How I focus more and worry less about the internet

As a long time Rands fan, I highly recommend you partake of the Rands Information Practices and Rands Slack Protocol. Allow me to add some of my favorite tactics.

Get your browser tab situation under control; I get itchy when I have more than several tabs open! (But if you’re the sort who never has less than a few dozen tabs open, I still like you.) Move your most important and favorite blogs and websites into a feedreader. I like Newsblur plus Reeder macOS/Reeder iOS. You can even put Twitters and email subscriptions into Newsblur, which is some next level distraction management.

Learn the keyboard shortcuts. All of them. Dazzle people with your ability to dance across the keyboard and make computers do things. Bonus tip: picking up a mechanical keyboard will make you sound extra amazing but slightly annoy the people who sit close to you.

Customize your system to remove distractions, allow you to focus, reduce drag, and move faster. If other people sit down at your computer and can’t operate it, that’s okay. But, don’t customize it too much. I want to get stuff done, not produce the ultimate hot rod computer for hot rodding computers.

Speaking of hot rodding, do not go too deep on productivity systems. I need a notebook-like app to think in and write stuff down. I need some kind of souped up todo list. Not much else. They are outboard brains, augmenting my ability to function as an adult and as someone thinking about and/or making things. Its tempting to read about everyone else’s Extremely Awesome Productivity Setup, but they’re doing different stuff and have different responsibilities; it’s entertainment, not education.

I cannot read the entire internet. Get really good at guessing whether something that comes across your desk is going to better your understanding of the world. Skip all the clickbait and tribal rage stuff. I look for stuff that provides insight into how we got here or what the future might look like.

That said, don’t accidentally filter your dear friends out in the process of managing the information onslaught. Put them in a special list or feed folder and look at it daily. Engage with them like its 2008 and the internet is still a promising thing that connects us to our friends.

Finally, I highly recommend you follow Rands’ best bit of advice, which is curiously tucked into the last footnote: replace screens by your bed (as many as possible, at least) with a book.