Over at Translation Times, Judy Jenner recently mentioned one of her bad habits as being Shiny Object Syndrome, i.e. getting distracted by something else when you should be concentrating on the task in hand. In my case the shiny objects are definitely e-mail and Vienna (my RSS feed), and to a lesser extent Twitter and Facebook. One of the reasons I get so distracted by e-mail and RSS is that both have a bright red ‘unread count’ badge which appears in the Dock on my iMac. Since I upgraded to Mountain Lion there are also notifications that appear on the opposite side of computer screen. Help! When I’m working I find it very difficult to avoid the red badge and am generally not happy unless nothing is showing there – but constantly interrupting myself like this is not conducive to concentrating on my real, paid work.
So this week rather than just submitting I finally got round to doing something about it. On my computer I’d configured Mail to check for new e-mail every 15 minutes and Vienna for new RSS feeds every hour, and I haven’t changed that. But in the Preferences of the current version of Mail (6.2), surprisingly, it’s no longer possible to hide the unread count. After a bit of snooping around on the internet I found the solution – you need to go to System Preferences, where you can turn off the notification alerts, as well as uncheck the Badge app icon. However I did add an application called Mail Unread Menu which allows you to have a tiny icon in the menu bar at the top of the screen with the number of unread e-mails – much less distracting. For Vienna it’s easier, as in its Preferences you just need to select ‘Do nothing’ under ‘When new unread articles are retrieved’ (a discreet icon remains in the menu bar). I could of course just hide the Dock which shows all the software icons, but I prefer when it’s visible.
Having done this I definitely found it easier to concentrate on the work in hand, as I had less distractions. And just a few clicks are needed when I need or want to change things back again.
What adjustments have you made to help your productivity? Please share in the comments.