping and I hear any of these songs I start thinking of blog posts which I then gleefully get to type into my sparkfile on my phone.

  5. Start billable project timer (Sometimes project email comes after this part)

  6. Open IDE, browser, terminal, PSDs etc.

  7. Review issue tracker, transcribe notes from emails

  8. Get to coding

And that's it, by doing this every time I sit down my brain creates habits around these patterns. Which then thankfully allow me to operate at a higher level than my pre-coffee self is usually capable of.

I also have a similar pattern to end the day that's a reverse order with some git commands thrown in. The shutdown pattern helps me wrap things quickly, as well as tie up any loose ends so I have a fresh space the next time. It also forces me to know that when I want to quit at 5pm I have to start my pattern at 4:30pm because I know how long wrap up generally takes.

Both patterns are something I wrote down and went down the list during the first few weeks, because brains are just organic matter and CANNOT be trusted.

Patterns are also very useful when merging Drupal and design elements, which is why I created the Quickstart Foundation in D7 guide. It takes the pain out of theming Drupal 7, by only showing you what you need, and not making you wade through a bunch of PHP code you don't need to get a custom theme working. If you prefer Bootstrap, Get on the list for special Bootstrap QuickStart pre-sale discounts and other design tidbits coming soon, even ::gasp:: Drupal 8 theming guides.

I refined my pattern making skills with the help of these awesome tools, The Power of Habit and Amy Hoy's book Just F*ing Ship it.

And for the extra curious here is my starting work album choices. I change this from time to time with songs I've listened to later in my work time on Pandora or Spotify radio, but for the past few years I always start with these:

Animal by Miike Snow

Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club

Gossamer by Passion Pit

Basshunter radio on just about anything.

What do you like to listen to? What does your morning pattern look like? Tweet me @sarah__p, I'd love to learn from you too.

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