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How to Handle ‘Digital Distractions,’ PART TWO: The Top 3 Ways to NOT Waste Time When In Front of Your Laptop…

9 December 2011 2 Comments

African american male using laptop...

“Digital distraction” is a big problem these days, partly because we live in a hyper-communicative world where cell phones, email and social networking has conditioned most of us to be OVER-accessible, and thus, constantly distracted and interrupted from what generates profit and builds long-term success.

We covered a strategy for that yesterday though…the other part of digital distraction (its more insidious side) is that the tools we now use to work are inherently PREDISPOSED to distraction and interruption as well…so even when no one’s around, the technology itself encourages (and facilitates) the *squandering* of time and attention, which just happen to be your two most valuable resources if you work with information, media and your mind.

So it’s a double-edged Moorish-scimitar: if other people are your problem (“external digital disruption”) read yesterday’s piece, but if you yourself are your problem (“internal digital disruption”), read on young Skywalker…

Technique #1: Use Organized, Targeted Bookmarks

As simple as it sounds, first create a bookmark system for yourself that’s completely ORGANIZED (not just a crazy-large folder of “cool” websites you haven’t looked at in years). Create one set of bookmarks in a folder called “work,” another in “school,” another in “bills” and so on.

asian senior organizing information

Second – and most importantly – make sure the bookmarks link DIRECTLY to the act they’re associated with, because the main way we’re distracted online is by ads, headlines and other shiny objects on our way to a specific task.

Use bookmarks like a direct teleport-system to the places you need to go *precisely* (not general areas). This’ll save time, but also circumvent most of the distractions that would’ve came up along the way.

For example, in “How to Make Facebook Productive” I talked about bookmarking your facebook profile page, instead of the super-active homescreen with the Times-Square newsfeed effect. THIS WILL WORK WONDERS FOR YOU…just trust me and check out that post out for more details.

Technique #2: Turn the Internet OFF

I remember moving out of my old apartment, spending a day with my roommate to get all the utilities transferred to his name and coming back home that day to find the internet completely shut off, AFTER the company specifically told me they wouldn’t regardless of the transfer. (Note: “Cox” Communications IS NOT your friend in the digital age.)

Needless, to say, I was heated (I planned to put a new blog post up when I got back or something), but in a few minutes, I calmed down and woo-sah’d myself enough to realize the only thing left to do was write my book.

Take a second to think about this: most of your real work DOES NOT require the net, and was accomplished (in some form or fashion) for at least the last few centuries without it. So in a lot of cases, if you simply turn off your connection (or set up a circumstance where you can’t access it), you’ll find there’s nothing else to do but work.

Technique #3: Associate Devices w/ Specific Purposes

Next year, I plan to get one of those sleek tablets that keep coming out, because I don’t want to use my main work-computer for entertainment purposes anymore.

mid young woman using tablet

The idea here is to slowly condition yourself to associate specific taks with specific machines, because your unconscious mind will eventually learn to delineate between each one and automatically put you into a certain “zone” as soon as you pick the device up.

Try writing the next time you’re laying in bed (as opposed to sitting at a desk) and see how long you go without sleep. Try talking on the phone next time you’re standing in front of the fridge (as opposed a living-room type area) and see how long you go without stuffing your face.

It’s the same idea here, just the digital parallel to it: your subconscious mind orients your moods, psychological states and actions based on conditioning, so if you use a specific machine only for work, you’ll Pavlov-dog yourself towards more productivity over time, simply by picking it up or sitting in front of it.

If you’re not in a position to “cop gadgets” like that right now, try the going into different rooms (or places) thing just mentioned. You’ll find it having a good, effortless effect on you.

That’s all for now, so remember: we live in a techno-cratic age where constant digital distraction is THE NORM…most people simply aren’t familiar with what actual productivity looks and feels like anymore, so you need to consciously work against that social dynamic.

Prevent the external distractions (bothersome people) by simply trafficking correspondence to specific, predetermined times of day, and prevent internal distractions (you disrupting yourself) by circumventing the subtle dynamics that encourage it.

Use organized, targeted bookmarks to teleport yourself directly to the important tasks and, from time to time, outcast yourself from digital society so you’ll have NO CHOICE but to work. After that, start using your devices exclusively and you’ll end up associating them with their respective purposes and states of mind.

Hope this helps. Leave a brother a comment or something below: what’s your favorite of the three? Any technique of your own you’d like to add on???



  • fatima farasha said:

    I love these suggestions, especially the last two.

    Also what help me stay focus to task’s at hand is I just recently bought a 2nd desk (which is right next to my main desk). One desk is for admin and critical work the other is for creative work.

    :) thx 4 the article!

  • Clarence Middleton said:

    Great tips and Great Advice!1

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