Chapter 3. Focus

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This chapter introduces a variety of ways to enhance your focus by killing off inefficiencies and needless distractions. You probably suffer from lots of distractions at work, both from the computer itself and from the outside world. Here you will learn how to enhance your focus with specific tools and approaches to interacting with your computer, as well as ways to make your coworkers leave you alone so that you can quit banging rocks together and get some work done. The goal is to get you back to that dazed but happy state of just having scaled a virtual mountain.

Kill Distractions

You are a knowledge worker, meaning you are paid for the creative and innovative ideas you produce. Dealing with constant distractions, both at your desk and on your desktop, can threaten your best contributions to your projects. Developers crave a state known as flow, discussed in lots of places (it even has an entire book devoted to it, written by Csikszentmihalyi). All developers know this state: it’s when you are so focused that time disappears, you develop an almost symbiotic relationship with the machine and the problem you are attacking. This is the state you’ve been in when you say, “Wow, have four hours passed? I didn’t even notice.” The problem with flow is that it is fragile. One distraction pulls you out, and it takes effort to get back in. It also suffers from inertia. Late ...

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