134 – How Reducing Distractions Will Make You More Productive in 2019

by | Jan 31, 2019 | Podcast

Life is moving at a dizzying pace. Technology is evolving quickly. Distractions are increasingly at a rapid rate. So, how do you stay productive (and more importantly effective) when there’s so much going on? In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share some ideas on how to reduce distractions and how this will make you more productive in 2019.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:34 – 80% of people who make resolutions drop them by the second week of February
  • 01:12 – Kaizen
  • 03:25 – The fewer the options, the better
  • 09:16 – 5 concrete tactics for reducing distractions
  • 11:41 – Final thoughts


Most of us begin the New Year with the best of intentions.

We set goals and resolutions, vow to make positive changes in our lives and head off to the races.

How does that turn out for most people?

According to an article on Inc.com, titled A Brutal Truth About Keeping New Year’s Resolutions That Few People Are Willing to Admit, roughly 80% of people who make resolutions drop them by the second week of February.

I don’t find that surprising myself, but it is sad to see so many people lose momentum and give up on themselves.

And, 2019 will be no exception. 80% of people will have dropped their resolution by the second week of February.

One of the problems is that we try to do too much too fast.

I’ve noticed that people like to talk about the Japanese concept of kaizen with regards to this topic of resolutions, which is a term used to describe “progressive improvement”. Unlike what some experts say, it does not mean slow, continuous improvement.

But there’s no Breakthrough in the idea of “continuous improvement”, is there?

And yet, kaizen seems to have made a huge difference for some well-known companies.

See, here in North America we’ve taken the first character in the word kaizen to mean “change”. Then we’ve taken the second character to mean “wisdom”.

Change plus wisdom equals improvement? We’re still missing something here.

See, the character “kai” doesn’t just mean “change” It means to stop the old and change it to the new.

The character “zen” doesn’t just mean “wisdom”. It means to do good, to do what’s right. It also refers to justice, something that has value, and the root of our motivation behind benevolent acts.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Kaizen, as a whole means to correct, or to improve the terms of a contract or your staff.

Sorry YouTube videos, you’ve done a horrible job of letting people in on this secret. Next time you need someone to explain to you what a Japanese term means, you should ask someone like me, that actually speaks Japanese.

See, what makes kaizen effective, what produces Breakthrough, is stopping what’s not working and doing more of what is working. And, it’s to have a sense of justice and value about taking things in a new direction.

At first glance, this may not appear profound. But let’s say you’re on a mission to lose 20 lbs. What would happen if you applied kaizen to this process? What if you stopped eating junk food and other unhealthy foods and just ate healthy, organic foods instead? You’d achieve your goal relatively quickly, right?

So, with that, I’d like to revisit another podcast episode from last year, entitled The Fewer The Options, The Better.

In this episode, I described how only having a laptop to do my work boosted my productivity and helped me accomplish more in less time.

Let’s go back and have a listen, and I’ll be back to close this episode at the end.

You can find 077 – The Fewer The Options, The Better here

And I’m back to wrap up today’s episode.

As I’m sure you’re beginning to see, reducing distraction will make you more productive this year and in the years ahead.

Although I hinted at several tactics for improving your productivity in the original recording of episode 77, I’d like to make these a little more concrete. So, here are a few things you can do to reduce distraction.


It’s a good idea to disconnect from your phone and the internet every once in a while. This is a healthy thing to do. Plus, it leaves space for ideas to coalesce in your mind and inspiration to hit. Sometimes, not being connected can help you get more done because it means fewer distractions.

Change Your Environment

Try doing your work in a coffee shop, in a library, at a bar or a pub and so on. Notice what impact the environment has on your psyche. Notice how your surroundings can influence what you’re thinking about. Determine whether you get more or less done in that environment.

I like to do my work in a coffeehouse at least once per month if not weekly. I’ve found that changing your surroundings can lead to new ideas and even help you achieve more clarity overall.

Turn Off Notifications

I’m not a fan of notifications and I’ve turned most of them off on my phone. I try to turn off notifications on my laptop and desktop computers too, because they annoy me.

The only notifications I still leave on are phone calls, texts or instant messages. But you can even turn these off and check your phone at your own convenience if you prefer. After all, your time is valuable, and you can’t be at everyone’s beck and call 24/7.

Reduce Your Email Clutter

Unsubscribe from email newsletters. I know some people put a lot of importance on seeing what other people in their niche are up to and while this can be of some value, recognize that you are the one being sold to when you’re opening other people’s emails. So, you should be sending more emails than you’re reading.

Also, I’ve subscribed to some email lists thinking I would be spying on the competition, only to forget what I was doing and end up unsubscribing anyway.

Be Intentional

If you have multiple computers, maybe one could be for general administrative and marketing work while your other computer is your dedicated studio computer.

If you have a spare room in your house, maybe that room could be your practice room.

Determine what purpose everything serves in your environment. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, maybe it’s time to get rid of it. Don’t let everything happen on autopilot.

Final Thoughts

With that, I’d like to close this episode.

I hope you’ve found this valuable. Here’s wishing you a productive 2019.

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