The Anti-Productivity Secret That Helps Me Focus



I have an odd working habit that most people would shake their heads at. It is certainly unusual, considering that this is the very thing that many get distracted by and can cause many unproductive hours. For me, though, it's exactly what I need to get work done.

So, what's my secret? I watch TV while I work.

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But it's not that simple. I don't have cable so, really, I binge watch TV shows on Netflix while I work. And I swear it helps me focus. (As I write this blog post, I am sitting on my couch, wrapped in a blanket, while reruns of Downton Abbey plays in the background.)

I have always struggled with focusing on one thing at a time. I always had a hard time in class keeping up with what the teacher was saying, and this has continued, and probably gotten worse, in my adulthood. My mind simply wanders to other things, perhaps because of my rampant imagination, or perhaps because I just can't pay attention to just one thing at a time. When I had a traditional office job, town hall meetings were always a blur and I often left the boardroom not quite knowing the outcome. Even keeping up with regular conversations are quite difficult -- not because I am uninterested in what others are saying, but because my wandering mind keeps me from fully focusing on what another might be saying.

When I attempt to focus on just one thing at a time, it always ends in disaster. Instead of completing the task at hand in a timely manner, I find myself reading articles, scrolling through Facebook and watching videos on YouTube. The next thing I know, an hour (or more) has passed and I still haven't competed the task.

However, when I have something on in the background, it provides enough of a secondary distraction that my usually wandering mind has just enough to process that it becomes much easier for me to actually get work done.

There are a few rules that go along with this, though.

I have to choose hour-long TV shows that aren't that interesting (medical and crime dramas serve me well). But, if the show is too boring, I won't want to watch it at all. I am also naturally a night owl, so I find that there are certain tasks that are better done post-dinner, like writing and answering emails. This is usually the time I move from my desk to the couch and turn on the TV.

I know this sounds completely unproductive, but it works for me. I find that I need to have enough going on around me in order to focus and work through my to-do list.

Do you have any anti-productive productivity secrets? Tell us in the comments below!