Duh (but useful) Distraction Killer

Foto courtesy Naarna CC-by-sa

Foto courtesy Naarna CC-by-sa

You are probably aware of the keep it simple crowd that roams the internet. People like me who reasonably consider that many of the applications we use are far too complicated for our needs.

And yes, too much complication slows you; it’s distracting.

Most word processors, for example, how features that go unused even for the corporate user. And that is even truer for the home user. What should we do?

An easy solution has been simpler programs such as Abiword or Open office. They run quite well, open source, I find them crashing less often than many “professional” applications, they are easy to learn and they get the job done.

A more extreme solution are programs such as java darkroom, in which you can see nothing but a blank screen and a cursor with which to type. A keystroke combination will let you save and run some basic tools (spell checker, word count, that kind of stuff), or save as plain text.

That’s that. It gives great results for many people. You concentrate on the text, and once finished you copy and pasted it wherever is needed. Afterwards you can concentrate in fonts, styles and design. It’s great for novel writing.

But…

I’m going to propose you something else, even simpler and available to almost every application: full screen. Hitting F11 or the “View” menu -your millage may vary, so check your software- every or almost every menu becomes hidden and you get the essential, usually a full blank screen will a cursor. Returning to normal view is often as simple as hitting the ESC key (again check your application help).

I know that most of you already knew it.

What I want is that you try it out working that way, so you can later tell me about. In short:

Switch to Full Screen.

Focus on the text (or data, or the essential stuff)

Once you get the essential done, return to normal mode and work on visuals and the design (bold face, styles, and so on). You will see how faster you will get things done.

And that’s that. It’s quite duh, but it works, especially for easily distracted people like me. (That and plugging internet off, when you have no good use for it…)

Of Races & Minutes

As some of my readers and friends may know, I’ve learned to love running. I have to confess that the thrill of a race did not come naturally to me, probably because as a child a combination of flat feet, sneezing nose and protruding belly did not help much with my running.

Anyway, I’m no runner, even no amateur, I just run or jog most days. Such a feat does not probably means a lot to the most fit of you. For me however it has been quite an accomplishment, to keep on running most days after almost a year.

Now what?

I have arrived to running almost every day through Kaizen. I began running 5 minutes -no kidding- and then slowly raised up the minutes until I consistently run from 20 to 30 minutes, and then I stopped making conscious progress. Now what?, I wondered… I just can’t go ever increasing more and more minutes.

Most probably, I’m still making some progress, you get better at anything that you do every day, of course. But the thing is that I’m still not satisfied; yet I was not sure of how to measure any more progress. I don’t want to increase the minute count much more. I have a whole life besides running, and it’s busy enough to make me feel guilty if I run too much.

Besides I do not want to go counting miles -or in my case kilometers- using some fancy step counter that I would probably forget to bring more than once.

Yesterday, I came to a very simple, convenient idea: Races & Minutes

Minutes, you know them, that’s the unit your watch uses to count time. So what’s a race? A race is just a symbolic unit of length. In my case, I define the race as one full turn around the swans’ pond in the park next to my home. In your case it could be any track, any length, any space you are familiar with and know more or less how much time you take to run through it. It can be even some other exercise, you could say a Pilates 30 minutes session could be worth 7 races. I’m starting with the whole thing, so I won’t dare assign that equivalencies for you, so just use your common sense.

So this is my challenge.

150 Minutes and 100 Races a week. Starting yesterday, I’ve already covered 23.5 minutes and 13 races. I will be updating my progress on Wishlife, my microblog whose RSS titles you can find to the right, on the sidebar.

If everything goes as planned, next week I will increase to 101 races until I arrive to 110 races in a couple of months. Then, well, then I will have to ask my body if he can yet make another little improvement.

Until then wish me luck. Oh, and by the by, which is your challenge?

Kerry