My home-boy A-Tang was recently in a car driving back from a party. He asked his friends if he should yell “Boners 5-0″ out the window at a policeman who had pulled someone over. The consensus was that he obviously should.
A-Tang: Boners 5-0!
** Lights + Siren **
Policecop: I heard someone yell something out the window, do you require any assistance?
Partygoer: Uhh… no officer, we’re all fine here.
Policecop: Well I see you’re missing your seatbelt, that’s a ticket. Do you have your license and registration?
Drivey-Tang: Sorry, I don’t have my license with me…
Policecop: That’s another ticket. [To A-Tang] Are you happy? You just got your friend two tickets.
This story illustrates a point. Regardless if something is a good idea or not, if it is convenient to do and it might be a good idea then it is much more likely to be done than something that is difficult and definitely a good idea. For context check out The Easiest Way to Change People’s Behavior.
This applies a lot to personal habits. Anything within arms distance should be good for you. Tired of always eating a ton of chips and soda? Move them into the garage. Getting distracted by things nearby? Move to a different room or location where distractions are further away.
Here’s the kicker though: being a knowledge worker who needs to use the internet for most tasks distractions are always within arms reach. There might be some programs out there that move the most distracting and least productive parts of the internet away and if so they are probably of some value. Self-restraint will also help, but for maximal productivity it takes more than just that. Other solutions: Put on a business hat when doing business and a party hat when just surfing the net, designate certain computers/locations for work or play and keep them separate; your brain will figure it out if you are consistent. Adding a physical component to the context switch will put it out of arms reach.