Mindful Productivity: A SXSW Interactive Panel Discussion


Resources: Mindful Productivity in a World of Interruption


Thanks for checking out the resource page for the SXSW 2014 Panel “Mindful Productivity in a World of Interruption.”

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(Note: This is a living document, which means it will be updated frequently. Check back throughout SXSW and afterward for more resources.)

The Three Ds: Distractions, Disruptions, and Diversions


A distraction is something that is well within your control. You can mitigate distractions before they happen if you do some up front work and eliminate them beforehand so that they don’t have a chance of getting in the way.

Some apps that we use to mitigate distractions include:


A disruption is something that you don’t have direct control over. Examples are things like a fire alarm, your child falling down a set of stairs, or your boss coming and interrupting you while you are working on something.

Craig suggests that while you may not be able to eliminate disruptions, you can certainly prepare for them. His to do list acts as his compass for situations where he gets distracted. He can simply return to it and figure out not just what to do next but, more importantly, why he’s to do that thing next. Craig has written more about staying on task here.

Conversely, Marc has a To Don’t List that he uses to keep him from straying down a path he doesn’t want to go down. Here’s a list of 20 things that belong on your To Don’t List.

It’s important to recognize the difference between distractions and disruptions, and then to identify them as they happen initially so you can better deal with them in the future. Whether that’s by minimizing or eliminating notifications after getting too many during the day (a distraction) or using a to do list to get you back on track after being taken off course by an emergency or a superior (a disruption), you need to know what distractions and disruptions you may face in your life. If you don’t identify with


A diversion is something that occurs when you end up getting distracted for too long and can’t escape it easily or when you don’t recover from disruption and start doing something that you didn’t really want to be doing.

RescueTime helps Angel measure and quantify how much time she spends on certain online activities – both the good and the not-so-good.

Mike will often break things down on paper – or disconnect – in order to steer clear from straying too far off the mark and down a diversionary path. One tool he uses is Th Eisenhower Matrix. That process is described at the site Eisenhower.me, where you can also deicde whether or not you want to go paperless with the process (or even mobile if you want).


A trigger is defined as “anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.”

  • Angel’s trigger is self-awareness.
  • Marc’s trigger is a feeling of anxiety.
  • Craig’s trigger is his list.
  • Mike’s triggers are words and what meaning they have. Mike’s written about triggers here.

Three questions to ask yourself once your trigger has been activated:

  1. What am I doing?
  2. Why am I doing this now?
  3. What am I going to do next?

What are your triggers? Tweet them with the hashtag #mindfulpro and share them with us!

Ultimately, to be a mindful pro – and marry mindfulness and productivity together (as they should be if you want to thrive in a world of interruption) – asking yourself the right question is the answer.

So stop asking “What now?” and start asking “Why now?”

*Want more? * Check out some of our books:

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