Things I Stopped Doing On My Desktop

by Veronica Domeier Originally published at communicatinglongform.com

It’s been over a year now and there are several things I stopped doing on my desktop.

A few years ago I uninstalled the desktop Twitter app and I haven’t looked back since. Knowing that I could not be distracted by the becoming call of that little icon was huge. It was nice to not feel the pressure to open up the app and try to keep up with all the incoming tweets, while simultaneously trying to focus on whatever project I was working on at the time. I only allowed myself to check Twitter on my iPad or phone from that point on. Which meant I had to physical take my hands aways from my keyboard or mouse to do this.

It was a small thing but it helped keep me on track. To this day I have zero social media apps installed on my desktop. Last year, this got me to thinking what else should I stop doing on my desktop? So I looked for other distracting habits that kept me from focusing on the task at hand.

Here are a few more things I stopped doing:

  • I stopped watching Netflix. I am someone who genuinely works better with noise, so often times I would play a movie or a documentary on Netflix in the browser while I worked. Usually, something I had already seen so I wasn’t distracted by what’s going on, but it was distracting when I would stop to take a break and start watching what ever was playing. Even for just a few minutes, it changed my focus. So now, Netflix only gets streamed to the living room tv when I’m ready to actually watch a movie and give it my full attention.
  • I stopped leaving my internet browser window(s) open. It’s a small thing really. And something most people probably do, honestly I didn’t realize how distracting is was until I stopped doing it. I often had several browser windows open at once, all competing for my attention with the “let me just check this one thing real quick while I’m thinking about it.” syndrome. The only reason I was even thinking about it was because I saw it.
  • I stopped reading articles. Yes, I will refer back to articles on my desktop through bookmarks or Instapaper but only after I have read them in full, and only as a reference or to copy/paste the article link or quote into an article I’m working on. I no longer read entire articles on my desktop. This one is more of a personal preference for me. I enjoy reading article more on my iPad or even my phone (in landscape mode). And because of this preference it has made not wanting to sit and read articles at my desk much easier. If I come across something I am interested in reading, without thinking twice I save to Instapaper for later and move on.
  • I stopped checking email. I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but it wasn’t that big of a leap for me. The year before I stopped checking email first thing in the morning — it’s just not productive and it often got my mornings started off on the wrong foot. So I sent out a notice to all my clients letting them know I would only be checking and responding to emails twice a day. Once mid-morning or before lunch and once mid-afternoon around 4pm. I went into much more detail on the merits of this decision with them and thankfully no one pushed back on it. But then I found once I have my email open and after handling all client related emails, I would inadvertently start opening non-work related email that had come in — and since it was ’time’ to check emails this was ok too. It was these non-work related emails; newsletters or someone sharing a link usually, that would inevitably lead me down the rabbit hole that is the internet. An hour would go by before realizing it and shutting the browser down. Email fail.

I wanted my desktop to be a place of serious work. Knowing that once I got to this point in my workflow it was time to really focus and get it done.

And it seems to be working for me. Not only did I deliver better client work last year, I wrote more than I ever have before, I published more blog post, I wrote an ebook, and I shared more of my personal work online than in previous years.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me on this, what have you stopped doing at your computer? Reach out on Twitter too.

Thanks for reading!