Experiment: The Zero-Distraction Diet


Have you ever finished the day and wondered where the hours have gone?

Today I embark upon an experiment in zero distraction dieting online.

In a nutshell, the goal is to block out any distractions so that I can get work done and be highly productive. As someone with ADD tendencies, this is especially important.

I will be testing this for one week, and will report the results on here.

The problem

The problem for most people is that there are simply too many distractions online. email is perhaps the worst offender, and tools like Twitter, Facebook and instant messenger all add to the problem.

Checking social media sites, checking your stats too often, watching videos on Youtube, reading forums, blogs, etc… all of these are distractions.

Research has shown that if you get distracted from a task for just 5 minutes, it can take another 15 minutes to get back into the zone.

Put simply, get distracted just three times per hour for 5 mins per time, and you will get almost nothing done.

The Experiment

I have tried to-do lists, goal setting, working in small chunks etc… none of it worked for more than a day or two at a time.

So, today I am going to experiment with some brute force.

My main tool is going to be a Mac app called “Self Control“.

Note: PC users can use LeechBlock to achieve pretty much the same result.

As you can see from their logo, they are pretty darn serious about kicking ass and eliminating distractions.

To help me track my efficiency and gather stats etc, I am using a tool that Tim Ferriss recommended: Rescue Time (both PC and Mac)

Self Control

I am sure there is a similar app for PC users, so please post it in the comments below.

Self control basically asks you for a blacklist of websites that cause distractions, or you go to when you are bored.

I basically tried to add every URL I could think of that wasn’t directly related to my tasks at hand.

Digg.com, Popurls.com, Twitter.com, Google mail.

TIP: Make sure you block your emails, they are the biggest distraction online, and  give the impression of working, but it isn’t.

The e-mail Virus

For any zero distraction diet, email is the chocolate cake, or the cheese burger. It is vital that you don’t read or answer emails during productivity periods.

Luckily for me, I use gmail, so I could simply set the self control app to block the gmail URL.

Before You Begin

Once you set the timer on self control and hit “activate”, there is no way around it. Even resetting your computer will not work.

So it is therefore important to plan your goals for that session before hand. You wouldn’t want to block Digg.com for example, if your goal was to write a blog post on social bookmarking sites.

So grab a pen and paper, and write your goals for a 2 hour period.

Once you are done, check the URLs you are blacklisting, and then activate the program.

You are now ready to work with no distractions.

Outside Distractions

I would also recommend that you turn off all phones, including mobile phones.

Remember, if someone has something important to tell you, they will call back, if it wasn’t important, then it wasn’t worth hearing in the first place.

Also ensure all instant messenger programs, and Skype are off.

2 Hours?

Working in 2-hour chunks may seem a lot, but bear in mind you should take a 10 minute break after the first hour. Eban Pagan recommends doing some push-ups, some deep breathing, and grab a glass of water (not coffee).

Do not think about work during this ten minute break.

My goal is to do two sessions of solid, uninterrupted 2-hour blocks of work per day.

That might not seem a lot, but I bet the output from 4-hours of  solid work will beat 99% of people who do 8 hours with distractions.

In fact, I was told once that the average CEO does around 30 minutes of ACTUAL, productive work per day.

The Theory

My theory on why tools like ‘self control’ work so well is called the “movie on a plane theory”.

Have you ever been on a plane and really enjoyed a movie?

Here is the thing, movies on planes seem better than they actually are, simply because you have nothing else to do.

The alternatives are so dire that anything seems enjoyable.

Heck, I even watched Sex and the City on the way to Vegas last year (arrghhh).

Self Control works the same way, by blocking all of your distractions, you have nothing left to do but work.

Suddenly, those tasks you have been putting off for weeks are now easy to focus on, and simple to execute.

You can work without distractions, the hour will fly by, and maximum output will be achieved…

Or at least, that is the goal for this experiment.

Will I succeed?

I hope so, but either way, I will post the updates on here.

Please join me in this experiment for one week, together we can live the zero distraction diet, and trim the procrastination fat from our businesses.

See you on the weighing scales.


  • http://M4R J-Create


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  • http://deanhunt.com Dean Hunt

    Try https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4476

    It is called Leechblock, and does pretty much the same thing.

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  • J-Create

    OMG…. Thanks Dean! God Bless Man.

    To Even Futher Your Succcess,

    Jeffrey McCain. ;0)

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  • Dare

    Hey man me posting again lol…

    Eben Pagan based his ideas on Tony Schwarz book “The power of full engagement.” You might want to read the article he recommends in which a research is done and it is concluded that human self control is very limited (but can be expanded.) So he recommend something similar that you do.

    Just instead of 2 hours, 1.5 hours (with 30 mins breaks) or 1 hour (with 20 mins break) in which while you work you are 100% engaged, no multitasking, no phone calls, no email, even lock the door for no outsiders if needed (programs like the firefox extension you mentioned can help except for the last thing.)

    By the way, the ideal time for this one is 30 days (the time it usually takes to form a habit.) So it would be a good idea to form like a 30 day challenge in which you and eventually us would post our progress. It really takes lots of commitment to achieve this but once it is done it can be profound.


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  • http://deanhunt.com Dean Hunt

    Dare – welcome back ;-)

    I met Eban last year, great guy.

    Yes, I am familiar with his teachings, I believe he said 45 mins and 15 break when I saw him, but I may be wrong.

    My main problem has been getting started… so I was keen to do it longer than normal for that reason.

    Your point about 30 days is very valid as well.. I believe the scientific average was 21 days.

    I will post as a 7-day experiment, and hopefully I can continue for 30 days and longer.

    Thanks for your comment.


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  • http://greatestreviews.net/ Agent 001

    Distraction are hurdles in the path of success. Being a student I have lots of distractions.

    Self control is important. It is also important to organize or plan out things.

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  • Dare

    Depends the idea is spend working time and then 1/3 of that working time off (45-15, 60-20, 90-30.)

    I personally found this to work best (for getting started) when you make that goal a must something like Tim Ferris once did. He set up a thirty day challenge of no complaining. If he complained during those 30 days he went back to day 1.

    I got rid of the habit of watching TV this way…although through those 30 days I had cravings to watch some TV I remembered that if I do that I must go to day 1…so it’s a pain against a bigger pain. So I barely spend 2 hours weekly watching TV nowdays as the results of eliminating that habit.

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  • http://imwithjoe.com Normal Joe

    Awesome dude, this is something I am constantly looking to improve. I tried the 33:33 time blocks as stated by Gene Schwartz in Breakthrough Advertising..pretty much the same idea, only shorter time frame.

    The tools look dope, a buddy of mines showed me another mac tool, tired of macs and all their tools…need to get one! lol.

    I’ll be watching and trying something similar myself, thanks bro.

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