Avoiding Distraction

I’m at that unenviable point in a new software job where I’m learning how to use the infrastructure. At any company that’s been around long enough, chances are the infrastructure is pretty old, and while certainly well-designed and optimized, the optimization is often to make it fast or reliable, with ease-of-use by employees being a secondary or tertiary goal. My company’s infrastructure is also private, which means that the vast Internet resources such as StackOverflow that I have used to learn new things throughout my career thus far are no longer available to me. It’s challenging, but that’s fine. Like my coworkers like to tell me, “it will be easy to use once you are experienced enough with it to find it easy to use.”

In the meantime, I just have to keep my productivity up. Putting a sun lamp in my room has been very helpful, and I’ve also decided to try and eliminate distractions. I already work in a personal office, which helps, but on the Internet a momentary break can easily turn into an indefinite waste of time.

Probably the most interesting solution to this kind of issue I have ever heard of is the “productivity owl.” The productivity owl is an animated owl that sits on your screen and watches what you do. You may visit sites not related to work, but only briefly. If you spend too much time on a site, the productivity owl will fly over to the tab and close it. The reason I did not use this tool is that the owl also has a “respect meter” that goes down if you disable it.  So, just for giving the owl try and deciding it didn’t work out, I will be judged.


Instead, I use a simple site blocker, sensibly named “Block Site.” The only whimsical thing Block Site does is present me an image of a mustachioed construction worker who counts the number of times I have tried to visit the site in question and chides me in a way that evokes an Eastern European accent. So far it has been effective.

I eagerly await becoming more experienced with this infrastructure so things aren’t quite so frustrating, but to be honest it might be wise to keep Facebook blocked at work on into the future.


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