If you are old enough, you recall the days when researching a topic meant walking over to a shelf, pulling out an encyclopedia volume, shuffling through the pages until you found the topic, and hoping that the article was written at some point in the past ten years. (Or you may have visited the library to search through microfilm of hundreds of newspapers until you found the exact article you were looking for. Fun times.) Now, you can find the answer to nearly any question with just a few clicks. If you are curious about something or get the urge to follow a hunch, you can do it in an instant, which will likely lead to another click, and another, and soon you are down the rabbit hole of distraction. These distractions driven by curiosity are easy and cheap to follow but actually very costly to your process because they fracture your focus.
To curb the instinct to bounce from click to click, it can be help- ful to keep a small notepad handy to write down interesting thoughts that cross your mind while doing your work. Experiencing a desire to follow a clickbait article? Write it down and follow it later, when you aren’t in the middle of something. Want to read an article about your favorite band? Great! Write it down so that you can do it later, when you have time.
Keep a log of potential diversions, then schedule some “diversion time” to pursue them all.
Be mindful of small diversions that sidetrack your work.
What small diversions tempt you the most when in the midst of your work?