5 ‘Do Not Disturb’ Tips for Avoiding Tech Distractions

You’re sitting in your cubicle, minding your own business, when a little “bing!” rings—Gchat is requesting your attention. Without hesitation, you minimize the document you were working on to see what’s up. It’s a link from your co-worker to a Buzzfeed article about the 21 cutest cats everrrrrrrr. So, obviously, you click it… and that’s it, game over. You can kiss any chance of further productivity goodbye.

Gchat is just one poison. Not yours? Pick another: email alerts, text messages, Facebook notifications, calls from Grandma…

You know you’re not doing your best work when you succumb to all these digital distractions and more. But it seems like it’s literally impossible to avoid them. So we asked the Young Entrepreneur Council, “What rules do you have for yourself to keep you from allowing technology to get in the way of your productivity?” for some ideas:

1. Organize your email.

I don’t respond to emails throughout the day. At the end of each day, I go through my inbox, file the email and create a to-do list to respond. The next day, I review my list and prioritize. When I am not bouncing in and out of emails, this gives me total control of my day and increases my productivity significantly.

—Lindsay Mullen, Prosper Strategies

2. Set a timer.

I do three- to four-hour spurts of intensive work and then reward myself with a 30-minute to an hour-long break. Like many people, I have the nasty habit of getting distracted by technology during my break (thus losing productive work time). I found myself going over that allotted hour many times by playing phone games or watching Netflix. My solution/rule: I now set a timer, which gets me back to work.

—Peter Daisyme, Hosting

3. Don’t bring your phone to meetings.

Smartphones are good for on-the-spot research, but the disadvantages of having a distraction during a meeting outweigh the positives. Try to avoid the temptation by leaving the phone on your desk. You will be surprised at the uptick in productivity.

—Elliot Bohm, Cardcash.com

4. Put your phone on “do not disturb.”

I set my iPhone to airplane mode and put it in another room so it can’t disturb me while I’m sleeping. I also won’t check it first thing in the morning or during a restless night. At work, I also set my iPhone to “do not disturb” so I can focus without interruption in the morning, which is when I’m most focused.

—Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

5. Work offline.

I love to “work offline” in Outlook for one to three hours at a time to dig into email. It’s invigorating to clean up your inbox, get a bunch of emails queued and catch up on some other tasks that often require a good bit of focus like content creation, proposals, finances, etc. Otherwise, it’s a new distraction every minute or so.

—Josh Sprague, Orange Mud

Are digital distractions dragging you down? See what 5 productivity experts have to say about working the tech-heavy 21st century.


Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.


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