11.2. Avoiding the Tempting Time
Some time wasters are just irresistable. It comes down to "everything in
." Short conversations around the watercooler break up the boredom and
and let us return to work refreshed. Multihour conversations about nonwork topics, on the other hand, are not so
The problem is that it is difficult to do things in moderation. As Oscar Wilde said, "I can resist everything but
." It's difficult to say to yourself, "I'll just play video
for a minute" or "I'll just look at the subject lines of my email and only read the important ones." Soon you're deleting spam, replying to
, and then you look at your clock and see that a few hours have passed.
So what works?
I can avoid temptation if I set up rules of thumb and mantras for
(see Chapter 3) and then find ways to enforce them.
It would be nice if every five minutes our
would think, "Gosh, what's the benefit of what I'm doing right now?" That would help us recognize when we've
into a time
and snap out of it. Sadly, we're not built that way.
I've found that it's better to set up rules for myself. Rules such as "When this alarm goes off, I'm going to stop playing this game." At home, I have an old-fashioned kitchen timer with a loud bell that requires two hands to turn off (one to hold the device, the other to
a knob to 0). Thus, I can't just slap an off button and return to my video game. (I also enjoy the irony of being
by technology but using an antique timer.)
In the office, I'd feel silly with the mechanical timer going off all the time, and the noise would disturb my coworkers. Therefore, I use other alarms and reminders, such as iCal.
Rule of thumb: set an alarm before doing something "just for a minute."
While I find that I can be much more productive in an office with the door closed (due to the lack of interruptions and noise), there are times when having a coworker with me makes it easier to avoid temptation.
Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of valuesand witnesses.
Franklin P. Jones
Working with someone on a project can make it easier to stay focused. First of all, if I am
, I have the
, "Sorry, I'm working with someone right now. Can you come back later?" However, the bigger reason it works is that I just don't even think about the temptations. For example, I can't check my other email inbox, the one I use for personal stuff, right in front of my coworker.