Check out this post by Tony Schwartz that talks about some of the things you can do to increase your productivity, including focusing on one thing at a time without interruption.
I have been trying to do the “one thing at a time” approach as much as I can with my work, and it has been working well. This is what made me decide to create the “Focus Light” feature in WatchMe. You can tell the app how focused you want to be, and it watches how often you’re switching tasks (via your timers) and gives you feedback on how “focused” you are. As long as I’m keeping my light green, I know I’m on track.
The work that I do requires me to spend longer periods of time focusing on a single task. The more focused I keep myself (i.e. avoiding distractions), the faster and better the work tends to be. My biggest problem tends to be distractions, either external (people coming to see me) or internal (me finding other shiny objects to look at like new email, small tasks that pop into my head, etc).
I read a short article a little while ago (http://zenhabits.net/how-not-to-multitask-work-simpler-and/) that talks just about this, and how multi-tasking can be a real productivity killer.
After reading this article and others like it, I decided to add the new “Focus Light” feature to WatchMe so that I can get feedback on how focused I actually am. I set my copy of WatchMe up so I allow 4 task switches every 60 minutes (some days I’ll even bump it down to 2 per hour when I want to try to stay really focused). I’ve been running this new feature for a couple of months on a beta copy and it has helped me quite a bit.
This feature certainly doesn’t stop the distractions (stopping distractions is a topic for another time) but it does indicate to me how things have been going, and when I reach for my WatchMe to switch to some other task and see that yellow or red light – it reminds me to try and stay on target.
Here’s to staying in the green…