The Distractor

1 minute read

My reading material lately has been a mix of self-improvement and, unrelatedly, James Bond books. While I haven't learned anything useful from Mr. Bond, here's one productivity tip worth sharing: Name your electronics after what they often are—distractors.

Though I don't watch much television, I am guilty of mindlessly scrolling through my social media feeds on my phone. This reflex can turn into a time sink of at least five minutes for me. Multiply that by several times a day and that adds up to a lot of time wasted. "Just one more meme," he said.

Name Your Device

In a list of ten ways to master "deep work"1, Co-founder/CEO Jaleh Bisharat writes:

7. Name your device.
As soon as I started thinking of my phone as my "chief distractor," it made it easier—necessary even—to put it away. Labeling whatever distracts you will help change how you feel when you use it.

Think Twice

I've named my phone "The Distractor". Now, when I'm trying to get into some deep work and I find myself reaching for The Distractor, I think twice. Can I afford to be distracted right now? If I'm taxed and due for a break, sure. Otherwise, no. The device's name combined with a little thoughtfulness makes engaging with The Distractor much less enticing.

What's your favorite productivity tip?

  1. Professor and author Cal Newport coined the term "deep work", in a book of the same name, as "the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task". ↩︎

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