Get shit done. I mean it!

Like any other web developer that respects what he does, I am constantly trying to better myself as to how productive I am, how much I am really getting done and what is the quality of what I do.

Along the way, I tried many systems and methods for getting myself in focus, for not getting distracted by all the noise, both digital (mostly) and human around me.

I think that finally after a long time, I did find what I was looking for, and there’s nothing fancy about it, no fancy system, no calm music no nothing.

So, what is it?

First, let’s focus on the problem, as I am sure most of you will relate to it.

The problem, and this comes as a personal confession of mine as well, is all of the so called “social” websites, and all of the news around us. Think about it really, in an average day, you are exposed to so much digital noise that can blow your head. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, DM, Email, Messages etc… How will you be able to get shit done with all of these in your way?

Well, You can’t, at least I can’t.

Let’s talk about a slice of 10 minutes from a regular, not that focused day of programming.

But first, a short introduction…

You come to work, maybe you are a bit tired, you are not the “sharpest” that you can be, your mind drifts to the car you want to buy, to those shiny Dr. Dre headphones in the Apple store on University Ave. Palo Alto.

Well, you get the drift, you are not as concentrated in the work as you should be, Add an iPhone notifications through Facebook to that mix and you get a mishmush of thoughts that can go through your mind in a single minute.

My focus is very fragile, if I don’t really focus at what I do, I can’t be the coding machine that people think of me, I really can’t. So, back to the slice of 10 minutes of work.

00:00 – Sit down, open up textmate on the project

01:00 – Open up the test and save it, just to see nothing breaks

02:00 – Watch the console as it goes green on 100+ tests

03:00 – Forget you are doing something, go to Facebook

10:00 – hehe, this is a funny youtube kitten @elado posted.

Maybe, I got the times wrong, but the second your mind gets a chance (probably before minute 3) it will drift away to the less painfull, not thinking part of it (a.k.a twitter and facebook).

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE twitter and I LOVE facebook, it’s just there’s a time and a place for these websites and coding time aint one of them.** What have I tried and failed (and probably you did too)I tried being tough on myself, I tried closing up my facebook account and removing the Twitter icon from the dock.

Nothing helped, the behaviour pattern is so embedded in me, that it just failed.

What the hell does Cezar Millan got to do with that?

Cezar Millan is the dog whisperrer, I am addicted to his show on National Geographic. What he always does, to snap a dog (sorry about the comparison here, stay with me) out of his bad behavior is touch him firmly on the body.

Well, I thought about it, but the conclusion was not that I hit myself every time I go to Facebook, it’s just a virtual slap in the face.

OK, I am getting to the point.

So, what’s a slap in the face virtaully, when you want to go to Facebook.

This is:

How did I do it?

At first, I did it manually, I changed the hosts file on my Mac, and made all of the websites I don’t want just go to localhost. That is brutal force right.


That was all I needed to get back to focus, the distraction part was so automatic, I did not intentionally go to Facebook (I swear), I just did it in a moment where my mind drifted, in the nanosecond where focus is fragile. So now, when I do it, I just see the Forbidden message and go right back to work.

And then, it got even better.

But I will let you see for yourself.

You can go to my fork of the repository here

Now, all I do when I want to really work and focus is go to the terminal and hit

sudo get-shit-done work

and when I have time, like after lunch for 10 min’s or so, or at night from home is just

sudo get-shit-done play

Beautiful, elegant and simple solution for the problem, it helped me a great deal to be much more productive and my focus now lasts for hours (that sounded like a cheap Viagra spam message :))

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[NOTE] updated July 11, 2011. It's 2758 days old . This article may have outdated content.