Before I had a laptop, I would grab a pad of paper, a pen, and my dog-eared thesaurus, and go out to our patio to write while watching the sun come up every morning. Once I got my shiny new Macbook, I expected to get a lot more writing done. Except that every time I stopped to check a word or reference online, I’d find another interesting link- to an article that might help my story, maybe, or a forum discussion on a particular theme. I’d stop and check my email, or decide to make a quick visit to Facebook… and, well, you get the idea. The point is that faster, better computers and technology should automatically translate to better productivity- but with all that power comes far too many distractions.
What finally worked for my writing productivity was discovering WriteRoom, a full-screen environment that takes away everything else on your screen- so it’s just “you and your text”. (WriteRoom is for the Macintosh; Windows users should check out DarkRoom).
When I’m designing or coding, I’ve found that Isolator (Mac OSX) helps my concentration tremendously, allowing me to automatically hide everything but the current window I’m working in- including the Dock and the MenuBar. An even simpler application is Backdrop, which gives you a giant blank window against which you can take screenshots and focus your attention on whatever you like (it’s free, too). For something similar on Windows, check out DropCloth or the wonderfully named Jedi Concentrate.
How do you beat your concentration killers?