Some of the biggest lies people tell themselves involve the word “just.”
- I’ll just check the email. It will only take a minute.
- I’ll just have a quick look at facebook.
- I’ll just look up this recipe/ word/ address/ restaurant/ person.
-and half an hour later, you’re lost in the maze, turning down another trail, following another lead.
Sometimes the answer is to set a timer. Our sense of time seems to turn off when we’re drawn in to something interesting, so that timer can jolt us back out. If we know we’re not going to spend more that five minutes, we will clarify our priorities pretty quickly, and looking at cats won’t be so enticing.
If you are doing actual work, things may move along more quickly if you use the filing capabilities of the computer. Temporarily grouping your emails by sender makes it a lot easier to figure out what is important and what can be deleted in large batches, what is work and what is recreation. Even sorting the bookmarks into folders can minimize the possibility of distractions.
Before you get drawn in, have a look at the jobs you need to do: email, working on a file, research, writing a paper. Decide how much time is reasonable to work on each task, start with the most important, and set that timer.