Last night I presented on “Advanced Custom Fields: Building Great UI and Future-Proof Designs” at the Pasadena WordPress Meetup Group I tried to cover why you should use ACF, the details of basic integrations, and a handful of advanced examples to show the power and flexibility of the plugin. The slides are available for download here
I originally decided to go into web development so I could spend time writing code and building things. As I got started with my business and grew it over the years I quickly discovered that my job was less about software development and more about reading and responding to email. I had a to do list and was doing the GTD thing theoretically, but I never got to use my to do lists. I was always putting out the latest fire, responding to whoever was yelling loudest in my inbox.
I got really good at managing large quantities of email. On a phone call? Blast through some emails. Waiting for the microwave? Read one on my phone. Have 5 minutes between tasks? Don’t watch YouTube, check some email. Yeah!
I got so good at processing email that it became muscle memory for me. Command-space, M, return (I use LaunchBar)
As anyone who writes/creates/develops for a living knows, interruptions are disastrous. So whenever I had to focus and get some work done, this email habit was a problem.
One day I really had to buckle down and get a big chunk of dev work done. I thought, I should quit Mail.app and you know what? Even if it’s silly, I’ll also change the LaunchBar shortcut for M to my list of ultra-important-must-do tasks so I’m truly focused. This’ll be great.
What I discovered next was interesting and quite startling. I was working along, and then – as it inevitably goes with development – I’d hit a bump in the road. Something would not work as I expected. I needed to rethink my approach. Huh? Why is my list of ultra-important-must-do tasks open? Without even thinking my fingers had tried to open Mail. My mind and body had been trained to compulsively check email the moment I encountered a development hurdle.
This happened over 10 times within the hour. It would happen without me even consciously thinking about it.
Today I have a new “system” that seems to work really well for me. I took Mail.app out of the LaunchBar index altogether, meaning the one way I access email is to actually move my mouse down to the dock and open Mail. I turned off the badge for unread messages as well so I wouldn’t be tempted when command-tabbing through open applications.
This additional barrier to opening mail prevents me opening it by muscle memory and means I have to be more intentional about opening Mail. It’s a tiny change but has made a big difference in limiting my self-inflicted distraction and lets me focus more on the task I’m working on.