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

Modern life has given us many things to manage and worry about. For example, my family maintains a house, a yard, numerous electronics, kids’ educational goals, etc.

We can’t keep the details for all these things in our heads. Some folks solve this with an extraordinarily long To Do list. But super longs lists are unwieldy.

A better approach is to create project documents1. Each one contains all the details for that project. My project documents include:

  • Home maintenance
  • Kids’ education
  • Declutter / Get organized
  • Blog post ideas
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Electronics

During the day, when an idea pops in my head (e.g., update my phone’s OS), I make a To Do list item Add ‘Update Phone’ to my ‘Electronics’ project. This way, I don’t worry about forgetting that item.

I use Google Docs to track my project documents while other folks handwrite theirs. And every weekend, I pick a project document and spend an hour working through its To Do lists.

Take action: Create a project document for one or two areas that you manage.


  1. “Getting Things Done” by David Allen 

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