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

Years ago, before remote working was popular, I had a coworker I’ll call Bob who worked from his secret “den of productivity” from 7 am to 11 am. None of us knew where he was during these hours, and he ignored emails, chats, and texts. But he would answer phone calls if there was an emergency.

During a single 4-hour stretch, Bob was wildly productive. He shipped more code than he did in week’s worth of afternoons at the office.

We speculated about where Bob might be hiding. Suggestions included a nearby library and coffee shop. Later, we discovered he was actually in our building, but on a different floor. Another company occupied that floor and didn’t seem to notice Bob working in an empty cubicle every morning.

That was ten years ago, and I still think it was a brilliant idea. We all need alone-time to get work done.

Take action: Find a spot to work without interruption for several hours each day.


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