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Put Yourself in a Corner


Comments are ordered by helpfulness, as indicated by you. Help us pick out the gems and discourage asshattery by voting on notable comments.

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Tom Hermans

I think of this as a helpful article, helpful in giving tips, helpful in a motivational way, helpful in bringing me the insight that I’m not alone in searching strategies of balancing work, updating my skills, and minimizing procrastination…

That insight alone was nice to read.

John Weis

Thanks for this article. Really enjoyed it. Also, I’ve been a fan of the Crush+Lovely stuff for a while. Really inspiring creative you guys do there!

Colin Williams

Ha, I won’t throw anything at you, but I used to think I produced my best work when I procrastinated. But then I realized that I did ALL of my work after procrastinating. I don’t think there’s anything about doing it at the last minute that makes it better.

Kyle Fox

Insightful article. I can relate to many of those points, particularly the one about being motivated by last minute panic.

I wish it wasn’t so, but I definitely do my best work when the pressure is on. I might try setting up my own Seat of Shame to see if that allows me to increase focus without requiring a proportional increase in stress.


I have read some articles about productivity and this one is by far the funniest and most original.
Nice tips too, the “Wall of Sound” may not be the right one for me, however will try some of the others.Thanks.


This article is brilliant. I’ve been thinking about similar stuff for a while now as I have way too many distractions in my working environment – some I can’t do anything about, but the ones I can I really should. Guess I know what my 2011 resolution is then :)

Rajveer Singh Rathore

Hello Meagan!

Things that you pointed out for distraction are the challenge for me to, might be for most of us. Your thought inspiring detail to cop up with them are commendable.

I also apply the idea of putting on a fan, only to get a sound sleep. To concentrate in work I tend to play some music – any music without lyrics.

For visual inputs I try to follow exactly what you do. I think that really helps.

To me Mobile Phone was a big distraction. Now I generally keep it on silent and make sure it’s away from my work desk. In fact before starting to work I finish talking to people about things that are important for that day.

I think Social Networking apps and website are also enemies to work. I do not keep any browser or OS plugins. Do not keep these website open in any browser tabs while working. However I make sure to give time for this before and after work, everyday.

I am very poor at work planning when it comes to get together with friends and family. This is an area where I think my work compromise, most of the times. I love to hang around with friends and colleagues. That’s where I am trying to improve – “learning to say no to parties and drinks as much as possible” unless there is just no work commitment.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts :-)


What a lovely article, Megan :)
Really enjoyed reading about your experiences in the classroom ~ reminded me of myself and my distractions. I’m already on board with the ‘wall of sound’ – does help me to focus and is inspirational too.

Thanks for a lovely piece of writing :)


Hi Megan,

Thank you for writing such an enjoyable read.

I am a teacher who does web design as a hobby. Being a teacher for the sake of having a job and a designer for the sake of having a degree in advertising.

Like you, both my thoughts and my concentrations are easily distracted. I don’t really have any method in dealing with them, but I guess that is how I am. When I need to finish a website or a design, I first make sure that I plan them well on paper before executing them. I sketch, scribble, and jot down details that I can refer back when I lost track of what I am suppose to do. Musics helps me a lot when concentrating (Wall of sounds, I suppose). I barricaded myself in a small room and close the door and windows, but I could still hear my wife screaming at me when it is time for lunch or dinner :-)

Again, thank you for writing this. I’m glad to know that somewhere in another corner of the globe there are people like me, with story that I could relate to.

Andrew Crookston

Great article.

Another trick to not sit and count the minutes is using (Mac) menubar-app FuzzyClock.
It doesn’t tell you time in xx:xx but instead in written language like “quarter to four” at 3:47 or “ten to four” when its 3:48. Click the menubar for exact minutes.

It’s so good I replaced the original clock with it.

Alan Moore

Good article. One thing I did was edit my email preferences so it only checks for mail once an hour. Unless I am waiting for an email from a client, in which case I will check more often, this means that distracting little red number in the dock doean’t tempt me away from doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Drew McLellan


To be honest, it was a boring read. No disrespect to the author in anyway.

No problem that you didn’t enjoy the article – the subject is obviously something that doesn’t strike a chord with you.

But you can’t be rude about someone’s work and then just say “no disrespect” and think that makes it better. It doesn’t, you’ve still been disrespectful.

Anyway, hopefully you’ll find some of the other articles here more to your liking.

