Tools for Keeping Focus

Some things I do to help keep focus on my Macbook and iPhone, inspired by this LessWrong post by Ben Kuhn


  • grayscale mode to mute shiny colors that attracts your brain
  • focus mode to mute notifications and also customize home screen with only the essential
    • this prevents messages from friends that can steal away your flow
    • and also puts you into the zone with the modes, it's like the psychology of a specific workspace that tells your brain, "it's time to work", apply that to your digital workspace (also applies to music you play)
  • batch notifications with scheduled summary: i do it twice a day (10am and 6pm)
  • the time-sucking, attention-hungry, dopamine generating apps
    • introduce friction: install apps like one sec or create a custom shortcut (mine turns on airplane mode and grayscale mode) basically to disincentivize me
    • no red bubbles: disable notification badges for apps
    • don't have them: uninstall all social media apps (use it on the browser to keep up with friends)
  • if possible, keep your phone out of your periphery, place it under your bed, hide it, even better, outside of your room, throw it out the window


  • UnDistracted extension: hide feeds for social sites, block websites, auto redirects
    • same idea of introducing friction
  • keep it clean: use Arc browser spaces to create workspaces focused on a single task/idea/project, helps prevent context switching
  • on a related note, don't leave open tabs in your browser, they add cognitive load and make it hard to focus, try to clear them up by the end of the day, store them in notion, add them to curius


  • time block with calendar (i use Amie)
  • focus on 3 things a day and do it one at a time
    • i constantly find myself context switch and lose focus on a single task, I'm still working on this...
  • music: play non-distracting music that also isn't sleepy like ghibli lofi or jazzy lofi or upbeat classical
    • i like to play some upbeat ones to get me into the grindset and then switch into focus mode with those mnusic
  • take breaks, focusing for too long strains the brain, rest helps you consolidate information and stepping away from problems help activates different pathways of the brain

Other thoughts:

I think a general idea for helping keeping focus is to remove distractions as much as possible, note down the things that distract you from your task and figure out ways to eliminate them, and if it's not possible/ convenient, figure out how to add friction, make it hard to access those distractions.

If the distraction is coming from within, it's a harder problem. I find intrinsic motivation the most powerful generator for focus. If it's something that provides meaning and purpose, it induces flow, and flow is focus. If you're not intrinsically motivated, utilize extrinsic motivation, make finishing the task satisfying and reward yourself with what you find rewarding.

Set accountability strategies, I stream myself working because there's a sense of someone watching me and provides the pressure. Tell your friends/the public about your plans, that way failing has a "cost", your risk appearing untrustworthy and breaking a social contract. Make failing painful. Make it hurt.