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How to deal with distraction AND be productive

Many productivity tips will advocate avoiding distraction. In practice this is near impossible. Even if you were to lock yourself in a padded cell(1) you also have fleeting off topic thoughts so distraction can come from within. So, instead of a fruitless attempt to avoid it, let’s just find the best way to deal with it. My advice, jot it down in your notepad or software equivalent and get back to the task in hand as fast as possible.

What this will mean is,

  • Don’t enter dates, priorities into the task list at that time
  • Have a fast and effective system where the item can be noted quickly and you can get back to the task in hand.

Both these points have ramifications. For the first, you will have to re-visit this point at another time. This is like the distinction in Getting Things Done between the Inbox for collection of tasks and the “What is it?”, and the subsequent sorting of the activity. I do have another way of sorting the tasks at the point of entry that enables skipping of this step – I will post on this time saving technique another time.

For the second point, one needs to have a good look at the system you are using. If it is too slow and cumbersome you need to ask is this the right tool for the job as often such tools would not then truly be utilised if they are causing more work and therefore reducing effectiveness.

So, there you have it. Embrace your distractions for a short time, like giving a hug to a smelly person!

  • I make no judgements about your use of this.

Let me know how you deal with the inevitable minor divergences from your activities?

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers!
Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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