I once heard a story about an author who had designed a house especially to be used for writing. The house was built on a mountain and had an impressive view of the valley and mountains beyond.
The author had designed an office especially for writing. It had large windows overlooking the gorgeous view. Facing the windows was an expansive desk where the author planned to write many books. However, there was just one problem.
After moving into the house, the author discovered that he couldn’t get any work done. He would sit at his desk overlooking the gorgeous view, but he just couldn’t concentrate. It turned out that the view wasn’t inspiring him. It was just a distraction.
There are a lot of things that can distract us from operating at our peak productivity. Sometimes these distractions come from the outside. Long-winded co-workers, annoying dorm mates, and screaming kids are easy to see as distractions. The distractions that are the most harmful are the ones we create for ourselves. It is hard to list these types of distractions because they are different for every person.
Here is a list of common things that may be a distraction for some people:
- Screen savers
- Desktop wallpaper
- Listening to music while trying work
- Desk decorations
- A running television
- Instant messaging
- Email notification
- The view outside your window
- A stack of mail
- News alerts
The point is that, while many of these things aren’t bad, to certain people they can be distractions that prevent reaching an optimal level of concentration. You have to determine for yourself if something is having a negative impact on your productivity.
Back to the story of the author, he finally found a way to get back his productivity. He simply turned his desk around to face the wall.
Originally published December 20, 2006.