Quick Productivity Trick: Capture Distractions

This is probably obvious and/or part of systems like GTD, but I came up with this for myself recently, and it has worked remarkably well.

When working and trying to focus on one task at hand, which may not be my favorite task of all times, I find myself having to deal with distracting ideas popping into my head. Some of them are good ideas, and some of them are completely useless, but this can really only be determined after spending some time thinking about them, which is exactly what I am trying to avoid. I used to frequently cave in on this type of internal distraction, and my productivity would take a hit. The worst part is that once you start considering one such idea, it tends to lead to another and another.

What I have started doing now is just capture these ideas on paper, and then get back to them in my next break. Often times I will realize that the idea was stupid, and doesn’t deserve being pursued any further. But having it there puts my mind at ease, and makes it a lot easier to get on with the current task. The simple act of moving the distracting thought onto paper seems to make it easier to remove it from my mind. I use a simple notepad for this, which I keep next to my keyboard.


Is Google deliberately screwing up social?

This argument may seem excessively contrived, but thinking about why Google doesn’t seem to be able to get social right, this thought came across my mind:

If we think of the 3 major players seemingly competing for dominance of the future of computing as Apple, Google and Facebook, they are in a Mexican standoff, where each player is pitted against 2 opponents. How Facebook and Apple are competing is not entirely clear to me, but let’s assume for the sake of the argument they are.

This kind of situation is known as a Truel(tri+duel, smart, huh?) in game theory, and in a highly idealized version, an interesting strategy is optimal. Quoting Wikipedia:

If a single bullet is used, the probabilities of hitting the target are equal and deliberate missing is allowed, the best strategy for the first shooter is to deliberately miss. Since he is now disarmed, the next shooter will have no reason to shoot the first one and so will shoot at the third shooter. While the second shooter might miss deliberately, there would then be the risk that the third one would shoot him. If the first shooter does not deliberately miss, he will presumably be shot by whichever shooter remained.

So for this argument, one might think Google is deliberately screwing up social, which is traditionally Facebook’s turf, thus enticing Facebook to compete with Apple, since Google is apparently not such a big threat.

As I mentioned earlier, this is highly constructed(it ignores Microsoft, for example) and probably far from reality, but I thought it was an entertaining idea, and perhaps contains a grain of truth.