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

I hate it when I feel stuck on project at work. I feel uneasy but can’t pinpoint the exact problem.

After years of working, I think I found the problem: feeling stuck results from not having the information I need. To make matters worse, I’m not even clear on what information is missing. This unknown missing info is called “unknown unknowns.”

The following questions help me uncover pesky unknown unknowns:

  • Who are the relevant stakeholders for this project?
    • What does each of them want?
    • How will this make their life better?
    • How often do they expect updates?
  • Who will work on this with me?
  • When does it need to be delivered?
    • Is this possible?
    • Is it negotiable?
  • What does success look like for this project?
    • How will I know when I’m materially done?
  • Where will it be delivered?

Once I know all of my questions, I can get answers, and move forward.

Take action: Get unstuck on your current project by making a list of questions.

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