The Checklist

The Problem: When you’re finally getting things done, the last thing you need is to be interrupted.

The Trick: Create a list of the ways you typically get interrupted. Examples might be a phone ringing or someone sending you an instant message. When you’re trying to focus, go through the list turning off anything that could distract you.

The Secret: Avoiding distractions is easier than ignoring them when they happen.

How it works:
When the phone rings it’s hard not to look at who’s calling. That often changes your focus to who’s calling, why they might be calling and whether or not you should answer the phone.

If the phone can’t ring, it can’t distract you. Later when you’re finished working, turn on the ringer and check for messages.


  1. Sandra Irby

    Thanks, Aaron. Interesting how many of your tips are things I *should* already know.

    I allowed a phone call to interrupt my morning prayers. In the interests of putting first things first, I think I’ll turn off the bell & put a note on the phone to remind me to turn it on again after I’ve called my Boss about the plan for the day!

  2. joseph


    I actually let so many things distract me, maybe when i want to sit to write article on research work I have done, it is then my friends will come calling.
    Thanks for this tip.

  3. Arun Pal Singh

    That is a nice tip. Phone interrupts with a bang. Better silence it beforehand

  4. Eliseo Elcid Cinco III

    I know about dealing with distractions; what if you’re in a busy place?

  5. Devendra

    Hi Aaron – enjoyed reading your tips along with the problem, secret & tactics. Is it possible that we as readers send our tips & you add the problem statement, tricks, secret & how it works. It would be fun & enlightening to read & share.


  6. Lina

    Thanks for this tip, Aaron, but here’s my problem: What about if having access to the internet is your biggest distraction, but you need to use the internet to get things done?

  7. Aquilino Gabor

    Aaron, you’ve confirmed my suspicion for quite some time. My work email is set up so that new emails pop up automatically from my screen. Because I am easily distracted and have the tendency to people please, I interrupt a project I’m working on to reply even though it is not urgent. Big time distraction! I will set up the email settings to prevent this feature.

  8. srilakshmi

    Hi,Aaron this is a nice idea. And i enjoyed reading your tips.Your suggestions is good.And i follow your tips .
    ThankYou VeryMuch

  9. zizie hazieqa90

    thanks a lot =)

  10. chabala

    Aaron you are so great you know,i have foun that most of things that distract me are the most useless and less beneficial to. thanks men.!

  11. Marie

    I totally agree. I am not a doctor and I can’t save anyone’s life via my phone probably, so not much is urgent when it comes to the phone in my world.

    There was a time when cell phones and even answering machines were non existent and we all live to tell about it and got our work done with much less stress, knowing all the while that if someone REALLY NEEDED to talk to us, they would call back later. :)

  12. Marie

    The internet is another thing I see that I am not alone in finding to be a huge distraction.

    I sort of equate the internet to drinking. We are able to choose to control how much we partake and how much it affects us. If we do too much, we suffer the consequences.
    Internet= STRESS (If you have work deadlines)
    Why do that to yourself?
    I had to realize that it was not the end of the world if I wasn’t on face book every waking hour or chatting or all of the above. Thank God I do not like to text! lol

    So, the internet is not ringing in your ear unless YOU set it up to.

    What I mean by that is, have sheer discipline and a level of professionalism and just do not log into messenger or face book or anything. Use that as a TREAT later on, for being good and getting your “CHORES” (work) done.
    It is very difficult not to go there when you are ultimately addicted to the interaction and used to it. It gets easier once you adapt to cutting it off as needed though, and it is much more professional to do so and in the long run you will feel less stressed and better about yourself when you do it like that.

    I have to decide to BE the big girl that I AM and just say NO until I am finished with my projects… and yes, most of them ARE online.

    Until I win the lottery in a huge way, this is how I must force myself to do things in order to keep my job and stay relatively sane, lol.

  13. faizan

    thanx for the tip Aaron………

  14. Yvonne

    Well, this one didn’t work for me, if I turned off the ringer or turned off my emails to avoid distractions so that I could actually get my job done, the person calling (from within the office) would make a big stink about it and cause me grief. With that person it was always a no win situation. Office bully who always got their way.


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