Why You Should Hide Your Toolbar and Other Deep Work Hacks

We’re officially in the last quarter of the year and I wanted to share an update on my productivity system because things have changed since Spring, but I thought it would be nice to share first a couple of tips and tricks I discovered that help me to work in a more focused way.

Deep_Work

This has been a transitional year for me since I finished all my University exams during the first 4 months of 2018 and then I started both researching for my MA thesis and working more freelance completely from the comfort of my home. An introvert’s dream. But this also means that everything I do involves my laptop and I’ve realized that I had never spent so much time in front of a screen before!

If you’re a procrastinator like me, you’d probably know how difficult it is to just do your work when you have the internet at your fingertips. That’s why I started experimenting with a couple of practices during the last few months in order to prevent myself from wasting my time.

Hide your toolbar and keep full-screen windows

Whether you have a PC or a Mac, I highly recommend you to try hiding your toolbar and keep all your windows full-screen. This won’t just allow you to work in a more focused environment, it will also help you single-tasking (the opposite of multi-tasking). If all I can see on my screen is a big OneNote page where I’m supposed to draft my article, like in this very moment, then it’s likely I won’t be tempted by switching task and reply to emails, for example. I recognize that this tip wouldn’t be very helpful you have a 32-inch monitor, for example, but for smaller laptops is great.

Also, hiding the toolbar of my laptop prevents me to constantly looking at the clock! I don’t know if it’s just me, but having the clock constantly in there makes me feel anxious and time seems not moving forward if I’m doing something extremely boring.

Use multiple Chrome accounts

For some time, I used to have 3 different user accounts on my laptop, one for personal stuff, one for University (connected to my academic email) and one just for distraction-free writing (I only used Word and Google Docs there). This way, I was able to separate the different areas of my life without being tempted to multi-task. Unfortunately, my laptop’s getting older now and it doesn’t survive the account switching thing for more than a couple of times, so I had to find another method: multiple Chrome accounts.

I got the inspiration from one of the episodes of the Make Work Work podcast and I have to admit it works incredibly well for me.

  • I can access different Drive accounts without having to log in and out all the time
  • I can use different Chrome extensions without overloading my browser (I don’t need the Grammarly extension on my personal profile, for example, but I need Zotero to save my thesis bibliography)
  • I can have different sets of bookmarks (and not be tempted by Netflix when I’m working)

Use Todoist for work tasks

I started using Todoist again after we switched to Twist for team communication at Keep Productive and I’m loving it. They integrate very well with each other (I can create new Todoist tasks directly from Twist threads, for example) and I like the cohesive look of the apps, using them solely for work also prevents my brain from task switching and procrastination because I associate them with work stuff. Occasionally, I add personal tasks too but they go inside the Inbox because I don’t use it often for that I always categorize my work tasks when I add them, so there was no reason to add an additional “Personal” project.

Mute everyone on Twitter (and use lists)

This is a little experiment of mine that I’m very proud of since it’s working quite well for me. I have to say that I don’t follow a lot of people on Twitter so I didn’t have to manually mute 500+ profiles. When I start to follow someone is because I enjoy what he/she shares and I know I’d like to interact with him/her in the future, I also regularly clean my Following list. I know this might sound a bit conceited from me, but I want to use social media mindfully and curate my feed.

Speaking of which, I hate how Twitter started adding those useless additions to the main feed that allow you to see what other people you don’t follow are tweeting about, liking and so on. That’s why I decided to start using lists more and check them from TweetDeck. But why muting people? Well, this is mostly for me, to be honest. With the traditional feed, I would just get too distracted, so I prefer to “control” what I see when I open the app.

And that’s it for now! I’ll probably do a follow-up of my productivity system sometimes soon.


I’m aware that there are certain apps and programs that would help me single-task without having to trick myself using full-screen windows, hiding the toolbar, and multiple Chrome extension, but I prefer this way since I already have so many accounts and plug-ins. Also, it’s a way to train me to take part in the Slow Web Movement.

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Hide Your Toolbar and Other Deep Work Hacks”

  1. these tips ring true to me. when i had to finish a sizeable chunk of work during last semester (planning, programming, documenting mostly – but all for one big project), i ended up doing something similar.

    on my work laptop, i run ubuntu, and its standard desktop environment already is a rather minimal affair: just one top bar (menu for currently active program, date/time, tray icons), no bar of currently open windows, no desktop icons, and so on. as i almost always do some work in a command-line interface, i keep a program that slides out (and hides) a terminal covering the top half of the screen on a button press.
    since for almost the entirety of the project, all of the tools used were terminal-based, i maximised this slide-out terminal window to even cover the top bar. it made such a difference! combined with not connecting the laptop to the internet, even my squirrel brain managed to stay focused really well.

    (speaking of ubuntu and your laptop getting old/sluggish: if you end up replacing it with a new one, it’s worth installing a beginner-friendly linux distribution on the old one. it’s basically a free way of getting more use out of otherwise too-slow hardware, and it can be nice or interesting to have another operating system at hand, just for perspective, or as a minimal/distraction-reduced device)

    Like

    1. It looks like you’re organized too 🙂 The only reason why I haven’t installed Ubuntu/Linux yet is that I would spend my time playing with it. You know, shiny object syndrome haha. I’m so used to Windows 7 now that I can easily “ignore” but when I use my father’s laptop that has Windows 10 I would keep getting distracted by all the features and settings. 😀

      Like

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