Tools for keeping focused

Once I realized that my attention was even scarcer than my time, I became an anti-distraction fanatic. During my weekly reviews I methodically went through my past week, figured out what had been distracting me, and tried to eliminate it or replace it with something less distracting.

Over time, this has led me to find lots of tools (and ways of using my tools) that help me stay more focused. Here are some of the things I’ve started doing:

Anxious yet?

Each of these is small on their own, but like many of the things I work on during weekly reviews, they’ve added up and compounded to make it much easier for me to spend my attention in ways I want.


  1. If your workplace culture doesn’t allow you to keep Slack closed, because it requires quick Slack responses, this is a bad sign. ↩︎

Comments

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Tom

Thanks for the pointer to Kindle4Rss. I had been wanting something like that.

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Luis

Unfortunately, disabling Slack’s blue/red dots is non-trivial for Linux users. I had to do this.

I do most of my Internet reading on my Kindle via Kindle4RSS.

What about hyperlinks?

For instance, I use it to block the clickbaity “hot network questions” sidebar on Stack Overflow

Excellent idea, my life just improved a little bit.

Ben

Yeah, not being able to follow links well is probably the biggest downside. The Kindle does have a (very bad) web browser that suffices for most links that are absolutely essential context, but it makes e.g. linkposts near-completely useless. Personally, I mind this less than I expected—most things are actually fine without links—but it is fairly annoying.

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Filip

what works for me is Pocket 2 Kindle: https://p2k.co/

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Graeme

Found something you may find useful. You mentioned it was hard to block content on ios. I’ve had this problem too. But I discovered this solution:

  1. Instead of ios content blocking, filter the internet using a vpn, such as nextdns
  2. Then using shortcuts, create an automation that runs automatically when you open safari (or your normally blocked app of choice). Have it check if a vpn is active. You can do this with Toolbox Pro, which adds the “check for vpn action to Shortcuts”
  3. If it is active, the automation does nothing. If the vpn is not active, you can have it display a banner notification reminding you to activate the vpn.

The only hitch compared to content blocking is that a whitelist approach might mess with a lot of different apps and services as it affects all traffic, not just the browser. Can’t say how hard a task that is.

Hope that may be of use. Thanks for the articles! I had never figured out how to automate some of my habits on ios, but your article + the discussion led me to a solution. (I’m now tracking app opens of distracting apps using Shortcuts + Streaks)

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