November 12, 2017

What do you do to deal with your distractions?

Hey :)

I would like to know what do you do to stop or reduce distractions when you work?

Do you have a technique? Or do you use a tool?

YouTube, Twitter, Feedly, are really good to take my attention.

Thanks in advance for your response!

  1. 6

    Much like Ivan Mir, who wrote this excellent piece on keeping productive over the course of a work week, I'm certain I've got a moderate case of undiagnosed ADHD. So I've spent a lot of time over the years experimenting with tools, techniques, and theories for keeping on track.

    For me it boils down to engineering the conditions for flow into my work environment.

    And it begins before I wake up. Using the default Mac OS Automator, I built an app which shuts off my WiFi every morning at 5am, so when I wake up and open my laptop, I have to make a conscious decision to activate WiFi, open my browser, and start surfing non-constructive sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. (My primary task system is Dynalist, which I can use offline.)

    From there, pre-defined lists take me through some morning routines that help keep me on track (e.g. drinking coffee, tidying my office), and I immediately follow up on this by identifying and carrying out my most important task of the work day.

    Tool-wise, depending on whether I'm trying to prevent myself from getting distracted or pulling myself away from distractions in real time, I've tinkered with all of the below:

    • Switcheroo Redirector: redirect from distracting sites to constructive sites

    • StayFocusd: block sites entirely for durations of time

    • Pomodairo: desktop app providing an audible task timer for keeping on track

    • Underhead: a checklist app I quickly built that only shows the current task (I open this URL using a Helium browser, which remains on top of every other window)

    I also schedule a couple long breaks into my day. This has some important psychological benefits that I won't go into here, but it also gives me the chance to consciously choose how I'm going to spend my recreational time — I usually walk to the park while listening to an edifying audiobook — and prevents me from mindlessly and unconsciously falling into squandering these downtime hours browsing the web.

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg. 😅 But I should mention not to forget the fundamentals: get enough sleep, eat well, and try to exercise daily.

  2. 5

    What works for me, does not have to work for you. Try different things and see what sticks. These are some of the things what do work for me (trial and error over the last years).

    ## Tech things that help me:

    • disable notification centre completely;

    • disable any notification on Slack (so no badges);

    • hide menu bar and dock;

    • do not disturb always on for my iPhone;

    • iPad, disable almost all notifications from apps (only have texts on);

    • make a list for the day to work on (I use Things where I move tasks to a specific day to work on);

    • use something like RescueTime to get an idea of how you spent your time;

    • other than Slack no communication is done on my macbook (email is done once a day on my iPad in the morning).

    ## Personal things:

    • do work you thoroughly enjoy (I wake up and get excited about the day to work on something);

    • admin stuff when needed first;

    • delete any social media account that doesn't bring you real happiness, only check any account 1 - 2 times a day;

    • get enough sleep (find out your best sleeping pattern);

    • make time to relax (hike, read a book);

    • exercise regularly;

    • eat healthy;

    • limit/no sugar;

    • don't take your work to seriously, be passionate about it, but know there's more to life.

    Well, something like this. ✌️

    1. 1

      Thank you for your very clear response! (and for all your trick)

      I also deleted social apps from my phone, it's very efficient.

      1. 1

        I was reading how some "celebrities" were doing this and they say they LOVED it. They say that they're getting news the old fashioned way - they read it in a newspaper or they watch it on tv later.

        That's interesting. So, if you're not scrolling through IG, Twitter, or FB, what do you do with those free minutes of time?

  3. 4

    I block the worst distractions in my /etc/hosts file. The friction of having to edit it is enough to keep me on tracks.

    1. 1

      Radical! :p

  4. 4

    I work on Mac, and I had problems with the distraction, mostly because of visual noise (notifications, a lot of open windows, desktop icons) I tried a lot of applications and then sat down and developed two applications that helps me not to get distracted.

    When I need to focus on writing text (replies to letters, post to blog) then I just turn on "Focus Mode" (turning off notifications, hiding desktop icons, menus and Dock and shading all but one window).

    When I'm actively working with several applications (for example, when I write code or make documentation for my applications), then in the application switcher I just turn on the mode of "do not show hidden applications" and all applications that I do not just need now are not displayed.

    Many people block access to the Internet, with the help of Focus, StayFocus or simply disable the Wi-Fi router or use extensions for barochers to block sites and social networks.

    In fact, my technique is to hide everything that does not concern current work.

    I do not want this to look like an advertisement, in reality I just saw your question which drew my attention, although I wanted to write a history of the development of these two applications, but more to share experiences and even more to cause discussion and get advice from colleagues Indie Hackers.

    Sorry for my English.

    1. 2

      Very interesting!

      Yes share the story of development would be cool :)

      Are your applications public?

      (my english is uncertain also ^^)

      1. 1

        I already wrote a development history, but still need to edit - just a lot of details and still need to find someone who will translate my stream of thoughts into normal English :-(

      2. 1

        Command-Tab Plus


        DeskCover (new version UnDistracted)

        and I think it's something to do to block sites, but Self-Control does it all

    2. 1

      Wait we have a 'Focus Mode' on Macbooks?! mind. blown.

      1. 2

        I did not quite understand what you meant ...

        "Focus mode" is the term, the actual mode of operation when the application windows are hiding (shaded), the Dock and Menu bar is hidden and so I focus on the work.

        Although you made me wonder, maybe I should use a different terminology

        1. 1

          I did not know this function existed on the MacBook. Fascinating...

          Thank you!

  5. 3

    Pomodoro has worked really well for me.

    I used to face the difficulties you have mentioned. Social network sites are real beasts in terms of distraction.

    I have tried to block social media sites, but it did not work out. In hindsight, the more sites I blocked, the more eager I wanted to check on them.

