Some days are just not good days for staying focused at work. Today happens to be one of those days.
I've tried a few different strategies for fostering and maintaining focus. I've tried the Pomodoro technique, where you set a timer for 25 minutes and you work, ignoring all distractions for that time period and then follow it up with a 5 minute break. You repeat that process and every fourth 25 minute session you take a longer break. If you come up with any distractions during one of your 25 minute "pomodoros" you write them down and just move on without acting on that distraction.
The technique generally works pretty well for me – but not alone. I need to combine that with some sort of auditory distraction as well. I love listening to podcasts, but generally listening to something that's giving me new information can be distracting. I need to listen to something that I know – something I've listened to many, many time. Beatles music works really well for me since I was *completely obsessed* with the Beatles from age 15 to 18. I've been having a bit of a Beatles renaissance lately, actually, and very much enjoying listening to them pretty much non-stop. But this afternoon I knew I wanted something different. Music wasn't going to do it for me.
It had to be "Ghostbusters". I've seen the movie hundreds of times – it's one of my favorites and I know the movie by heart. The only drawback to half-watching this movie while I work is that I keep laughing out loud and I keep catching myself speaking the lines aloud. I wonder what my coworkers think… "Oh, the crazy girl is laughing/talking to herself again."
I'm able to watch "Ghostbusters" at my whim, by the way, because of StreamToMe on my iPhone. I <3 it. There's a small app that runs on my iMac and that, in combination with the StreamToMe app on my iPhone, allows me to stream my entire iTunes library as well as media content from any other folders I specify. The iTunes stuff can be streamed without an app through Safari, but this app allows me to output to a TV via the component out cables (and I don't think I could do that through Safari (though I've never tried)). I love that feature because we don't bother with cable and so when I want to watch something while I'm working in my sewing room, I can use the cables to output Netflix or, now, whatever I stream from my iMac downstairs (without having to wait to sync it to my phone!) to the little TV I have up there.
I'm sure that technology and the web play into my inability to focus in the first place, but I love that I can find ways to use them to solve the problem as well. My Pomodoro timer tells me it's time to get back to work now, so I'll pour some fresh coffee (yes, have some) and get back to it!