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

One way I limit distractions is by limiting disruptive noise. I have three options:

  1. Go somewhere quiet.
  2. Wear noise-canceling headphones.
  3. Drown out the environment with white, pink, or brown noise1.

Now, everyone is different, but I prefer to go somewhere quiet because noise-canceling headphones give me a headache. And regular headphones bother my ears after extended use.

Since Covid-19 began, I’ve worked from my home office fulltime. When my kids get rowdy (they’re on summer break), I close my door and turn on a bit of music.

Take action: Find a quiet place to work. If that’s not an option, experiment with noise-canceling headphones or different colors of noise2.


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