This is part of my Tech Workers' Guide To Distraction Free Work
A “Big Rock” list is like a traditional To Do list, only more focused. I begin with the one thing that I must do today—my “Big Rock To Move” or “Big Rock” for short—and write down all of the items associated with accomplishing that goal.
For example, a few months ago, a software bug brought down part of the company website. Fixing the bug was my “Big Rock” and my list included:
- Recreate the bug on my laptop
- Fix the bug
- Deploy the fix to production
- Notify stakeholders
- Add regression tests
- Prepare for the postmortem meeting
My “Big Rock” list kept me focused and made it easy to say No to less critical tasks.
Another example: last week, my wife flew to California for a funeral. Her “Big Rock” was to have everything packed by Friday at lunchtime. So she made a list of all of the prerequisites, e.g., doing laundry, digging out travel-sized containers, etc. Because she had her list, she didn’t forget anything.
Creating a “Big Rock” list helps us focus on the day’s most critical objective.
Take action: Write down your “Big Rock” for today and brainstorm its dependencies.
Tech Workers' Guide To Distraction Free Work
Practices: Just Say No
- Just say No
- Stop Looking For Drama
- Beware Of Taking On Extra Responsibility
- Make an “I won’t do” list
Practices: Say Yes
- Track your distractions
- Stay focused with a To Do list
- Make a “Big Rock” list
- Follow the 2-minute rule
- Try the Pomodoro Technique
- Make a list of questions
Practices: Control Your Physical Environment
- Find your Den of Productivity
- Eliminate distracting belongings
- Limit disruptive noise
- Listen to music
- Silence your phone
Practices: Control Your Digital Environment
- Close your email
- Leave social media
- Close your browser tabs
- Limit distractions from Slack
- Try an app blocker
Practices: Get Organized
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.”