Alex Lande

Good tips. I swear by the Wall of Sound personally, anything without vocals (or even better, with indecipherable ones) works great. I’m also a fan of hiding my phone in my desk drawer.

Tady Walsh

I have long thought that the articles on 24ways are nuggets in their own right, even when taken out of context of the blog they inhabit. This article is on a whole new level.

To say it’s a revelation would be an understatement. I suffer from what I like to call PDD (peripheral distraction disorder!) which other people would call procrastination. Years ago, I’d sit at a PC with my hoodie up, baseball cap down and a nice bit of dance music pumping the adrenaline. In those instances, I could work an 8 hour day and have it feel like 10 minutes. I don’t do that anymore, but maybe I should…

This is possibly one of the more important articles I’ve read in the last few years. Thank you Megan for giving me a context and something to think about. Look, there’s woods behind them trees!!!

Anybody wants me, you know where I’ll be…

Luke Jones

I find listening to really calming or quite music can be the opposite of a distraction. The sort of albums which may loop and you won’t even notice. Try listening to Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago; Azure Ray; WHITE RAINBOW or (I’d really recommend this one) Jonsi & Alex – Riceboy Sleeps. Been trying to get work done this evening so I’ve been blasting Elliott Smith through my headphones.


One trick I’ve picked up is setting the OS X system clock to analog. I find that makes it just tiny enough on my laptop that I have to make a concerted effort to tell the time from it rather than ‘accidentally’ reading it as i glance at that area of the screen.

That could just be my poor eyesight though.

Anyway, good article. I thoroughly agree with the Wall of Sound technique – the best for busy offices :)


I still totally ignore the teachers in nearly all of my classes, thanks to my iPhone and Moleskine. But somehow I do well, and I don’t feel bad about it.

But yeah, when I have to get some work done, I just have to force myself to do a little bit, and the rest goes smoothly. Starting is the only hard part for me, the rest is all easy.


Got here via the carsonified weekly round up – dug the post too – amazing how certain teachers can have such a lasting impact – you gotta think the Scandinavians have their priorities right ;-)

I’m fascinated by the idea of establishing the optimum auditory environment for working – I have found that music that contains no distracting ‘words” works really well – Dance music, classical, and especially Jonsi and Sigur Ros (with their incomprehensible to me Icelandic!) make great music to work to without tying up the language centers.

Have been thinking of trying the white noise generator but it just seems a little “cold” and machine like.

Daniel E Kling Jr

Really enjoyed this article. I’m definitely a “wall of sound” designer.

I find that I work better with background noise. I cannot sit in silence and feel productive,I need some type of audio to keep my focus on the task at hand. Podcasts normally fill that void. I think my favorite podcast to listen to is Boagworld because of the banter and off subject commentary. It allowed me to loosely listen to it while working and I could still soak in some of the content they talked about. I normally found myself listening to the podcast again anyway so it didn’t hurt.


Hi Megan,

Thanks for sharing. I have same story as yours and I have been through same episodes as you, I actually doodled on a biology paper. I was brilliant in all subjects did good in that paper too but the doodle got my teacher attention and same humiliation I went through as you in front of the whole class.

And then he use to throw open challenges at me and set special papers for me. Before exams he even use to place a bet of taking me to lunch if I score highest. I still have that paper with me I managed to crack the toughest paper he set. So what you shared is absolutely true. And I practice the same things as you do.

Thanks for making me remember my past. My Bio Teacher still in touch with me I help him out with his class presentations and stuff & computer troubles as he is a biology guy ;)

Merry Christmas


Thank you for this post!

I think you’ve just helped me with my future studies. Like you, I think of myself as a quite talented student in a few subjects, but because of me being gifted I ignore the further studies, because I survive with a grade 4 (in Hungary, 5 is the best, 1 is the least good) without it.
I am sure that my New Year’s resolutions are going to involve a promise to myself about sitting apart from my best friend and paying attention during lessons Literature, English, and studying for French lessons, because if I write a 5-grade vocab. test, that doesn’t mean I will be able to use them as my active French vocabulary. You might have just pointed out the right path for a student.

Merry Christmas from Hungary,
Samu, 16


I find myself in almost the same position as you. The more you push myself the better results I get for my essays and stuff like that. I haven’t tried this out in web design as I’m just a hobbyist but I will… some day. I’m procrastinating at the moment :D


I fail to see what was so enjoyable about that dreadfully long article. To be honest, it was a boring read. No disrespect to the author in anyway. But I hate articles that don’ t go to the point directly.

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