    So I figured, in terms of changing the environment, I should change myself. I started practising Pomodoro. I have been enjoying it since(probably 1 to 2 years).

    Hope that helps!

    1. 1

      I had to look up this Pomodoro method.


      I might give this a try. Cheers!

  6. 3

    At times I find it challenging to focus and stay motivated on my side projects. There are so many more distractions at my apartment that I find it super valuable to go to a coffee shop or co-working space to work. This also reminds me that I'm there to work. Not look at Facebook, Youtube, etc. The sooner I finish, the sooner I can go home and hang with friends, family etc.

    To make sure I work on the most important thing, I keep a running list of priorities on my phone and work my way down this list.

    1. 1

      Yes, having a place reserved for work is a good technique!

  7. 3

    Technique: I use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize tasks after important vs. urgent. In my focus time, I handle important and urgent tasks. When I don't make a big effort to focus on one task, I handle urgent but non-important stuff. It's important for me to split big tasks into many small ones (check-list). Otherwise, I get overwhelmed and don't tackle big tasks.

    Apps: I'm using "focus" to block sites for when I want to get a task done. It blocks everything, from Facebook to Youtube and everything inbetween.

    1. 1

      Technique: I use the Eisenhower

      which application are you using?

      And how do you divide different areas of work: marketing, development, etc., how to prioritize

      1. 1

        Honestly, I use pen and paper because there's no distraction. So, whenever I'm sitting down to plan my day or what to do, I focus only and that.

        The areas of work are prioritized by their biggest (business) goal impact.

  8. 2

    I've found that it's better to inoculate yourself against slacking by structuring work before getting in to it.

    I use Joseph Campbell's technique of breaking the (waking) day up in to 4 blocks of 4 hours, 3 hours of which are for uninterrupted work and 1 hour is slack time. I use a Pomodoro timer to break the 3 work hours up into 25 minute blocks of total focus. The 5 minute rest periods are for news sites, Facebook, etc. I do all my eating, housework, and slacking in the 1 hour gaps between work blocks.

    It's a pretty rigorous schedule, and like any plan to for "right living" one is bound to always fall short, but I find that it helps me get a lot done.

    1. 1

      Yes, it is necessary to be rigorous, so as not to transform the 5 minutes of Facebook into 30 minutes. ^^

  9. 2

    Very boring, but I go running. Around 30 minutes of running clears my head and I'm able to organize my thoughts.

  10. 2

    This is exactly the problem I've been struggling with for a while and the one that I'm trying to solve with my latest project. In my experience blocking websites completely does not work long term, as you sometimes really need to use them. I built an extension that 'soft blocks' websites. You can still access them but you have to wait for (by default) 15 seconds to do so. You can check it out here:

    1. 1

      Yes, I agree with you, blocking websites completely is not a solution for long term.

      Your solution is very smart! And UI looks great, is it you who draw graphics?

      1. 1

        Unfortunately I'm not really that good at drawing. :) All the graphics are made by really talented Snopek Nadia. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon stock art that fits the product so well. You can find her portfolio on shutterstock.

        I think that the solution really has potential, I'm looking into developing an extension that's enjoyable to use and does not feel like a torture device. There's still a long way to go but I've already got a few sales since the release yesterday so it seems that people like it.

        1. 2

          Thank you, yes the UX is very important!

          Good continuation for your project ;)

  11. 2

    50 minute pomodoro sessions - goal get 5 pomodoros per day. If I fail, my accountability partner will slap me. After that you can social media all you want :P

    1. 1

      Interesting technique ^^

      I've already tried Pomodoro, but it doesn't fit all my work.

  12. 2

    I'm terrible at avoiding distractions when I have to do "boring" but necessary work. I use on my Mac and it's great for when you need an afternoon of focused time, it blocks websites and apps too, and it's quite configurable.

    There are some alternatives out there, even free, like, but I quite liked HeyFocus so I went with it, it's not too expensive.

    My phone is constantly on "do not disturb" mode too.

    1. 1

      Yeah, I know Focus, but I'm on Windows ^^

      Do not disturb mode is a life changer!

  13. 2

    I use Toggl to track my time, and I subtract minutes from the timer whenever I get distracted. Having to do that several times always gives me a nice kick in the but. It's also nice that Toggl's desktop app floats on top of other windows and reminds me what task I'm supposed to be working on.

    Another thing I use is Timewarp, a Chrome extension that blocks certain websites and redirects me to productive ones. This helps counteract those unconscious moments where I black out for a second and wake up on Facebook or Hacker News.

    Having deadlines throughout the day helps, too. If I know I have a meeting at noon, I always work hard right up until that point.

    1. 2

      and redirects me to productive one

      Excuse me and what "productive one sites"?

      I additionally use QBserve to track the time spent, in fact I look at statistics from time to time and receive notifications when I spend more than 10 minutes on sites that are considered distracting. I think not to be distracted is not a technique but the mood and probably the motivation and goals that you set for today ... Here I am now instead of writing code I read IndieHackers :-)

      1. 3

        I set up all my redirects to my task list in Asana.

    2. 1

      interesting... Thank you! :)

  14. 2

    Personally, I made it harder for me to get distracted.

    So for my laptop I have a chrome extension that blocks websites. I can get on the websites but I have to use an incognito.

    For my phone I delete any time -consuming app, I can still use the app/website but it's another step and sometimes I don't want to go through the extra step.

    Also apparently the color on your phone helps keep you on it so I grayscale the color

    1. 2

      Block distractions is too radical for me ^^

      I did not know the last trick

      1. 1

        It kind of is but it works, I use to waste so much time on Reddit. After I blocked it, it became a hassle to use and now I just look stuff up on Reddit and leave