A big part of staying productive at work involves making conscious decisions about when you’re focusing on a task to the exclusion of everything else and when you’re open to interruptions. Author Tim Ferriss interviewed me recently about my bi-modal work style, which can apply to anyone who’s online and at a computer all day long:
Basically, I’ve got two modes of work: loose/open, and focused/closed. When I’m in “open” mode, my instant messenger status is set to available, I’m surfing, writing, checking email, coding, listening to music with lyrics—getting things done, but in a multitasking way, open to interruptions and tangents.
When I’m in focused/closed mode, I shut down IM, stop checking email, close any windows I’m not using, switch to my ambient music playlist, set a timer, and plow through whatever I’ve got to get done. Typically I go into closed mode when I’m on deadline, or feel like too much time has passed since I checked off something really important on my list.
If you can forgive that shamelessly self-referential act of quoting myself, tell me: what different modes of work are you in during the day? How and when do you move between them? Give it up in the comments.