Driven to Distraction at Work

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ADT — attention deficit trait. The symptoms of ADD, without actually being it.

Symptoms: Makes you hop between tasks, unable to concentrate and do good work, unable to find pleasure and satisfaction in the work, makes you feel overwhelmed when really you’re not, makes you irritable, feeling like your live has become superficial (lots to do but no depth), a tendency for impulsive decision making, to put off important work while filling your day with bullshit work and making yourself too available, a haunting sense of guilt.

5 elements needed for focused work: energy, emotion, engagement, structure, control.

. . .

Screen sucking

Estimate how much time you spend on devices Make a list of things to do while boards

Don’t forget how to be bored


. . .

Part 2: Training your attention

Flexible focus


Drift is important because that’s when our executive functions are at work

Flexible focus is less than flow, but easier to achieve. It’s a state that bridges novelty and structure (too much novelty is chaos), discipline and creativity. Something to strive for that’s more accessible than flow.

Constructual law. In any flow system (including our thinking), the system must evolve to achieve greater efficiency of flow, or it will wither. For our thinking, we must consider what are the obstacles to the flow of information in our minds.


Turn it off. Just turn off electronic devices (more likely, internet access) during crucial moments of needing focus

Take a break. When struggling (and at regular intervals!), take a break from the computer and give your brain space to recover.

Trust your way, your system, when you don’t know what to do (what does it mean?)

Do something difficult. People do best when they’re capable enough but stretched. Take on a fun challenge.

Ask for help.

Take your time. And guard it very strongly. Don’t let anyone take your time unless it’s necessary.

Close your eyes. Really, just this. When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, just sit back and close your eyes.

Talk out loud. Engages a different part of the brain.

Do what works. Fuck convention.


Engage in the psychological work of finding out self-limiting patterns of behavior.

The 5 most important ingredients in the recipe for flexible focus

  1. Energy. You need to monitor closely your supply of energy.
    • Sleep
    • Nutrition
      • Keep your glucose levels stable throughout the day
    • Exercise
      • Seriously helps the mind
    • Meditation
    • Cognitive stimulation
      • Focusatwill.com
    • Positive human contact - vitamin Connect. Also dangerous not to have it.
  2. Emotion
    • Work in an environment high on trust and low on fear
    • Know your hot buttons
  3. Engagement
  4. Structure
  5. Control

. . .

Primitive defense mechanisms: projection, denial.

Work with not against your emotional grain. If you like being in groups, work in groups. If you prefer solitude… if you like to take risks or don’t… you know what to do.

Know your emotional hot buttons. There might be things that cause you to be distressed much more than most people. Perhaps the know-it-all, the pedant, the… be aware of it. And then either avoid situations that trigger you or prepare yourself for them so you have the energy not to be thrown off balance because of them.

Play armchair psychologist with yourself. Perhaps there are childhood issues that motivate some of your traits. It’s likely your not fully aware of them.

If we were machines, emotions would not matter, but we’re not so they do. No one is so perfect and so professional.

Seek help and honesty. Never punish someone for being honest with you.

C-state (careful, curious, …) and F-state (frustrate, frantic…). When in F-state, you’re likely to sabotage yourself. Don’t let it. When approaching the F-state, there’s no point in continuing with the work, it’s better to remedy the emptional state.

Our emotions can become the content of our thoughts. When distressed we start seeing things that aren’t there.

Start front the assumption that life is good. Stoicism.


Nuns. Why do we pray? Because the bell rings.

Seriously. You need structure. Systems. Schedules, plans, goals, devices — all structures.

The thought that structure is bad because it limits creative expression is bullshit. External structure is necessary to overcome internal obstacles and even in art the most successful artists followed some kind of structure.

The best structures are ones you come up with yourself. (Example with freezing credit cards)

Beware of external structures you did not intend or set up. Like notifications making us into monkeys.

Play. Work should be fun.

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