December 22, 2022 in Effectiveness

I’m fortunate to have been able to visit Vashon Island last weekend near Seattle for my annual company retreat. Disconnecting from the usual routines and processes is the best way to clear any disruptions and plan your best new year.

How Many Distractions?

In an eight-hour day, the average person is distracted approximately 60 times. At five minutes per, that’s a lot of wasted time. In 2018 research in the UK, it found we check out smartphones on average every 12 minutes during waking hours, 71% never turn them off, and 40% check smartphones five minutes after waking up. 

Deep Work

In his 2016 book “Deep Work,” Cal Newport gives examples of how noted creatives, past and present, disconnect from routines and processes to do their best work. One example is Psychiatrist Carl Jung, who built his “tower,” a two-story stone home on the banks of Lake Zurich in the village of Bollingen. Here he would work for hours on end, undistracted. Newport cites many examples of past and present notable people who routinely disconnect from their regular routines to do their best work.

Sources of Distraction

According to TeamStage, this is how we are distracted at work. Most apply to our personal lives as well.

  • Your co-workers
  • Pointless meetings
  • Being hungry
  • Multitasking
  • Stress and anxiety
  • A cluttered workspace
  • Your smartphone
  • Sending and receiving emails
  • Checking social media
  • Being interrupted

Practical Ideas to Disconnect For Anyone

As I mentioned earlier, I’m grateful I can visit a Vashon Island cabin each year to plan for the upcoming year. However, it doesn’t take a little island cabin to disconnect. Some ideas you can do wherever you are:

  • In Seattle, we are fortunate to have many in-city parks and green spaces perfect for setting aside a few hours to disconnect.
  • Visiting a nearby city or town is a great way to disconnect from the routines. The point is that you won’t be acquainted with the surroundings and people.
  • Even visiting a different area of the place you live can be a great way to eliminate distractions.

Things to Remember When Disconnecting

When disconnecting, the first and most important thing to remember is to plan what you want to accomplish. Is it writing your first book, or perhaps as I did, planning your next year? The second is to eliminate distractions. Turn off the electronic devices you won’t need, and don’t check email or social media when you’re disconnecting.


You can practice disconnecting while at your desk or in another work area. Try turning off social media and email. Turn off notifications for short periods and see how your attention shifts into effectiveness mode. You can also try my methodology for mastering your inbox called Capture, Analyze, Resolve to eliminate the distraction that email can cause. You can reach me at my contact page if you want to chat.

Kickstart your productivity with the Total Effectiveness System. This six-lesson online course will show you how to organize your life around what matters and your critical roles.

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Todd Allan

About the author 

Todd Allan

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