It seems like many people in technology are like me... easily distracted and, shall we say, somewhat 'organic' in our organization. In the struggle to become more effective in my work, there are a few tools that I have adopted:
- Twitter - a great tool for keeping on top of the latest trends in technology (and pictures of other people's cats).
- GTD - (Getting Things Done, by David Allen - an excellent methodology for organizing tasks with a focus on clearing your mind to facilitate clearer thinking and greater creativity.
- Pomodoro - a simple tool to help you keep your focus when you are actually doing the work. Here's a little about the technique: http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/ and here's the timer I use: http://pomodoro.ugolandini.com/
Twitter - Such a great tool and I learn so much, but I'm easily distracted so if I followed up on everything in my feed, I'd never do any work. I use the Tweetie client (on Mac) and whenever new things come in, I see the little icon light up telling me there's new things to read. Not so great for someone like me.
GTD - The Getting Things Done methodology is great, but it does seem to be designed for a manager who has a large variety of things to keep up with. There seems to be a bit of a gap if you're grinding away at code for hours on end.
For me, Pomodoro bridges the gap between GTD and my style of work. In brief, with Pomodoro you work for a set period of time with a timer running. When you're done the work period, you take a break for a few minutes. Repeat until all bugs are gone :)
This approach really helps to keep focus on my queue of tasks and helps me block out distractions. During the work period, I really need to block out as many distractions as possible. I noticed a nice little feature of the Pomodoro client I'm using--it has the capability of running AppleScript when it starts or ends a session (not to mention several other events). It occurred to me to use this feature to close Tweetie when I should be working and when I'm taking a break, open up Tweetie again so I can keep up to date with the latest news.
To configure, just add a few snippets of AppleScript to the events you want to trigger.
For example, when I start a Pomodoro session, I want to close Tweetie. Here's what I use:
tell application "Tweetie" to quit
And when I end the session and want Tweetie back, heres' the code:
do shell script "open -a Tweetie"
Just as a confession, I haven't really been an Apple guy, I don't have any Steve-style black turtlenecks and this was the first AppleScript I have composed. Comments are welcome if you know a better way.