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

A reader wrote,

I’m stuck. I need to finish a feature for an app I’m building, but I keep spending time researching stuff that doesn’t matter. How do I stop?

First things first, your question suggests that you’re feeling stuck and/or unmotivated. Consequently, your endless researching is a coping mechanism. Your subconscious is searching for distractions.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Remember that tomorrow will look just like today. Fill it with distractions and you’ll do the same tomorrow. And the next day.
  2. Spend a maximum of 10 minutes writing a plan to complete the app. Where there are gaps, do the simplest thing.
  3. Make a list of all the questions you have. Write down everything that feels uncertain or questionable. Then get answers.
  4. Spend 25 minutes working on your app and then take a break. Or just 10 minutes. Practice perseverance and grit.
  5. Boost your motivation. Write down three benefits of completing your app and the three worst things that will happen if you never finish it.

I hope that helps!

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