2 min read

Can good rituals save you from distractions ?

I've recently watched Get Off the Tightrope by Tom Stuart:

He touches on some things that I try to battle in my approach to work recently - call for special treatment from knowledge workers in any field. Notion similar to the one depicted below.


It's hard to disagree Tom, that these scenarios are often the result of working on problems way bigger than we can reasonably expect to keep in our personal RAMs and the lack of proper task slicing.

Despite that, it strikes me I still find the comic relatable, even though it's been over 7 years since I went remote (with some brief intermissions). No one can come up to me and start talking out of the blue, most of the distractions I am getting these days are result of my poor will and monkey nature. They come over via Slack, email  and all the other communicators that I had to give permission to invade my focus time first. The tools proposed in the talks to alleviate the effects of Badly Scoped Work - are more behavioural and suggest a way to allow for interruptions in the office environments mostly.

We are under a tyranny of immediacy - every notification you get tries to make its way all to the top of your attention stack. After all, your colleagues are waiting for your invaluable input. How far does it take us from being productive throughout the day if we don't limit the control this feeling can exert on our plans?

Here's my remedy for a different kind of environment - the remote office:

  1. Set times for when to use Slack, mail & otter communication tools
  2. Stick to the times set - don't allow yourself get distracted by the notifications
  3. Time-box the hell out of your calendar
  4. Use Zapier to auto-update your slack status -> https://zapier.com/blog/automate-slack-status/
  5. Make way for some unplanned work in your day - 2 hours should be plenty
  6. Trust the people who call you, that they know what's at stake. If it's a phone call = it's important enough to possibly wipe what you're working on from your stack.
  7. Defend your approach with your superiors if you must. It's not about you being elitist, it's about doing the work you are paid to do. If you can't focus, you can't be effective, if the environment doesn't let you focus, you have to mould it to remove the obstacle.