Avoid Distraction, Get More Done With A Tangents Log

Distractions are looming around every corner of the internet. Rather than succumb to the tempting quick Google search or blog refresh, writer Dan Koeppel suggests sticking the diversion in a Tangents Log and getting on with work.

I'm a writer who has constantly struggled with procrastination and distraction. I tend to go off on tangents, and lose many hours on those journeys. My routine is to keep a hand-written "Tangents Log." Whenever I feel the urge to diverge from my current work, I write the tangent down instead of following it immediately. At the end of the day, or the week, I review the list. Some of the items are really silly, and I'm glad I never spent the time. But the big bonus is that a lot of those tangents turn out to be very useful—they're ideas I can work into my current project, or even better, future ideas that I can use (and sell!) later. The result? My tangents have been triaged—the useless ones are gone, the productive ones are identified, and my daily productivity is saved.

It's a simple idea, but it's also a perfect solution to handling the ubiquitous distractions in the modern workplace. Like the idea? Maybe you'd also like Dan's completely unrelated book: Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World. Thanks Dan!


    This is a genius idea! A tangent blog would be great, as a lot of the things I'm distracted by involve links, tweets, design tangents or photos that needed to be taken..

    Here's a little program I've been using to keep track of my distractions. It's called Tree List and it's a very minimalist program. http://theunusualsuspect.com/software/tree-list

    I use a bookmarks folder in Firefox for this very thing (although you can't jot down mental ideas in bookmarks like you can above), if I find a link I find interesting but not entirely relevant to the current topic I'll add it to my 'Distracted' folder. Then later when I'm killing some time, or trying to enliven some brain cells I'll plough through the list.

    Thanks Todd... :)

    There's already too much paper on my desk for a paper-and-pencil approach, to which I find http://todoist.com/ perfect for quickly jotting down that 'great idea' that I don't have the time (or inclination?) to work on immediately.

    http://www.rememberthemilk.com is also a similar online TODO service.

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