Found in 13 comments
by jawns
One step is to acknowledge that you're not supposed to be good at task switching. It takes a negative toll on everybody. Our brains just aren't very good at it. Because of this, your employer, if you have one, should take steps to minimize the amount of task switching required, or at least try to give you blocks of time you can dedicate to focused tasks.

That said, task switching is a practical reality, so coping strategies are important, too.

For help with that, check out Cal Newport's "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" ( Full disclosure: He and I share a literary agent.

Original thread
by feralmoan
"Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" was a standout read this year
Original thread
by yuribro
Cal Newport - Deep Work

While following the advice in the book did push my productivity up, sadly I didn't manage to keep up those habits. But it does appear to work, just need to make the right adjustments to make it easier to follow.

Original thread
by antoaravinth
Yes, that precisely what I wanted to say. For newbies, I would recommend to read this fantastic book on Deep work [1]


Original thread
by markdog12
Loved the book and highly recommend, especially to hn crowd.

Original thread
by beat
For those interested in managing online time and getting ourselves offline regularly, the book Deep Work, by Cal Newport, has some very useful ideas. One that I plan to start experimenting with is the idea of scheduled internet access - allow yourself to get online only at certain times of day. This isn't just for work. Even if you're, say, standing in line at the grocery store, you don't get to pull your phone out and check your email.

As the author points out, we've forgotten how to be bored. We need to learn to engage that part of our brain again.

Original thread
by brandur
Your best bet might be to be less responsive on Slack — not only by not responding to everyone immediately, but by not responding to some Slack messages at all. If it's important, the person who pinged you can submit their request via another medium, hopefully in a longer form format like email or bug report that's more thoughtfully considered and thoroughly researched, and which you can reply/fix quickly without spending 10 to 30 minutes of your work day in tight synchronous communication.

It's sort of a bad thing to do, but you will start getting fewer Slack messages. People have an implicit understanding of who's likely to respond in a timely manner, and somewhat ironically, it's the most responsive people who have to improve their responsiveness even more because by being responsive they'll get even more messages and interruptions.

On a meta note, it continues to surprise me that more people and companies aren't talking about the highly distracting effects of the software. It works great at small scale, but if you get large enough everyone's pinging everyone all the time. I recently read Deep Work by Cal Newport (excellent book by the way [1]) and couldn't help but being mildly entertained when they get into the time draining effects of email (it seems to have been written a little before Slack caught on). The distraction engine created by Slack is the SR-71's Pratt & Whitney J58 [2] compared to email's 5 HP motor out of an everyday golf cart.



Original thread
by feralmoan
A lot of the points touched on in the original article and this thread are conducive to deeper, creative and more meaningful work in general. You should say no to meaningless distractions. I just finished reading this book about it, so, good timing...
Original thread
by alexmorenodev
Read Cal Newport's I didn't read the free ebook, but it seem another one based on this book.
Original thread
by kentt
Deep Work has been one of the most influential books about productivity.

Original thread
by zzleeper
Link for the lazy:

It's really useful in fighting against all these distractions (I should probably re-read it every few months though :(

Original thread
by aacook
Came here to say the same. Last night I was hanging out with my 3-year-old nephew and wondering how different his life will be, especially with all the advancements like VR coming our way. I feel lucky to be old enough to remember what life was like before the internet.

The idea of people spending 10+ hours in VR per week scares me, but it's probably pretty similar to video game and smartphone usage. Maybe that would be a good place to start research.

A little over a month ago I started working on forming new habits, severely limiting use of network tools. I now only check email/sms/etc twice per day. At 6pm I put all technology away. I'm asleep by 9:30pm, awake at 5:30am, and try not to look at any network tools again until 10am. I'm considerably happier and more productive now. It's a tough habit to maintain and I'm pretty sure a few of my friends think I'm nuts.

A couple good, related reads:

Original thread
by chris11
Cal Newport just released a book on "Deep Work" that talks about that subject. I haven't finished it yet, but so far the book is really interesting.

Original thread

Looking for a good book? Subscribe to the weekly newsletter.