Reclaim Your Focus


Two books that have had a huge influence on how I approach my work are Rework and Remote from Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), a successful software company based in Chicago. These books are worth the read if you’re someone who’s working remotely, thinking about working remotely, starting a business, or considering going to work for yourself. I like these guys’ pragmatic approach to doing business and getting sh*t done effectively and efficiently. Along those lines, this interview with Fried recently popped up in my Twitter feed and I liked one of his simple tips for staying focused while working.

“I go full screen on nearly every app,” Fried explains. “I also hide my dock. I don’t want anything pulling my attention away. When I’m curious I’ll look. Otherwise, I’m looking at what I want, not what someone else might want me to see. I can’t stress this enough—protect your attention like you protect your friends, family, money, etc. It’s among the most valuable things you have.”

Fried’s interview pairs well with this piece on what multitasking does to your brain. Studies have shown that people who “spend lots of time toggling between screens — actually do worse on tests of what researchers call ‘working memory,’ or the ability to hold multiple objects of attention in mind, like the digits involved in doing math in your head.”

In other words: reclaim your focus. You’ll work better, remember more and be more aware of what’s happening around you.

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. Sign up here to get it sent to your inbox first thing every Tuesday morning.

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