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

When I was a kid, my family had a weekly ritual. Every Friday, we’d get two pizzas from Little Caesars and watch TGIF as we stuffed our faces. I thought pizza was the greatest food imaginable and looked forward to our Friday tradition.

On Saturday, I’d inhale any leftover pizza. I always wanted more but was told it was a “once in a while treat.” And it was until I went to college.

Freshman year presented me with a novel situation: I was in charge of buying all my food, and everything was within walking distance of my dorm. I could have pizza, candy, and soda whenever I wanted. So, I did.

Subway and a pizza joint were closest—only a two-minute walk—and I ate those a lot. During my junior year, I lived near a McDonald’s and ate there a lot. Whatever gummy bears resided in my apartment got eaten right away.

You see proximity matters. The closer I was to a type of food, the more I ate it.

This goes for my attention, too. The closer I am distracting things, the more attention I give them. So I work hard to put physical distance between myself and distracting things.

Take action: Distance yourself from distractions. And pizza.

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