Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Are You Being Productive?

I've never been diagnosed as having A.D.D., but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that I have it. I'm very easily distracted, especially from things I don't enjoy. If I'm watching a movie, it would take a catastrophe happening around me to get my attention away from the screen. On the other hand, when I'm at work or at home doing something chore-ish (laundry, washing dishes, etc.) the smallest distraction can lead me astray.

I’m distracted easily when I’m at a computer. At work, I get calls all day long and I recently found myself talking with a Welding Distributor from California who’s name was Gordon. Now Gordon is not a very common name, so it brought to my mind the only two Gordon’s that I’ve encountered in my life. One, I went to high school with. The other Gordon that came to mind was Gordon Shumway. Now you may be asking yourself who is Gordon Shumway? That’s Alf’s name. You remember Alf don’t you? The 1980’s sitcom about the Alien Life Form that lived with a suburban family and ate cats. He was a puppet. Before coming to earth and being called Alf, his name was Gordon Shumway on his home planet. (Sadly, this is the kind of information that takes up space in my brain, not tons of scripture, not 2 years of high school Spanish, but details about ALF.) Anyway, so I get off the phone with Gordon, and I’m thinking about ALF, and I remember that I saw every episode of that show but never saw how it ended. So of course, rather than taking time to file something or do anything work related, I decide to take a few minutes and google info about ALF to learn how it ended.

Before long, I had spent approx 10 minutes AT WORK surfing the web learning about ALF. Once I had learned about ALF's sad demise (it never really ended, just got cancelled after a cliffhanger season finale) I realized I owed my boss about 10 minutes of work time. I knew something needed to be done to help me stay on task.
That's when I found a piece of computer code. If you...

1.) Input the following code into your notebook or any simple text editor....

' Written by Robert Matusky ~~
' 2009-04-05
minutes = 20
seconds = minutes * 60
milliseconds = seconds * 1000
userContinue = msgBox ("Are you being productive?" , vbYesNo + vbSystemModal )
yesVal = 6
if userContinue = yesVal then
Wscript.sleep milliseconds
end if
loop While userContinue = yesVal

2.) Save as productive.vbs
3.) Click on that file you saved....
It will create a note that will pop up every 20 minutes asking you "Are you being productive?" If you answer yes, it will go away and pop back up 20 minutes later to ask you the same thing. If you answer no, it will go away and stop bothering you until you click on that file to start it running again.
Believe it or not, this has actually helped me be more productive at work.

On the other hand I've also realized that this code can have other uses. If you change the text in the code you can make it ask whatever you want...
I'll leave you with some examples.

1.) Do you look Marvelous?
2.) Should you XYZ? (Examine Your Zipper)
3.) Have you paid Shawn the money you owe him?
4.) Did you remember to use deodorant?
and of course....
5.) Have you googled ALF today?


  1. I'm being productive. My body is producing all kinds of things right now.

  2. TOO funny! I will use the vb script when I start my NEW JOB! Yes I think i have a good offer as of this am....YEA!!!!
    Remind me NOT to play Trivia Pursuit with you...the whole Alf's real name scares me!

  3. Shawn,

    I feel like Desmond in the Hatch having to type in the code and push the button. I too surf the net and write blogs but I still spend less time doing that than the smokers in my office spend on their smoke breaks..BTW I found an article that backs up the theory of how surfing the net can increase your productivity. enjoy
    Surfing the Internet for fun during office hours can make you a better employee, a new Australian research indicates.
    Web browsing at work can improve productivity, but only when done in moderation
    The study conducted by the University of Melbourne suggests that people who surf Internet for non-work stuff at work are often more productive, giving better performance at work.
    However, the findings show Web browsing can improve work productivity only when done in moderation.
    Researchers at the Department of Management and Marketing at the University of Melbourne have found that employees who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who refrain.
    "People who do surf the Internet for fun at work — within a reasonable limit of less than 20 percent of their total time in the office — are more productive by about 9 percent than those who don't," says lead researchers, Dr. Brent Coker.
    To reach the conclusion, Coker studied the habits of 300 workers and found that 70 percent of workers engaged in what he calls "Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing" or WILB.
    WILB can be defined as the Internet for fun activities like playing online games, watching videos on YouTube and keeping up-to-date with friends’ activities on social networking sites as well as looking for information about products, reading news and playing games.
    Coker claimed WILB helped workers sharpen their concentration, enabling them to focus better when performing tasks for work.
    "People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," Coker said in a statement. Taking short breaks actually helps the mind refresh and improves concentration, he said.
    "Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity."
    Coker said firms spend millions on software to block their employees from surfing the Internet during working hours as they believe “it costs millions in lost productivity". "However, that's not always the case," he noted.

  4. OMG-ness. Both your post and Chris' response were too long for someone actually DIAGNOSED with ADD to read. I had to take an amphetamine just to get through it.

    I entered the code and changed it to "Have you finished reading Shawn's book of a post?"

    The answer is consistently "no."

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