You probably already have a desktop PC or a laptop as your main "work" device. What you need is a separate "play" machine. A touch tablet, such as an Apple iPad, is ideal for that purpose. But a second laptop would do just as well.
Now tease apart the software and services. Set up separate Work and Play email accounts, RSS feeds, Twitter accounts, and so on. Uninstall the games and other fun stuff from your work machine.
Never use Facebook or other fun sites on your work machine. Never check work email or do anything productive on your play device. Never use both at the same time. Multitasking is a myth.
Go ahead and bring your play gadget to work. When you need a break, switch to that system. The important thing is to be very clear in your mind about when you're really working, and when you're really not. By doing that, you'll achieve undisrupted "flow" in your work, and you'll enjoy guilt-free fun when you choose to take a break.
You can automate the task of keeping yourself focused by taking advantage of tools like these:
If you haven't tried Instapaper, I highly recommend it. It's the single most powerful productivity and educational tool I know of.
Here's how Instapaper works: You sign up for an account. Click on the "Extras" link at the top right, and drag the "Read Later" button to your browser's Bookmarks bar. Add the custom Instapaper email address they give you to the contacts list in your work email system.
Now, whenever you're on the job and you run across an interesting but non-work-related article, blog post or other content, just click "Read Later" or forward it to your Instapaper email address. Instapaper will save it all for when you're in play mode.
Best of all, Instapaper gives you a clear, clean interface to read everything with focus, complete with picture thumbnails and live links.
With all of the new social distractions out there, it's easy to forget what a colossal time sink email can be. Unless you take action, the number of various "lists" you're on -- spam, email newsletters, alumni panhandling organizations, chain letters -- will grow and grow. But who has time to slog through the confusing unsubscribe processes that emailers set up?
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