This is part of my Tech Workers' Guide To Distraction Free Work

Taking on extra responsibility has been a distraction for me. It all starts when I feel stuck on a project for work. Feeling stuck is awful, and my brain urges me to find something else to make progress on. As a result, I volunteer for an additional project or non-critical task.

You can guess what happens next. I dive headlong into this other task, complete it, and satisfy my brain. Meanwhile, the original project—the one I’m stuck on—languishes. Then I’m back at square-one, hunting for another trivial thing to work on.

This is dumb.

Nowadays, I ask myself, Am I stuck and looking for something else to do?

I know this goes against the grain of “always do more.” But part of “work smarter not harder” is saying No to non-essential work.

Take action: Before you volunteer for extra work, pause and ask, Am I stuck and looking for something else to do?

Tech Workers' Guide To Distraction Free Work

Common Problems

  1. How Do I Stop Endlessly Researching Topics And Get Stuff Done?


  1. We Want To Be Distracted
  2. Proximity Matters

Practices: Just Say No

  1. Just say No
  2. Stop Looking For Drama
  3. Beware Of Taking On Extra Responsibility
  4. Make an “I won’t do” list

Practices: Say Yes

  1. Track your distractions
  2. Stay focused with a To Do list
  3. Make a “Big Rock” list
  4. Follow the 2-minute rule
  5. Try the Pomodoro Technique
  6. Make a list of questions

Practices: Control Your Physical Environment

  1. Find your Den of Productivity
  2. Eliminate distracting belongings
  3. Limit disruptive noise
  4. Listen to music
  5. Silence your phone

Practices: Control Your Digital Environment

  1. Close your email
  2. Leave social media
  3. Close your browser tabs
  4. Limit distractions from Slack
  5. Try an app blocker

Practices: Get Organized

  1. Make project documents

What do books say about distraction free work?

“You could try to pound your head against the wall and think of original ideas — or you can cheat by reading them in books.”
Patrick Collison

  1. “The Obstacle Is the Way” on handling distractions
  2. “The 4-Hour Workweek” on eliminating distractions