How I recognize and eliminate distractions.

What my desk typically looks like when I’m in a deep work block.

This means that in my Deep Work block these are the only things I can do: 

After my morning routine, in which I capture, decide, and organize my day I start a Deep Work Block on whatever I’ve identified as the most critical thing that day. The important thing to remember here is that I’ve already accomplished a handful of small tasks—making the bed, tidying up, cleaning up the coffee, exercise a bit to wake up my mind and to get the lingering anxieties of the morning down on paper so I can see them and deal with them properly. Then I think about what I’m going to work on and I recognize and eliminate distractions. So I can only do these things:

  • Get up for coffee
  • Stare out the window or wall 
  • Sit and do nothing for the entire block
  • Write
  • Most importantly: I cannot surf the web. So I turn it off and not have my phone within arm’s reach. I usually leave it on do not disturb or silent. The former I leave on priority only so that my family can reach me if there’s an emergency, but usually, I do the deep work in the early morning so my phone is off anyway. 

From what I understand, these rules are pretty much the norm for writers: Neil Gaiman talks about it in this discussion with Tim Ferriss. 

This last point, I’ve started using Freedom to lock down the internet. It’s at the point that when I do a deep work block I can’t even open Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. The only thing I can do on my computer is write. It’s basically just a fancy typewriter.

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